AC/DC tribute band singer tells of audition with Angus Young and co

Lee Robinson
Lee Robinson (Image credit: Formont Photography)

A construction worker and frontman with an AC/DC tribute band has told how he was offered the chance of a lifetime in the form of an audition with Angus Young and co.

Lee Robinson – the singer with Raleigh, North Carolina AC/DC tribute act Thunderstruck – tried out for the chance to replace Brian Johnson during a two-hour audition with the real AC/DC in Atlanta last month.

The rock giants were looking for a new frontman after Brian Johnson was ordered to step back from touring on doctor’s orders. And while 26-year-old Robinson says it was the experience of a lifetime, he eventually lost out on the job to Guns N’ Roses vocalist Axl Rose.

Robinson was discovered by AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams on YouTube and got the call from his bandmate Jeff ‘Angus’ Young, who had been contacted by AC/DC’s management firm. Robinson was flown to Atlanta where he played with his heroes on March 14.

He says: “Once they started playing I was just excited and was just standing there like, ‘What the hell. I’m playing with AC/DC.’ Chris Slade hit the drums so hard I kept moving forward because I thought it was Angus behind me.

“Even just standing there playing in rehearsal, Angus had enormous energy.”

After four songs, AC/DC went out for a short break and Robinson sat alone in the studio thinking his audition was over. But they returned and played for almost two hours, putting the singer through his paces with nearly every song on the Rock Or Bust tour setlist as well as renditions of classics such as What Do You Do For Money, Honey, Given’ The Dog A Bone, Sin City and Guns For Hire.

Robinson adds: “They didn’t want a Brian Johnson copy. They wanted someone who could make it their own.”

Once the audition was over, AC/DC asked Robinson not to say a word until they had made an announcement. Although he was disappointed to lose out to Rose, Robinson says he’d be happy to fill in if Axl needs a rest when the Rock Or Bust tour rolls into Greensboro, North Carolina.

Thunderstruck formed in 2013 and describe themselves as “the most authentic-sounding AC/DC tribute show in the southeastern US.” Robinson was snapped up by the band when they saw him singing Highway To Hell in a local bar. He had never sang in a band before joining the tribute act.

His story has similarities to that of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens who replaced Rob Halford in Judas Priest in the 1990s. Owens fronted Priest tribute band British Steel when he was discovered. The 2001 film Rock Star is based on Owens’ story.

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Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.