AC/DC’s Brian Johnson Returns to the Stern Show

Rocker reveals how he came to be in the iconic band

May 25, 2011
Photo: The Howard Stern Show

Howard welcomed AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson, warning listeners about his gravelly accent: “Your radios are fine if, when Brian talks, you don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.”

Brian was audibly pleased to return (“Hello boys! I’m back!”), telling the crew he was now 63 and will be 64 in October. “[But] it’s all still there. Just checking the wings on my willy,” he said.

Asked how he got his start, Brian said he sang for a band called Geordie for several years–they even scored several top 10 hits (in the UK): “But we had no money. We got ripped off like every other ’70s band.”

So, even though he was a public figure, he still worked as a mechanic, and was often recognized when customers brought their cars to his garage. “That’s when I started wearing a hat,” he said.

Brian said he was recommended to AC/DC after Bon Scott’s death.

“There was a fan from Cleveland, to my eternal debt or thanks–Mutt Lange–who kept saying, ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘You gotta try this guy.’” Before his death, even Bon Scott had told the other guys in AC/DC that Brian was the best “of all the rock singers I’d seen in England.”

So Brian–with some reservations–went to an audition. The band welcomed him with his hometown’s signature beer, a Newcastle Brown Ale: “And I drank it [and] we sang and played.”

The chemistry was immediate: “I got goosebumps, they got–eyes started going wide … they said, ‘You can’t leave.’” The band put him on wage for the first six months, after which he became a full-fledged member of the world’s hardest rock band.