AC/DC Singer Brian Johnson Fell Into ‘Despair’ While Enduring Past Health Issues

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Back in 2016, AC/DC singer Brian Johnson fell into a great “despair” when he had to step away from performing due to health struggles. Those health struggles involved matters with his hearing.

Johnson speaks to this extremely difficult point in his life in his upcoming memoir, The Lives of Brian. Writing about the moment when he knew he had to step away from performing and take care of his health, Brian writes the following (all quotes have been transcribed by Ultimate Classic Rock):

“I called Tim, the tour manager, on my mobile right there in the room to tell him that I just couldn’t continue. It was one of the most difficult conversations of my life – the pain of it made worse over the weeks that followed when the tour simply went on without me. It was a sheer cliff. I didn’t tumble down, I was in free fall.”

Johnson then goes on to write, “part of the pain of it was that I blamed myself. For most of my career, I’d been in the loudest band in the world. I’d flown constantly. I’d flown even when I knew I wasn’t well. For a while, people would ask me if I was depressed, but depression is treatable. My hearing loss wasn’t. What I was feeling wasn’t depression. It was something closer to despair.”

After Brian stepped away from the band, Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose actually took on the role of band singer as part of the band’s Rock or Bust World Tour. While Brian says “I’m told that he did a great job,” he also goes on to write, “but I just couldn’t watch – especially when you’ve been doing it for 35 years. It’s like finding a stranger in your house, sitting in your favorite chair. But I bear no grudges. It was a tough situation.”

Brian says that the love and support of friends and fans helped him throughout this difficult time, however, this period also came with tremendous struggle. He hit a point of despair where, per his words, he “didn’t fucking care anymore.” Johnson writes the following:

“[…] The other thing I’ve always loved: racing cars. I found myself winning more than usual. People would come up to me afterwards and say, ‘Brian, you’re fearless!’ But I wasn’t fearless. I just didn’t fucking care any more. I’d always thought that the best way to go out would be at 180mph, flat-out around a corner. You’d hit the wall and boom, it would be over, just like that. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to die. … I just wouldn’t have minded all that much.”

We hope that your health is in a much better place today Brian. Back in 2020, AC/DC confirmed that Johnson was back in the band.