Brian Johnson couldn't watch Axl Rose perform with AC/DC

brian johnson
(Image credit: Future)

Brian Johnson says he couldn't bring himself to watch Axl Rose sing with AC/DC in 2016.

Johnson had to step away from live performing on doctor's orders, or risk losing his hearing permanently. But with AC/DC having already committed to live dates, they had to go on without their singer and brought the Guns N' Roses vocalist in to keep the show on the road.

Ultimate Classic Rock reports that Johnson reveals in his autobiography The Lives of Brian that he has never watched footage of Rose's stint in the band. And Johnson also writes that he was driven to despair when he had to pull out of the band's live dates.

On Rose's performances, Johnson says: “I’m told that he did a great job, but I just couldn’t watch – especially when you’ve been doing it for 35 years. It’s like finding a stranger in your house, sitting in your favourite chair.

"But I bear no grudges. It was a tough situation. Angus and the lads did what they felt they had to do. That said, after the band released a statement confirming that I was leaving the tour and wishing me all the best for the future, I couldn’t relax or concentrate on anything. It was just always there.

"Part of the pain of it was that I blamed myself. For most of my career, I’d been in the loudest band in the world. I’d flown constantly. I’d flown even when I knew I wasn’t well.

"For a while, people would ask me if I was depressed, but depression is treatable. My hearing loss wasn’t. What I was feeling wasn’t depression. It was something closer to despair.”

Johnson has since returned to live performing, but says his forced withdrawal in 2016 left him feeling like he "wouldn't have minded" being killed in one of his car races.

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.