Joe Elliott Criticizes AC/DC’s Handling of Brian Johnson’s Hearing Problems
Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott has criticized the way in which AC/DC handled the hearing problems that led singer Brian Johnson to leave the band, comparing the situation to how his band had to deal with drummer Rick Allen losing an arm in 1984.
AC/DC postponed 10 shows of their Rock or Bust world tour in 2016 after Johnson was told that he faced complete deafness if he didn’t stop performing immediately. He’s since been pursuing a number of solutions and made a handful of stage appearances.
AC/DC returned to the stage with Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose in Johnson’s place, and while some fans were unhappy with the move, others hailed the stand-in for his efforts. “I saw some stuff on YouTube and I think he did a pretty good job, actually,” Elliott told Life in the Stocks (via Blabbermouth). “He’s a huge fan, so he took to that like I would take to singing a Mott [the Hoople] song.”
When asked about how the lineup change was dealt with, however, Elliott was less positive. “I wouldn’t have done it like that,” he said. “I can’t speak for Angus [Young] and his team as to what their reasons were for doing what they did, but considering that we had a drummer lose an arm and we waited for him, the way that they dealt with it was not the way I would have done it. Put it that way.”
Noting that the solution at least “kept AC/DC on the road,” he continued: “But it’s not really AC/DC any more, is it?” He was referring to the spate of AC/DC lineup changes in recent years, staring with band leader Malcolm Young’s retirement in 2014 and the later departures of drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams. “It's basically just Angus and the other four now – so I don't know that Brian's ever gonna come back,” he said.