Can Winnipeg’s Weather Be Blamed for Brian Johnson’s Issues with AC/DC?

Brian Johnson has been on the DL from his position of frontman for AC/DC for several months now, betrayed by his failing ears. Doctors cautioned that his hearing was so bad that he risked going deaf if he were to finish the band’s Rock or Bust tour–hence Axl Rose being brought in as a designated hitter.

Brian’s future status in AC/DC is uncertain, but he’s trying to be circumspect about his career. “I’ve had a pretty good run,” he said in an interview on SiriusXM, “I’ve been in one of the best bands in the world.”

It wasn’t loud music that led to Brian’s first medical issues; it was the volume of some of the cars he liked to drive. Things began when he forget to put in some earplugs when did some driving at Watkins Glen in 2007. About five minutes into his session on the track, he felt “a little pop,” which led to a prolonged period of tinnitus. And when AC/DC started up again, the “industrial noise” of being in a rock band began to exacerbate the problem.

Brian’s current issues can be traced to a show at Investors Field in Winnipeg on Saturday, September 17, 2015. It was an outdoor gig and the weather had turned wet and cold, dipping into single digits as the evening progress. The band also had some sound problems, and Brian especially seemed to struggle for his vocals to be heard. It was apparent he was giving it his all, but he wasn’t able to overcome whatever technical problems plagued the audio.

Immediately after the show, the band, wet and freezing cold, got on a two-and-a-half-hour flight to Vancouver. By the time they arrived, both Brian and Angus Young were running fevers. Brian was especially uncomfortable, with fluid building up in his sinuses and ears. That feeling–the inability to pop his right ear after the flight–stayed with him for several more shows. Time to see a specialist.

Brian went back to Australia for nine visits to an ear, nose and throat guy before Christmas. Those fluids that accumulated after the Winnipeg gig had begun to crystallize, compromising the hearing in his right ear–his good one. (He’s almost totally deaf in his left.) No treatment was able to break down those crystals. His right ear was never going to get better.

The band was very sympathetic. “[I]f I’d have kept on going, there was a possibility I would never hear again. Angus and Cliff just said, ‘Johnno, you’ve got to think of your health.’ And everybody else said, ‘Brian, your health comes first. You’ve done a whole year on the road. You’ve done everything. We want to finish.’ And that’s what they did. It’s simple. What people don’t understand is it is what it is.

“I’ve had such a lucky and great life. And I’m just thankful really that I came out of it in one piece. Now I guess I could rest me socks off.”

Listen to the entire interview here. (Via Tom and Rolling Stone)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.