AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson feels very “lucky,” despite having to stop touring to avoid going deaf.
Speaking with Sirius -XM he sid: “What people don’t understand is it is what it is. It’s like a young sports player getting an injury. I feel sorry for them, 24, 25, have an injury and it ends their career. And it’s an awful thing. But I’m lucky. I’m 69 later this year and I’ve had a pretty good run. He didn’t tell me I had cancer or something terminal. And I had so many good times with the boys and 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.”
Even though Johnson was in one of rock’s loudest bands, that wasn’t the only cause of his problems. The part-time race car driver says he first experienced a problem at a race at Watkins Glen International. He forgot to put in his earplugs and felt a “little pop” in his ear. “I was like, ‘What the heck was that?’ But it was fine. All that happened was I had suffered tinnitus for about six or seven months. But it cleared up and then I was fine again.”
The problem flared up again last September 17th during an outdoor AC/DC show in Winnipeg, Canada. “We were dripping wet, soaking wet, absolutely freezing,” says Johnson.
“Unfortunately the fluids went up into my sinuses and around my ear.” During the Australian leg he went to see a specialist in Sydney whom he met with nine times before Christmas of last year. “I was getting worried because my right ear is my good ear. My left ear is just about totally deaf. And when we got there, that’s when Dr. Chang found out that the fluids had crystallized and had been eating away at my ear. So my good ear, I lost – I don’t know what percentage but it was enough to make things very difficult. So they worked on me.”
He didn’t respond to the treatment and was told he wouldn’t regain his hearing.
“The [band] saw the charts. I’d been getting checked regularly. And they saw there was a massive dip and if I’d have kept on going, there was a possibility I would never hear again. Angus [Young] and Cliff [Williams] 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.”
After auditioning numerous singers, including members of AC/DC tribute bands, Angus settled on Axl Rose for the second European and U.S. legs.