It was him.
Why clarify that now? It’s because rumors have persisted for decades that the lyric writer was actually the AC/DC vocalist who preceded him, the late singer Bon Scott.
But Johnson makes no bones about the rumor in his new memoir, The Lives of Brian, which was released this week. And in an accompanying interview on Tuesday (Oct. 25), the current AC/DC frontman recalled why the gossip emerged anyway.
Johnson told Rolling Stone, “There was one particular journalist — a writer in Australia — who just wouldn’t let go of this thing. And of course, [AC/DC guitarists] Malcolm and Angus [Young] 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.'”
The singer continued, “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.”
In The Lives of Brian, Johnson recalls of the writing of “Back in Black,” “It was me at the end of the pen, writing every night and every morning, with only the title to work with.” The clarification arrives in Chapter 22, “Rolling Thunder.”
“That’s what happened,” Johnson concludes in the book. “That’s the truth and I really hope that settles it.”
AC/DC, “Back in Black” (Music Video)
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