AC/DC’s Angus Young will be ‘forever grateful’ to ‘lifesaver’ Axl Rose

Axl DC
(Image credit: Roger Sargent/Getty Images)

While Brian Johnson’s departure from AC/DC in March 2016, mid-way through the American leg of the Rock Or Bust tour, came as a complete shock to fans, absolutely no-one could have predicted that when the band kicked off their European tour in Lisbon, Portugal less than two months later, Guns N’ Roses vocalist Axl Rose would be fronting the band.

Judging by a new interview Angus Young and Brian Johnson gave to Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Young was as surprised as anyone.

As the guitarist remembers it, DC and their ‘people’ were weighing up the possibility of bringing in a guest singer to complete the shows already on their docket, mindful of the financial and legal implications of pulling the rest of the dates, when “out of the blue” a message was delivered suggesting that lifelong ‘DC fan Rose was prepared to help out, indeed would “gladly” do so.

“I'd only met him a long time ago in the 80s,” Young admits. “He had come to a show and he was, to me, he was very, very nice and everything. So, we got to a rehearsal place and tried out and he put a lot of effort in everything. Basically, that's how it came in to be, that allowed us to finish off those dates.”

“So for us, it was a heaven sent. It was a little bit like a lifesaver. Even though he had done his foot in before he started, he borrowed a chair. He was determined he was going to go.”

“The first show we had to do, I think it was in Portugal [at Lisbon’s Passeio Maritimo de Algés, specifically, on May 7, 2016],” Young remembers. “It was a horrible day. It was raining and everything, it was open air. It was… everything was going wrong and then just at the last minute, the sky cleared, the storm went away. We got on stage and got through. He performed from the chair, gave it his best shot and we got through.”

“So for the band, we'll be forever grateful and he helped us get through all of those shows.”

You can hear Zane Lowe’s full interview with Young and Johnson below.

As we may have mentioned once or twice, Power Up will be released on November 13. The first Acca Dacca album since 2014’s Rock Or Bust will be available in the usual formats including gatefold 180g vinyl – including a yellow vinyl version exclusive to the AC/DC webstore.

There's also a limited edition deluxe Power Up box, which is adorned by a button fans can press. Do so, and let’s face it, you won’t be able to help yourself, and a flashing neon AC/DC logo lights up and - WAHEY! - the opening bars of Shot In The Dark blast out of a built-in speaker. As if the Devil himself is in the box, with a tiny transistor radio, which just happens to be playing Shot In The Dark.

Malcolm Young receives a writing co-credit on all 12 tracks on the new album.

AC/DC are on the cover of the new issue of Classic Rock, which is on sale now. 

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.