Brian Johnson AC/DC (Howard Stern Interview)

Howard came right back after break and had Brian Johnson come in. Howard said that they were just talking about him earlier and talking about how he got AC/DC to be even more popular than when Bon Scott was in the band. Howard asked if he’s in his 60s now. Brian said he’s 63 now.

Howard gave Brian a plug for his book ”Rockers and Rollers: A Full-Throttle Memoir” and talked to him about how he had trouble remembering a lot of things. Howard said he has the same problem. He said that cars spur Brian’s memory. He said he remembers girls based on the cars he was driving at the time.

Brian said that he would hear stories from his friends and he wouldn’t remember anything about it until they mentioned the car he was driving at the time.

Howard said Brian was in the band The Geordies when Bon Scott was in AC/DC. Brian was still living at home in his 30s and he ended up opening up his own auto shop where they customized cars. He said they were putting vinyl roofs and racing stripes on cars. He said he did that because he was so desperate for money.

Howard asked Brian if he was a disappointment to his parents. Brian said that his parents did tell him that his singing stuff wasn’t going to work. Howard said his dad must have been humiliated. Brian said it wasn’t that bad. He said he did start wearing a hat to hide who he really was. He said that the Geordies had some top 10 hits but they got ripped off by the record companies so they weren’t making money.

Brian said that he went out working on broken windshields and stuff like that and hid himself with the hat. He said that he had to do what he had to do to feed the kids. Howard asked if people still recognized him from being in the Geordies. Brian said they did. The hat didn’t work that good.

Howard asked who it was that suggested him for the band. Brian said it was a fan from Cleveland who called Mutt Lange. He said that he and Bon got along too. He said that Bon let him play in the band and he was all for him getting into the band. Brian said he talks about that in the book. He said he got a call from a woman who had a German accent. He said she was asking him to come in for an audition but she wouldn’t tell him who the band was. She eventually told him it was AC/DC and she said she had said too much when she did that.

Howard asked if he knows who the fan is that suggested him. Brian said he doesn’t know who it was. It worked out for him though. Brian said that he thought he was too old to be a rock star in AC/DC but he went and did the audition anyway. He said that the boys had a cult following and they were loved by everyone. Howard said they didn’t really blow up until ”Back in Black” though.

Brian said he was asked to sing on a commercial jingle and he was told it would be $350. He said he was going to do that and have the meeting with the band on the same day. Brian said he did the jingle the same day he got in on the AC/DC thing. Brian said he could have headed back to his parents house but he had AC/DC waiting for him.

Howard said he remembers that they weren’t that exciting back then but they weren’t the band they became yet. Howard said he can see Brian having trouble figuring out that deal. Brian said he went across the street and saw four guys sitting there waiting for him. He said they were waiting for him. He said that he drank with the guys and then started to sing with the band. Howard asked if the drinking affects his voice. Brian said he doesn’t care. He’s not worried about it. Howard said he can’t drink because he’s so neurotic about the voice.

Brian said he started to sign with the guys and they all got goose bumps. He said they were wondering what was happening there. Howard asked if they hired him on the spot or did they tell him to go home. Brian said he thanked them for the chance and he said he had to go home. He said the guys told him he can’t leave.

Howard asked if they had a contract drawn up saying who gets what percentage. Brian said they put him on a wage for 6 months and paid him a salary. He said that Bon Scott had been gone for about 3 months when they did this.

Howard asked how many bands can pull it off and replace the lead singer. He said it doesn’t happen often. Brian said that he thanks his lucky stars today.

Howard asked if he’s out of his parents basement now. Brian said he hasn’t made as much as Howard has but he’s out of the basement.

Howard asked Brian about how he learned to sing in church. Brian said that was rough. He said that he had the gold chain around his neck and all. Howard asked if they got him into the recording session immediately and if Bon Scott had written any of the songs they did. Brian said Bon didn’t write them. He said they went in and did the first album in 6 weeks. Howard said that’s amazing. Brian said it was the most magical time of his life. He said it was happening so quick he couldn’t grasp it. He said the first song he wrote was ”Shook Me All Night Long” and the first line he wrote was ”She was a fast machine…” and he gave it to Malcolm the next morning and that was it. He said he talks about all of that in the book. He said that was the first song he wrote with them. Brian said they heard the rough mix the next morning and he thought it was the best rock and roll song he had ever heard in his life. He said he was the new boy in the band but Malcolm said he could be right. Howard said it’s amazing that they came up with all of those songs in 6 weeks. He said they wrote and recorded them all in that time.

Howard asked Brian if the whole song is in his head when he comes up with the songs. Brian said that sometimes you just get a beat and then the lyrics come. Howard said he makes light of it but he doesn’t get how they come up with the whole thing. Brian said it’s like starting a crossword puzzle. He said once you get started you get it.

Howard said he has a theory about Brian. He said there is a certain magic to the fact that he was in another band and he had to work and put in endless hours working and singing in church. He said he put years of hard work into this and he was kind of accomplished by the time he got into the band. He asked if he watches American Idol to see the kids getting record deals. Brian said they get the finest musicians and everything around them is about beating the people around them. He said you wonder what they’re going to do in the next week. He said he won’t be able to afford the best musicians after that one song.

