AC/DC singer Brian Johnson has detailed his return to music after suffering hearing loss in 2016, in a new interview released yesterday (October 6).
Speaking with Rolling Stone, the rock’n’roll legend explained how he was able to recover from a “pretty serious” incident with hearing loss that led to his premature departure from the band’s ‘Rock Or Bust’ world tour in 2016.
“I couldn’t hear the tone of the guitars at all,” he said. “It was a horrible kind of deafness. I was literally getting by on muscle memory and mouth shapes.
“I was starting to really feel bad about the performances in front of the boys, in front of the audience. It was crippling. There’s nothing worse than standing there and not being sure.”
In the same interview, bandmate Cliff Williams recalled how on stage Johnson would “pull his in-ears out and just shake his head”, and that watching him struggle was hard for the band. “He couldn’t pitch,” said Williams, “he was having a real hard time.”
Risking permanent hearing loss, Johnson stepped away from the tour, with Angus Young adding, “Brian was running the risk of going deaf permanently.
“We had a few days to let everyone know the situation and get the message out.”
“I was starting to really feel bad about the performances in front of the boys, in front of the audience,” Brian added.
“It was crippling. There’s nothing worse than standing there and not being sure.”
In order to save his hearing, Johnson detailed how he enlisted the help of a medical specialist who began experimental treatment to restore his hearing. Though he would not reveal explicit details in the interview, Johnson said the specialist would come to his home once a month over a three-year period to try and abate his condition.
“The first time he came down he brought this thing that looked like a car battery,” Johnson explained. “I went, ‘What in the hell is that?’ He said, ‘We’re going to miniaturise it.’
“We’d sit there and it was boring as shit with all these wires and computer screens and noises. But it was well worth it.
“The only thing I can tell you is that it uses the bone structure in the skull as a receiver. That’s as much as I can tell you.”