Brian Johnson Recalls His Bonding Moment With Malcolm Young

Stepping in Bon Scott’s shoes was a huge challenge, but Brian Johnson did a great job at it when he joined AC/DC. Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he looked back on his career with the band, recalling the first time he listened to AC/DC’s music and felt a bond between him and Malcolm Young.

After Bon Scott’s passing, AC/DC started to look for a new lead vocalist. Johnson impressed the rest of the band with his first audition, but they still decided to listen through the rest of the list of applicants. In the end, Malcolm Young called him for a second rehearsal. Thanks to his distinctive voice, love for soul and blues, and engaging personality, Brian got the job.

With Johnson as their lead singer, AC/DC immediately returned to the studio to record new materials. Since then, Brian has made great contributions to the band’s sound. Sadly, Malcolm’s dementia kicked in in 2014 and prevented him from working properly with AC/DC. As a result, the guitarist retired from the band and passed away just three years later.

Malcolm and Brian had formed a special bond since the singer joined AC/DC. During a recent interview, Johnson recalled that he and Malcolm drank a bottle of brown ale during his second rehearsal, making him feel closer to the band. This was also the first time the vocalist had heard AC/DC play, and he admitted that the band’s sound left him in awe.

Here is how Brian Johnson recalled the time he joined AC/DC and met Malcolm Young:

“AC/DC came about in 1980. I was 32, and I thought the music thing had gone by. I was great by then, really was. Geordie, too, they were called. I had time in my life, and then I got a call. So, that’s when I went to have a quick sing song with the boys from AC/DC. Oh, it was a lot, just to get a chance to have a sing with them a couple of times.

And Malcolm Young came over with a bottle of brown ale, and he just went, ‘You like these, don’t you?’ I said, ‘Oh, man, I could murder one! Thank you so much!’ Then I just went, ‘I like these lads,’ they were very friendly and warm, but when they started to play, I just went, ‘Wow, I’ve never heard anything like this before. This is something special.’ It really was. Very lucky to have a second shot.”

He then continued, giving advice to young singers and talking about his friendship with Malcolm:

“I’d like to pass this ‘Broken Down Angel,’ not down to one person but to every young kid who wants to be a singer and wants to sing in a rock and roll band. Just listen to it [‘Broken Down Angel’]; you can feel it, everything in his voice. And if you can learn from this, just the basics, you cannot go wrong.

I had a special relationship with him, which usually involved a bottle of whiskey and a good laugh. Half the time, I couldn’t understand a word he said. The more he drank, the more Glaswegian he got. But I think he was proud of that. He was proud of himself, and I was proud of him too.”

So, Malcolm Young’s warm welcome for Brian Johnson was a bonding moment for the singer. In the following years, they continued drinking together and enjoying their time. Johnson believed Young was the man who created AC/DC, so his passing was devastating for him. Still, his final memory of the guitarist was a good one.