Longtime AC/DC singer Brian Johnson has issued a statement explaining his recent battle with hearing loss, and clarifying the circumstances of his departure from the legendary Australian group’s current world tour.

Last month, AC/DC were forced to postpone the last 10 U.S. dates on their Rock or Bust world tour after doctors told Johnson he faced “total hearing loss” if he performed with the group again. At the time, the band promised it would make up the shows, “likely with a guest vocalist.”

After weeks of speculation and rumors, this past weekend AC/DC announced that Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose would join them for the remaining dates of the tour. In that press statement, the group also wished Johnson well with his “future ventures,” strongly indicating but not flat out stating that his time with the group was over.

Johnson has now explained his version of all this upheaval with a statement. Here is his statement in full:

“As many AC/DC fans know, the remaining shows for the 2016 AC/DC Rock or Bust World Tour, including 10 postponed U.S. shows, are being rescheduled with a guest singer. I want personally to explain the reason because I don’t believe the earlier press releases sufficiently set out what I wanted to say to our fans or the way in which I thought it should be presented.

On March 7th, after a series of examinations by leading physicians in the field of hearing loss, I was advised that if I continue to perform at large venues, I risked total deafness. While I was horrified at the reality of the news that day, I had for a time become aware that my partial hearing loss was beginning to interfere with my performance on stage. I was having difficulty hearing the guitars on stage and because I was not able to hear the other musicians clearly, I feared the quality of my performance could be compromised. In all honesty this was something I could not in good conscience allow. Our fans deserve my performance to be at the highest level, and if for any reason I can’t deliver that level of performance I will not disappoint our fans or embarrass the other members of AC/DC. I am not a quitter and I like to finish what I start, nevertheless, the doctors made it clear to me and my bandmates that I had no choice but to stop performing on stage for the remaining shows and possibly beyond. That was the darkest day of my professional life.

Since that day, I have had several consultations with my doctors and it appears that, for the near future, I will be unable to perform on stage at arena and stadium size venues where the sound levels are beyond my current tolerance, without the risk of substantial hearing loss and possibly total deafness. Until that time, I tried as best as I could to continue despite the pain and hearing loss but it all became too much to bear and too much to risk.

I am personally crushed by this development more than anyone could ever imagine. The emotional experience I feel now is worse than anything I have ever in my life felt before. Being part of AC/DC, making records and performing for the millions of devoted fans this past 36 years has been my life’s work. I cannot imagine going forward without being part of that, but for now I have no choice. The one thing for certain is that I will always be with AC/DC at every show in spirit, if not in person.

Most importantly, I feel terrible having to disappoint the fans who bought tickets for the canceled shows and who have steadfastly supported me and AC/DC these many years. Words cannot express my deep gratitude and heartfelt thanks not just for the recent outpouring to me personally of kind words and good wishes, but also for the years of loyal support of AC/DC. My thanks also go to Angus and Cliff for their support.

Finally, I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that. For the moment, my entire focus is to continue medical treatment to improve my hearing. I am hoping that in time my hearing will improve and allow me to return to live concert performances. While the outcome is uncertain, my attitude is optimistic. Only time will tell.

Once again, my sincere best wishes and thanks to everyone for their support and understanding.


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17 Responses

  1. AC/DC have been my favorite band for over 30 years. My first album was Back in Black (on 8 track). He doesn’t owe an apology to me. I had front row tickets for the Philly show and even though I’m bummed and would love to see Brian perform, his health is more important.

  2. If Angus will continue without his brother, he’ll continue without his singer. Wonder if Angus would let him record another record with the band.

  3. Finally, he has said something. Why did it take so long for him to give a statement? If had to be something legal. If that’s the case, I understand. My God, the first time I saw AC/DC live when I was a teenager, I wasn’t prepared for how loud they were. I had been going to concerts a few years by then, but I didn’t expect them to be so loud that my eardrums felt like they were going to explode and shoot out of my ears! I can only imagine how painful it had to be for the band going through that night after night. Nobody wore earplugs back in the old days and this was before in-ear monitors. So hearing issues were just an occupational hazard and something they just accepted. I feel bad for Brian, but it sounds like there’s a chance he can recover enough to perform again. Hey, he can always play smaller places, theaters and clubs. Brian screams his head off but when he backs off a bit and sings closer to his speaking voice, I can see him being able to nail some good old Blues standards. That’d be cool. Whatever he does, I’ll support him.

  4. This is disgraceful, this guy right here, in the cap, was busting balls when Axl was still learning how to sing along to his goddamn Ziggy Stardust record. B.S.!! This guy right here put out the flat out best performance ever by a singer on rock and roll record, he is a self evident truth, and Axl just isn’t in his league, Appetite is like baby food compared o Back in Black…

    If somebody had floated this idea in 1988 it would have been met with so much scorn and derision, Appetite came out when the rock scene started really sucking wind….

    So, about a good, 37% luck…Back IN BLACK, on the other hand, was the salvo that brought hard rock back as the axis of rock, that’s right….axis.

  5. Or…Back In Black, Women and Children First, British Steel, Iron Maiden, Animal Magnetism, etc, etc…all came out in 1980..All Shook Up, jus6t a stellar year for new releases, hell, goddamn Scream Dream came out in 1980, notice I don’t mention the complete embarrassment of Unmasked…

    Contrast with 1987, wherein polished turds where being disbursed with what had become almost routine. Sure, it was harder to make good records at that point, all of the best ideas had been used and probably re-used at that point. So… the argument gets tricky…maybe Appetite is as good as they say…

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