Brian Johnson’s Taylor Hawkins Set Left Him ‘Jumping for Joy’

Brian Johnson said his return to a big stage for Taylor Hawkins tribute show in London made him “jump for joy.”

He had been forced to bend of AC/DC‘s world tour in 2016 after his hearing problems became so bad that he faced complete deafness if he continued to perform. Since then, he has worked with pioneering scientist Stephen Ambrose on a new approach to deafness technology, which gave him the chance to play live again. He has made a handful of appearances in recent years, but that one Wembley show on Sept 3 was by far the largest. In a recent interview with Spin, Johnson recalled about his last few shows with AC/DC. “I don’t think they could tell,” he said.

“But I talked to [sound tech] Pab asks: ‘Am I in tune? Am I in the key?’ It was awful. … I didn’t enjoy it because I like to sing and jump up and down and have fun and here I was desperately using muscle memory with my mouth and neck to get through a song. This could not continue. It was absolute pain.”

He said he had no hearing in his left ear and about 40% left in his right, and in his worst moments the band’s instruments “just sounded monotone.” “And the terrible thing about it is that there is no blood, there is no visible sign,” he explained. “You’re just deaf. You suddenly realize that when it involves your job, you’re pretty much screwed and there’s not much you can do.” He described the five-year process with Ambrose’s technology as a challenging period. “But never give up!” he claimed. “And [then] I went on stage at Wembley in front of 100,000 people Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters.

“There I was, [facing] a real audience. Stephen Ambrose was there, Pab … was there, who makes me, and Paul McCartney – we’re the only two he does. I said, ‘Well, it’s shit or bust. If these [hearing aids] don’t work in front of the world and the whole music world …’ I went out there, the roof lifted from Wembley and I sang my little heart out. I did two songs and the place went completely wrong. I think I floated away. It was absolutely wonderful. So we knew it worked. We were absolutely jumping for joy next to the stage. It was something special.”

Johnson – who recently said he hoped AC/DC would regroup to make more music – confirmed that he has been approached by other artists who want him to sing for them. “But you have to be careful with Sony Records or whoever it is – they don’t like you just wandering around,” he explained.

“But this time with Dave Grohl and all that, as long as it’s on stage it’s okay, but as soon as it comes to putting records down, they’re all going to be fun.” He added that he “has some songs that aren’t out yet that I’ve written with a couple of people that I think are pretty good. In fact, I know they’re good. And one day I’m going to put them out, when it’s all done. I don’t know when, but I think they deserve an airing, you know? I wrote this wonderful line in one of them:Home of the brave / Land of the free / National pastime: me, me me.“This is America.”

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