The Darkness' Justin Hawkins explains why he grabbed the mic from AC/DC's Brian Johnson at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert

Justin Hawkins and Brian Johnson holding onto the same microphone whilst singing
(Image credit: YouTube)

On September 3, stars from across the music world graced the stage of London's Wembley Stadium to honour the late Taylor Hawkins.

There was one moment during the six hour spectacular which confused many watching: the moment when The Darkness' frontman Justin Hawkins unexpectedly appeared onstage alongside AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson to launch into an impromptu duet on Back In Black.

As the AC/DC singer (with backing from the Foo Fighters and Metallica's Lars Ulrich) performed the classic hit, he appeared to be struggling to grasp the microphone while sharing it with Hawkins, who seemed to be trying to steal it away. But The Darkness' frontman has now clarified what really happened.

Taking to Twitter to set the record straight, Hawkins explains, "[Ten] seconds before the AC DC section Brian told me to get up for the second verse of BIB. I didn't want to do it, never sung that before but [Grohl] said 'if Brian tells you to do something, you fucking do it.' Haha".

In a follow-up tweet, he wrote: "To be honest, I feel like BJ just wanted to drag me up for a laugh and to give his voice a few seconds to recover in time for the rest of the track. I thought he did an AMAZING job and I'm always happy to help out when needed."

In a more elaborate explanation, the vocalist revealed on social media: "10 minutes before the AC/DC segment of the tribute, Brian Johnson asked me to come up and sing the second verse of Back In Black. I initially refused, I've never sung it before and I didn't want it to seem like I was gatecrashing. However, Brian really was insistent and Dave Grohl told me that 'if Brian tells you to do something, you fucking do it.'

"I had [The Darkness drummer] Rufus [Taylor] pull up the lyrics on his phone and I gave it a go, but in all honesty I think Brian just wanted to create a memorable spontaneous moment and have a laugh so he could really push on and smash the rest of his set. 

"The stage manager scrambled to prepare a microphone for me, but I didn't know which one I was supposed to take and I ended up have to steal Brian's, which looked a bit awkward. [Face with tears of joy emoji].

"Brian Johnson is an absolutely legend and Dave was right, I couldn't turn it down."

Other performances on the night included mini sets from Liam Gallagher, Rush's Geddy Lee/Alex Lifeson, Wolfgang Van Halen, Joshua Homme, Chrissie Hynde, Queen's Brian May/Roger Taylor and more.

Taylor Hawkins passed away whilst on tour with the Foo Fighters on March 25, 2022. 

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.