Howard said the kids on American Idol don’t learn how to write songs. They don’t get the kind of experience that Brian had. Brian said there are too many broken hearts and broken dreams out there because of that show. He said they think they’re destined for greatness and they’re just 17 years old. Howard said he sees people trying to do radio and they just don’t know how hard it’s going to be.

Howard said Brian was bored during the making of the last album so he wrote this book. Brian said that a good story is a lost art. He said that he was told to put some of these stories down so that’s why he did it. Howard said he does have some great stories too.

Brian said that they once lent some equipment to Chuck Berry and he asked for an autograph. He said that Chuck told him that he does one autograph a day and he had already done it. Brian said that the guy won’t pay the musicians and he won’t give you an autograph if you lead him your equipment.

Howard asked Brian if he wrote his own stories down or did he have someone help. Brian said that when you’re in the studio it takes a few days to record the songs. He said he had a legal pad so he would write this stuff down about his cars and then the stories would come back to him. He said that he was just writing them down on the paper. Then he’d send them to his friend after scanning them. He said his friend thought he could get them published so that’s what they did.

Howard said that Keith Richards went out and wrote that book about Mick Jagger. He said that’s just not cool. Brian said the guys in AC/DC are his pals and he would never do that to them. He said that they still travel and stay in the same dressing room together.

Howard asked Brian about how he’s been thinking of retiring. Brian said he’s still feeling good though. Howard told him to stop smoking. Brian said he doesn’t smoke that much. He said he has maybe 5 a day. Howard said he doesn’t know anyone who can smoke just 5 a day. He said they only get worse. Brian said he rolls his own. He showed Howard the tobacco he had. Howard asked if it affects his voice. Brian said of course it does, that’s why he keeps smoking. Howard said he worries about him.

Howard said there were a couple of things in the book he wanted to talk about. He said that in the 80s the groupie thing went away. The whole AIDS scare made that happen. Brian said that they used to see the groupies out there and they would have competitions with the girls. Howard asked if it’s embarrassing not to have a big dick when the guys are getting blow jobs. Brian said that his memories are very hazy about all of that. He said it all stopped when the AIDS scare happened.

Howard asked Brian about his height and if he thinks that helped him get into the band. Brian is 5’6” tall and he said that probably did help since he’s the tallest. Howard said they all are very short. He said he remembers working with them on his movie and how short they seemed to be.

Howard gave Brain some plugs for some book signings he’s doing with this new book. Howard said Brian once met Paul Newman and Paul thought that he was part of his race car team. Howard asked if he went along with it and worked on his car. Brian said he had met him a few times and they raced in the same races. He said they were invited up to Vancouver for a race and Paul asked if he should put wet or dry tires on the car. He said he told him that he didn’t work for him and that he was in AC/DC. He said Paul told him he had heard of him but he didn’t think he had.

Howard said that Brian doesn’t like the show ”Pimp My Ride” because he doesn’t get why they do that. Brian said not to that extent. He said they just go too far with the stereo systems and things like that. He said it’s all egotism. Brian said that these dingbats drive by with the bass going and he wishes he had a hand grenade when he hears that. Howard said he gets what he’s saying. He compared that to people jail breaking their iPhones and iPads.

Howard talked to Brian about how he has to get oxygen and re hydrate himself after shows. Brian said that he has to sit with an IV line of saline solution in his arm sometimes. Howard said they’re very physical during their shows. Brian said that you do have to keep the energy up. Howard said Brian and the guys still care and they want to do it for the fans. Brian said they don’t just do it for the money. They’re there for the fans. Howard said he thinks that’s why they’re so successful. He said the shows wouldn’t have the same impact if they played to a track or something.

Howard said that they come up with a set list and the fans will write to them and complain about the set list. Brian said they had a guy come up to them at a bar once and he told them that they must play what he said they should play. He had been to like 50 shows and they play the same thing. Brian said that they set up the stuff in a certain way and they can’t just change it up. They’re not doing club shows, they’re in stadiums.

Howard asked Brian if it’s weird for him to see Celine Dion doing a cover of ”You Shook Me All Night Long.” Brian didn’t seem to care. He said he hasn’t heard the song. Howard asked if it’s a compliment. Brian said he guesses it is if she’s willing to put it in a set list. He said ”Good on ya Celine.”

Howard said that he’s glad to see Brian doing his thing. He asked if he’s still drinking. Brian said he likes to have a glass of wine. Maybe 2 or 3 a night. Howard asked if he’s an alcoholic. Brian said he’s not. He said he doesn’t drink when he’s racing. He still races. He said he was at Road Atlanta recently and his steering wheel came off at 150 miles per hour. He said he braked 2 feet from the wall. He said his ass was going like a rabbit’s nose. Brian said he’s won some races. He said his wife races too. Howard wanted to talk about her but Brian didn’t want to get into the personal stuff.

Howard asked Brian to teach Celine Dion a lesson and sing that song from Titanic. Howard played some of Celine’s ”You Shook Me All Night Long.” Brian said it wasn’t bad. He said it was kind of silly though.

Howard gave Brian some more plugs for his book signings and found out he’s done one already. He said he signed 500 books at that one. Howard said he will be at the book Review in Huntington Long Island and at another place in Ridgewood, New Jersey this week.

Howard said he had some callers on the line but he was out of time. He said one of the questions was about what his favorite song was. Brian said it’s ”Low Rider” by War. He said that song has everything.

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