Brian Johnson pays tribute to Nazareth's Dan McCafferty: "I wanted to sing like him"

Brian Johnson on stage and Dan McCafferty (studio shot)
(Image credit: Brian Johnson: Kevin Winter | Dan McCafferty: Fin Costello)

AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson has paid heartfelt tribute to late Nazareth singer Dan McCafferty, who died last month, revealing what an inspiration the Scot was on his own career.

"I loved Dan," says Johnson. "I wanted to sing like him. I was at a submarine base in Glasgow when they [Nazareth] were supporting Geordie. And I stopped and watched them first, and thought, 'What a band!'. And that's when I got the first feeling that Geordie were just getting left behind a little with this pop stuff."

The same night, McCafferty took Johnson out to the car park and played him a cassette of Nazaraeth's latest single, Broken Down Angel (released in April 1973). Johnson then ends the interview by playing the song, saying "Can I play this in the memory of Dan McCafferty – my good pal – and to all his family."

Johnson was speaking on BBC Radio 6's The First Time... with Matt Everett, where he detailed some of the most pivotal musical moments of his life. During the hour-long broadcast, he talks about the life-long impact of hearing Little Richard as a young boy, how he discovered his own singing talents in a Scout show, and about the experience of joining AC/DC in 1980 and recording Back In Black. 

He also details some of his more recent history, from the hearing problems that obliged him to leave AC/DC in 2016, to the technological breakthroughs that allowed him to return, and the recent Taylor Hawkins show in London.  

The show is punctuated by 14 tracks, which include songs by Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, as well as eight tracks featuring Johnson himself – one by Geordie, and seven from AC/DC. Complete list below.  

In October, Johnson revealed the 10 songs that have soundtracked his life, while in conversation with BBC Radio 2's Ken Bruce show. Johnson's selection includes Black Sabbath's Paranoid and Led Zeppelin's Rock And Roll.

The Brian Johnson episode of The First Time... with Matt Everett is available on the BBC website until December 27.  

Brian Johnson on The First Time... with Matt Everett: Playlist

AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night Long
Joe Brown & The Bruvvers - A Picture Of You
Little Richard - Tutti Frutti
The Rolling Stones - Carol
Bob Dylan - Girl from the North Country
Geordie - Don't Do That
Ike & Tina Turner - Nutbush City Limits
AC/DC - Whole Lotta Rosie
AC/DC - Thunderstruck
AC/DC - Back In Black
AC/DC - Hells Bells
AC/DC - Shot In The Dark
AC/DC - Through The Mists Of Time
Nazareth - Broken Down Angel

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.