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Brian Johnson (born 5 October 1947) is an Englishmarker singer and songwriter who, since 1980, has been the lead singer for the Australian rock band AC/DC, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker in 2003 along with the other members of the band.

In 1972, Brian Johnson became one of the founding members of the glam rock band Geordie. After a few hit singles, including UKmarker Top 10 "All Because Of You" (1973), the band split up in 1978 then to be reformed by Johnson in 1980. But after signing a new record deal, Johnson was asked to audition for AC/DC, whose charismatic frontman, Bon Scott, had died on February 19, 1980. A fan sent the band's management a tape of Johnson performing with Geordie. With the support of his bandmates in Geordie, and following advice from popular radio host James Whale, Brian Johnson joined AC/DC.

Johnson's first album with AC/DC, Back in Black, is the second best selling album of all time, and the best selling album by any band.

In 1997, Johnson recorded with the band Jackyl on their song "Locked and Loaded", and in 2002 wrote lyrics on the track "Kill the Sunshine" from their album Relentless.



Brian Johnson was born in Gatesheadmarker, England. He is of Scottish and Italian descent and is the eldest of four siblings. Johnson's father, Alan, was a Sergeant Major of the British Army's Durham Light Infantry and a coal miner; his mother, Esther De Luca, was an Italianmarker from Frascatimarker. When he was young, Johnson performed in various shows with the Scouts, and appeared in a play which aired on television, and joined a local church choir.

Early career

Johnson's first band was the Gobi Desert Canoe Club. He was also in a band called Fresh. From 1970, Johnson played with cabaret/club band The Jasper Hart Band , performing songs from the musical Hair as well as soft-rock/pop songs of the time. He and other members of the band went on to form Geordie.

The first and only solo single, "I Can't Forget You Now" Johnson released also as a member of Geordie in January 1976 on Red Bus label. In 1982, a compilation including only Geordie's 1973-1976 ten songs was issued as Brian Johnson's solo album Strange Man on the MCA label. The US 1989 CD Keep On Rocking, with re-recorded versions of the band's twelve known songs was released under the name of Brian Johnson & Geordie as well as the Australian 1991 compilation CD Rockin' With The Boys 1972-1976.


At the AC/DC audition, Johnson sang the songs "Whole Lotta Rosie" and "Nutbush City Limits" (Ike & Tina Turner). A few days later, the band told Johnson he would be the new vocalist of AC/DC.

Throughout the 1980's Johnson had co-written all of AC/DC's songs with Angus Young and Malcolm Young until personal matters diverted him during the writing of The Razors Edge album in 1990. Since then, the Young brothers have written much of AC/DC's material. In 2008, they released their new album (the tenth with Johnson), Black Ice.

Brian Johnson customarily wears a cap on stage and frequently off. Originally, he wore a flat cap, once regarded as a symbol of his native Tynesidemarker, but has occasionally worn baseball caps as well. His brother suggested that the singer wear the cap onstage to prevent sweat rolling off his thick, curly hair into his eyes while singing. "He said, 'Put it on, at least you'll be able to see what the bloody freak you're doing!' So I put it on and after three songs in the second set, I looked at him, put my thumbs up — 'This is brilliant!' He never did get that hat back."

Helen of Troy musical

Since April 2003, Brian Johnson, who says "I love musical theatre, especially the classic stuff, like Rodgers and Hammerstein", has been working on a musical version of Helen of Troy with Sarasota Ballet choreographer, Robert de Warren. The musical is a Les Miserables-style musical with rousing anthems, tender ballads and minimal dialogue. He conceived the project with writers Ian La Frenais, Dick Clement and Brendan Healy after seeing Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, Cats and being underwhelmed at what he saw.

Malcolm McDowell, who made his recording debut singing one of the songs for the soundtrack in Brian's studio, has agreed to play Zeus. The Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan and Bruce Vilanch are also set to participate.

A small public performance, that featured songs written for the musical, was given in New Yorkmarker on June 13, 2005.

Other activities

A car and racing enthusiast, Brian Johnson currently enjoys racing his vintage race cars: a Royale RP-4 and a Pilbeam MP84, which he races in vintage and historic races throughout the United Statesmarker.

On 26 July 2009 Johnson appeared as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car on the BBC television programme Top Gear. His time of 1:45.9 ties him with Simon Cowell and Kevin McCloud for the second fastest time in the Chevrolet Lacetti, just 0.1 seconds behind Jay Kay.

He also made a cameo appearance in the 2005 film "Goal!" where he appears as a Newcastle United fan in a bar in Californiamarker watching a Newcastle game.

In the video game Call of Duty: Finest Hour, he voices Sergeant Starkey of British forces.

Possible retirement

In July 2009, Brian Johnson was interviewed by Classic Rock magazine, and stated that he is thinking about retirement.

The singer dismissed recent speculation that he intends to retire at the end of AC/DC's current world tour, but stressed he will hang up his microphone come the day he is unable to perform for a whole show.

"I'm 62, but I have to sing like I was 32" he said. "People have been talking about it, but it's not me that wants to retire. I'll go as long as I keep going, but I only have one gear as a singer. I don't want to break down in the middle of a set, or only perform for half the show."

His autobiography "Rockers and Rollers" was published in October 2009.

Personal life

Johnson married his first wife, Carol, in 1968. They divorced during the writing of the The Razors Edge album. They have two daughters, Joanne and Kala. He is now married to Brenda.

He currently resides at his home in Sarasota, Floridamarker.


With Geordie
Title Release date Label
Hope You Like It 1973 EMI
Don't Be Fooled By The Name 1974 EMI
Save The World 1976 EMI
No Good Woman 1978 EMI

With AC/DC
Title Release date Label U.S. Album Sales
Back in Black July 1980 Atlantic 25,000,000
For Those About to Rock November 1981 Atlantic 4,000,000
Flick of the Switch September 1983 Atlantic 1,000,000
Fly on the Wall June 1985 Atlantic 1,000,000
Who Made Who May 1986 Atlantic 5,000,000
Blow Up Your Video January 1988 Atlantic 2,000,000
The Razors Edge September 1990 Atco 5,000,000
Live October 1992 Atco 5,000,000
Ballbreaker September 1995 Elektra 2,000,000
Stiff Upper Lip February 2000 Elektra 1,000,000
Black Ice October 2008 Columbia 2,000,000

Title Release date
Totally Baked Soundtrack April 2007


  1. Rockers and Rollers : An Automotive Autobiography pg. 7
  2. Rockers and Rollers : An Automotive Autobiography pg. 107
  3. Italian Rock Hard magazine, January 2004
  4. Classic Rock magazine, October 2003
  5. Rockers and Rollers : An Automotive Autobiography pg. 100
  6. Rockers and Rollers : An Automotive Autobiography pgs. 84, 106
  7. Helen of Troy (200?) Malcolm McDowell, Brian Johnson of AC/DC

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