AC/DC’s Brian Johnson responds to rumour Bon Scott wrote ‘Back In Black’ lyrics before death

The legendary album was in its early stages of development at the time of Scott's death in 1980

AC/DC‘s Brian Johnson has responded to the rumour that Bon Scott wrote lyrics for the ‘Back In Black’ LP before his death.

Scott fronted the legendary Australian hard rock band from 1974 until his death in 1980, with Johnson then taking over from 1980 until 2016, and again from 2018 to the present day.

In his new memoir, The Lives Of Brian, Johnson refutes rumours that the band’s iconic hit was in fact penned by Scott prior to his death.

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Discussing the theories in a new Rolling Stone interview, and why he felt forced into discussing them, Johnson said: “There was one particular journalist — a writer in Australia — who just wouldn’t let go of this thing. And of course, Malcolm and Angus [Young, AC/DC guitarists] were, like, ‘What a fucking load of bullshit.’

“And I said, ‘I wish you would tell him.’ And their attitude was always, ‘Just leave it. Just let them talk himself into a fuckin’ early grave.’ And of course, it became more and more obvious by the day that Bon hadn’t, because the riffs weren’t written then. The boys were still doing it. So we didn’t say anything because otherwise it would have given him more fame.”

Johnson added: “It wasn’t something that stuck in me craw a lot, but every now and again, a fan would come up and say, ‘This guy’s saying this.’ And factually, it wasn’t true. There wasn’t an Internet then; it didn’t really get further than Australia. But I thought it was awful I had to explain myself and that’s why in the book, I went, once and for all, I want to put this baby to bed.”

Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson of AC/DC performs at Tacoma Dome on February 2, 2016 in Tacoma, Washington (Picture: Getty)

Described as “one of the most cheering and entertaining stories in rock‘n’roll history,” The Lives of Brian will cover Johnson’s childhood growing up in Dunston, where he went from “choirboy and cub scout to singer” after watching Little Richard perform on TV.

“For over a decade [Johnson] tried to make his mark with a succession of bands. He appeared on Top of the Pops, toured Australia and yet the big time looked out of reach,” a synopsis adds.

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“Then he was invited to London for an audition for one of the world’s biggest rock acts. AC/DC were a band in crisis following the tragic death of their lead singer, Bon Scott, but with Brian on board they would record their masterpiece: ‘Back in Black’. It became the biggest-selling rock album of all time. The tour that followed played to packed-out arenas. Quickly embraced by the band’s fans, the new boy had earned his spurs.

“It’s been a rollercoaster of a life, throughout which Brian’s kept his feet firmly on the ground, never losing touch with his roots.”

Elsewhere in the book, Johnson admitted that he “couldn’t watch” Axl Rose fill in for him in AC/DC. Johnson recalled the time he had to step away from AC/DC due to hearing issues in 2016. During this time, the Guns N’ Roses‘ frontman stepped in for him until he was well enough to return.

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