AC/DC: THE LEADING CONTENDERS TO REPLACE BRIAN JOHNSON

First published 21 March 2017

Whatever the real truth is about the Brian Johnson situation, it looks like we can say for absolute certainty that the Geordie singer really has been fired from the band he has fronted for the last 36 years.

This whole unpleasant shit-storm erupted last week when AC/DC put out a statement that said they were postponing their remaining ten American dates because the frontman had been advised by doctors to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss. The dates were to be re-scheduled later in the year, “likely with a guest vocalist”.

Johnno had indeed been told this by his doctors and informed the band with a view to finding a solution as he didn’t believe the problem was as bad as his medics thought.

The very next day, AC/DC put out their statement without informing the singer and Johnno’s close friend, Jim Breuer said on The Metal In Me podcast that Johnno feels like he’s been “kicked to the curb” by the band. He was also said to be depressed about the situation and upset that his [former] bandmates and management were being unresponsive.

As a sidenote, Phil Rudd also made the same unresponsive complaint when he was having difficulties last year and was apparently never informed officially that he was to be replaced on the current tour.

Breuer later backtracked on his comments, saying that he was not actually quoting Johnno with the “kicked to the curb” comment but the message remained the same and there is little doubt that everything Breuer originally said is basically the truth.

And just this weekend an anonymous informant told NME that: “Jonna’s [Brian] a fab guy and has been treated like shit. He does have hearing issues but not as serious as they’re saying. This was just an excuse to fire the guy, basically.”

This ties in perfectly with several reports that state Johnno feels “betrayed” and thinks that his successor has already been chosen.

The band are reportedly holed up in a secret location, auditioning singers to finish the remaining US tour dates and beyond.

The source said lead guitarist and sole remaining original member Angus Young has narrowed the search down to two or three guys, all relative unknowns outside of their respective countries. “They’re not well known names. The band never considered any big name vocalists to replace Brian. I think they wanted to find a fresh new talent.

“The plan is to decide on the singer within the next couple of weeks, maybe sooner, reschedule the tour and get back out on the road as if nothing’s happened.”

Asked if the band plans on retiring after the tour, the informant is confident the band will carry on. “No, no, part of this audition process has been working on new song ideas. I think Angus wants to get back in the studio after a much shorter break this time. It’s no longer a band anymore but a brand, similar to KISS I suppose, which is a bit nauseating honestly.”

Hopefully that message will kill speculation that Axl Rose is to be the new AC/DC singer. Rose was spotted in Atlanta over the weekend and according to MSL from GNRTruth he was there for rehearsals, but not for Guns N’ Roses. This led to rampant speculation that Rose could be the new AC/DC man but thankfully this looks to be totally untrue.

The outstanding candidate is Marc Storace from Krokus who says he turned down the chance to audition for AC/DC after Bon Scott passed away in 1980.

“I wasn’t interested at all,” Storace said in a 2013 interview. “I was happy in Switzerland, Krokus started just to break through internationally — even in the United States. We were number one everywhere. In the band, there was this great camaraderie. I did not want to leave to go anywhere else. I was here at home. I am a loyal dog.”

But Storace has made it clear he wouldn’t turn down another audition and has even hinted that talks may already have begun.

“There’s my loyalty to Krokus, but the guys would understand if the offer came and I would certainly take it up this time and go for an audition,” Storace said. “Then it’s up to Angus to decide. For me, AC/DC is Angus Young — no offense to Brian Johnson. I think Brian Johnson did a magnificent job with his special unique kind of voice. But losing your hearing is not a nice thing. It’s like losing our eyesight for a musician.”

Storace seemed to suggest that he’s received overtures from execs at Krokus and AC/DC’s shared label, Sony. “I actually didn’t even have to call Sony. They were already on the ball. This thing is not an easy thing to decide. I don’t know what’s happening and I don’t wanna ask. I’m concentrating on my life and if they decide it’s gonna be someone else, I’ll continue with my life like I’ve always done.”

AC/DC are not short of offers though. Hives singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist took to the band’s Facebook page to avail his services. “That man is a legend. I would like to offer my sincerest well wishes and get wells. And if any help is needed I put my foot forward and say: HERE I AM!”

Well that’s a relief then…

Bon Scott and Brian Johnson are not the only ones who have ever sang for AC/DC. When the band started in 1973 they were fronted by Dave Evans, who now apparently is offering his services to front the band once more.

Evans did one song, ‘Girl, Can I Sit Next To You’, with the band in 1974 and now says his fans would back him to fill the vacancy.

Evans’ name and photo don’t appear on AC/DC’s official website, although Bon Scott’s do, something that has grated on Evans in the past. In 2012, he told Sweden’s NRK: “It annoys me and it annoys the fans too that only Bon Scott and Brian Johnson are thought to have sung for AC/DC. Without me there would have been no AC/DC.”

So that’s Dave Evans completely out of the running for the job then.

We, however, have found the ideal candidate to replace Johnno and her name is Cristina Ramos, a 37-year-old opera singer who recently appeared on Spain’s Got Talent.

Cristina flummoxed judges by appearing onstage in a demure black dress and singing some dreary opera stuff before ripping off her dress and tearing into a rendition of ‘Highway To Hell’. She was rewarded with a Golden Buzzer which ushers her straight into the next round and a standing ovation, as you can see in the clip here.

There’s some other interesting names that spring to mind, for example Joel O’Keefe from Airbourne and Michael Starr from Steel Panther but whoever gets the job, it will be a poisoned chalice due to the way AC/DC have treated Brian Johnson. There’s a right way to do things and it certainly wasn’t this way.

Here’s a clip of AC/DC’s final gig with Johnno in Kansas. At 1.50 Brian Johnson holds his back and looks uncomfortable afterwards. Maybe there’s a lot more to this whole sorry story?

Here’s sending Brian Johnson all our very best wishes, always. And here’s a clip of Johnno in his pre-AC/DC band Geordie in 1973, just to show our support.

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