Brian Johnson On His First AC/DC Audition, ‘They Had Enough Of ‘Smoke On The Water”


AC/DC’s lead singer Brian Johnson recently spoke about his audition for the band after Bon Scott died. He stated that the band had enough of hearing ‘Smoke on the Water’ as a rehearsal song and that he surprised them by not auditioning with the Deep Purple song.

Bon Scott joined AC/DC in 1974 and became an iconic figure with the band. He contributed to their all-time favorite album ‘Highway to Hell,’ and performed with them until he sadly passed away in 1980 from alcohol poisoning and left the band without a lead singer. The group considered breaking up until they thought about Brian Johnson.

Before his passing, Bon Scott had previously praised Johnson, and therefore the band decided to hold an audition to hire a new singer. They picked Johnson among the candidates, and he became a long-term vocalist for the band. AC/DC is still actively creating and performing their songs with the lineup of Brian Johnson, Angus Young, Phil Rudd, Cliff Williams, and Stevie Young.

In a recent interview, Johnson spoke about his audition to join AC/DC. He told how the band was tired of hearing candidates sing ‘Smoke on the Water.’ Most of them sang this song due to its popularity, but Johnson surprised the group when he sang, ‘Nutbush City Limits.’ He also sang ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ by AC/DC and found good energy with the band that they all knew he was the one they were looking for from the beginning.

Here is how Johnson told the story of his audition:

“I met the lads, and they were sitting there. I will never forget Malcolm. He walked up, there was a bottle of Brown ale, and he said, ‘This is what you drink, isn’t it?’ I said, ‘Oh mate, I could murder it.’ I was a little not nervous; that’s not the right word. I knew I was in. These guys were good. I mean, I’d already seen them perform on the TV. He said, ‘Well, what do you wanna do?’ We sorted out a song. I think it was ‘Nutbush City Limits’ which took them by surprise.

Mal said, ‘Well, at least it’s not ‘Smoke on the Water.’’ All the other guys have been coming up with their ‘Smoke on the Water.’ I think they had enough of that. It was fun. Then he said, ‘Do you know any of our songs?’ And I said, ‘Whole Lotta Rosie.’ And he went, ‘Wow.’

I didn’t know what it was but as soon as they started playing and I was singing with him and everything, there was just something that happened that I’m not clever enough to tell you what it was, but you could tell. My hair was standing on, and it was just fantastic. I never sang with a band this good. They were just great. Phil on the Drums, Cliff on the bass, Malcolm and Angus together with the guitars.”

You can watch the entire interview below.