Hangin’ with AC/DC while Brian Johnson and Malcolm Young talk Bon Scott


By Steve Newton

I guess one of the cooler in-person interviews I’ve ever done was that time back in October of ’83 when I hung out with three members of AC/DC–singer Brian Johnson, rhythm-guitarist Malcolm Young, and then-new drummer Simon Wright–at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver.

The Aussie earbusters were in town to launch their Flick of the Switch Tour, which started October 11 at the Pacific Coliseum and ended on December 19 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

They were sitting around on the hotel-room floor smokin’ ciggies and drinking tea. There was no Jack Daniels to be found. Just as well, because I had a bad cold at the time. That’s me coughing. I remember bumming a smoke off one of the guys, which didn’t help the coughing anyway.

At one point in the conversation I asked Johnson about the pressure of replacing Bon Scott, and then asked Young about what it was like making the first album without Bon.

Have a listen:

(ya gotta crank the volume a bit. It’s AC/DC, after all.)


And for those who having trouble figuring out what the fvck Brian Johnson is saying through his thick British accent, here’s a transcription:

ME: Brian, how did you feel about joining AC/DC after the tragic death of Bon Scott? Was there a lot of pressure going into such a popular band?

JOHNSON: Oh I was probably going through the same as what Simon’s going through. Not pressure in the sense of kinda real pressure. You felt it, then that was it. But you had to just do it, you know. It’s hard to explain.

ME: How did you join the band? Did they just come up and ask you one day?

JOHNSON: Aw, it was just the same as Simon.

ME: You saw an ad in the paper?

JOHNSON: No, there wasn’t an ad in the paper. I think at the time it…

YOUNG: Word of mouth.

JOHNSON: …it was just word of mouth, ’cause the boys weren’t sure themselves what was happening yet. It was a couple of weeks after Bon’s death, and they decided to keep goin’, and they just put a few feelers out to see what would happen. And I just went down and had a sing with the lads, and that worked out allright.

ME: I thought Back in Black was a really good album. What was it like for you, Malcolm, to make that album with the new singer, without Bon? Was it much different?

YOUNG: Yeah, it was different. But that material, we were working on it for Bon at the time. So that was the weirdest part. And when Brian stepped in he stepped in right in that album, not even goin’ on the road or anything. It was a bit strange, but it was good because we really had to work hard on it, you know.

JOHNSON: I think I was a bit luckier than Simon to actually go into the studio, workin’ with the lads first, before I went on the road, ya know. Cause you get the chance to know people better and live with them for a few weeks, so I was lucky in that respect.

To hear my full 1983 interview with the AC/DC boys, subscribe to my Patreon page, where for $5 U.S. you can also hear my interviews with:

Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Mick Ronson, 1988
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Rob Hirst of Midnight Oil, 2001
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1985
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001
…with hundreds more to come


3 thoughts on “Hangin’ with AC/DC while Brian Johnson and Malcolm Young talk Bon Scott

  1. So glad to rock out with ac☇dc thru the years they are all #1 to me Bon & Brian ! Hit 5 of there concerts. #6 coming Sept 20, 2016 Philly PA 😈so sorry with everything they are going through these days Malcom, as I work with dementia residents, as well Brian with his problems , it has been a honor to be part of ac☇dc and now my grandson Anthony 9 now rocks with us started at 6 months old he’s our little “Angus ” so proud! ! This is his 2nd concert with these guys! AC☇DC WILL NEVER DIE!! always and forever in our hearts ❤ you all have our continued support, would love to meet you 😈☇🎤🎸🎸 thank you all for the Best rock n roll Band!!!!

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