Why Brian Johnson Refused To Join AC/DC At First, And What Changed His Decision

AC/DC’s history has not only been full of great international fame and commercial success but also full of tragedies, turmoils which almost made the band members stop performing and creating music. One of these tragedies, which both the fans and AC/DC members still can’t forget, was the band’s lead singer, Bon Scott’s, unexpected and early death.

Bon Scott died because of acute alcohol poisoning on February 19, 1980, at 33. AC/DC’s remaining members were so devastated by the news that they considered disbanding. However, they decided to stay together and continue to produce music as a tribute to their late friend and bandmate. They wanted to hire Geordie’s lead singer Brian Johnson, but he initially refused to come to the auditions.

Why Did Brian Johnson Refuse To Join AC/DC?

Brian Johson was going through tough times when AC/DC’s team approached him. His band Geordie had disbanded two years ago, and he had to face serious financial problems due to not earning any money from the band’s works. Thus, when an anonymous band from London wanted him to join the auditions, he refused the offer saying that he couldn’t afford the trip.

After Johnson learned the band was AC/DC, he got very excited as their huge fan. However, he still didn’t want to go to London because he thought he was too old to be AC/DC’s lead singer. Then, André Jacquemin offered him a job which was singing for a vacuum cleaner advertisement and it became the turning point of Johnson’s life.

Johnson recalled these times saying:

“It was a great moment in my life but as far as history is concerned, I don’t think so. But it was a strange day I was in Newcastle, I had a little company and it was this lady – the phone rang and I picked it up, and it was just a lady with a German accent.

She was going ‘Is this Brian Johnson?’. And I said, ‘It is. Who is this?’

She said, ‘I cannot say this, I cannot say. We must – we are wanting you to come to London and to sing with the band, audition.”

I said, ‘Which band is this?’ ‘I cannot say also.’ I said, ‘Well, I’m not coming down to London.’ I said I’ve already been bitten by the music book with Geordie – three years with Geordie and I came away with not a penny in my pocket.

I said, ‘I’m not gonna do it again’ and she said, ‘But you must! This is this – you must come!’ And I kept thinking in my mind, I always remembered, ‘You got to remember – the bigger the German, the smaller the swimsuit.’

So I thought, ‘Something’s behind this…’ And I said, ‘Well, if you tell me who it is, I’ll consider it,’ you know, I mean, ‘I can’t afford just to go popping down to London.’ She said, ‘The initials, I will tell you the initials.’ She says, ‘AC, and DC.’ And I said, ‘You mean AC/DC.’ She said, ‘Scheiße! I have said too much!’ This is true by the way, I’m not making this up.”

He added:

“I said, ‘What? No.’ I said they’re a great band and all that but I’m too old, I’m 32 – they’ll not be interested, it’ll be a waste of a trip.

An hour later – this is just strange, I know – a wonderful fella called André Jacquemin, who did all the ‘Monty Python’ music, he phoned me up. He said, ‘Listen, I’ve got a lovely studio now, called Redwood, and I’m doing adverts, mate. I’m doing one for Hoover. You know Hoover?’

I said, ‘Yeah, the vacuums.’ He said, ‘Do you fancy coming down to sing on his? It’s 350 quid.’ I said, ‘What? Are you kidding? Of course, I will, when do you need this?’

He told us, three days and I said, ‘I can be there in three days’ time.’ I went down and I went into the studio and 350 quid, I went, ‘I was hopping in the wrong business, bollocks the blues,’ I thought.”

Therefore, the advertisement help Brian Johnson realize that he should continue his career as a professional singer, and he went to London. He sang ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and ‘Nutbush City Limits’ during the auditions and AC/DC members highly appreciated his talent. So Johnson became the band’s frontman on April 1, 1980 thanks to his unique vocal talent and a vacuum cleaner advertisement.