Brian Johnson

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Dunston, County Durham
Birth Sign

English singer-songwriter Brian Francis Johnson is best known for his more than three-decade stint as lead vocalist for the Australian hard rock/blues rock band AC/DC. As a young child, he was exposed to music and participated in numerous performances with the Scouts while also continuing to sing in the local church choir. In his teens, he began to take an interest in rock and roll. Before helping to start the British glam rock band “Geordie,” he played in a number of bands. The band that produced numerous successful singles broke up in 1978 only to reform in 1980. Meanwhile, AC/DC began looking for a qualified replacement after lead vocalist Bon Scott’s final passing. The other AC/DC members, who had previously heard favorable things about Johnson from Scott after the latter had seen Johnson perform for Geordie, ultimately focused in on Johnson whose strong yet grave voice complemented the band’s high voltage hard-hitting rock style well. When the band released hit albums like “Back in Black,” “For Those About to Rock,” and “The Razor’s Edge,” Johnson’s time with the group turned out to be one of its most prosperous times. This increased the band’s level of fame around the world.

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Early Childhood & Life

He was the oldest of Alan and Esther’s four children and was born on October 5, 1947, in Dunston, Gateshead, County Durham, England. * His father was a coal miner and a sergeant major in the Durham Light Infantry of the British Army. In 1996, Johnson lost his father while performing with AC/DC on their Ballbreaker World Tour. His mother came from Italy’s Frascati.

In his earlier years, he participated in various shows with the Scouts. He also sang in the choir of a nearby church and appeared in a play that was shown on television.

Brian Johnson’s Career

Johnson began his career by playing with the Fresh Band and the Gobi Desert Canoe Club band. He began playing with “The Jasper Hart Band,” a cabaret/club band, in 1970. Later, he worked with other band members to create the British glam rock group “Geordie” in 1972.

Don’t Do That, the debut single by Geordie debuted in the UK Top 40 in December 1972. The UK Top 10 song “All Because of You” (April 1973) and UK Top 20 single “Can You Do It” helped the band expand their notoriety (July 1973). Johnson released his lone solo song, “I Can’t Forget You Now,” in January 1976 while he was a member of the band “Geordie.”

He quit “Geordie” after the band’s 1976 album “Save the World” was released. ‘Geordie’ split up in 1978. Johnson finally resurrected it in 1980 with a fresh lineup that included only him as a founding member. The group, sometimes known as “Geordie II,” obtained a recording contract at the beginning of 1980.

However, Johnson got a call in March 1980 asking if he would be interested in going to an audition for the lead vocalist role with AC/DC, which had become open after singer Bon Scott passed away in February of that same year.

Scott actually complimented Johnson’s performance to his bandmates after seeing him perform for Geordie. After weighing a number of possibilities, Johnson was selected as the group’s main vocalist, ushering in a prosperous new era for AC/DC. The band formally announced its membership on April 1st, 1980.

He was dispatched to the Bahamas, where he collaborated in the Compass Point Studios with Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams, and Phil Rudd to create the band’s debut album, “Back in Black.” An estimated 50 million copies of the album, which was released on July 25, 1980, were sold globally, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Following the popularity of its predecessor, For Those About to Rock We Salute You, the third AC/DC album with Johnson as the lead vocalist, was released on November 23, 1981. It became the band’s first album to reach No. 1 on the US Billboard chart and retain that position for three weeks. Johnson first released a solo album in 1982 called “Strange Man,” which had a collection of ten of Geordie’s songs from the years 1973 to 1976.

He helped AC/DC produce numerous other hit albums during the next years, including “Flick of the Switch” (1983), “Fly on the Wall” (1985), “Who Made Who” (1986), and “Blow Up Your Video” as lead vocalist (1988). In 1989, Johnson’s lyrics were featured on the band’s final album, which received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental.

Johnson supplied lead vocals to one of AC/DC’s renowned albums, “The Razors Edge,” which came out on September 21, 1990. The album that gave rise to popular singles including “Are You Ready,” “Thunderstruck,” and “Moneytalks” was certified 5 times platinum in the US, peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart, spent 77 weeks there, and also rose to #4 on the UK charts.

Later, he contributed to more AC/DC albums like “Live” (1992), “Ballbreaker” (1995), and “Stiff Upper Lip” (2000).
He released his book, Rockers and Rollers, in 2000.

Since April 2003, Johnson has been collaborating on a musical adaptation of Helen of Troy with choreographer Robert de Warren of the Sarasota Ballet. Johnson joined the other AC/DC members in being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

The band’s 15th studio album, “Black Ice,” which was released globally on October 17, 2008, quickly rose to prominence and helped lead singer Brian Johnson’s career to new heights. By October 28 of that year, it had secured the top spot on the US Billboard 200 albums list and had debuted at the top of album charts in 29 other nations. It overtook Coldplay’s Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends to become the second best-selling album globally in 2008 after its release.

Although ‘Black Ice’ got a number of Grammy nominations, the song ‘War Machine’ was the recipient of the award for Best Hard Rock Performance. After the fifth leg of the Rock or Bust World Tour, which was AC/11th DC’s with Johnson and supported the band’s 16th studio album, “Rock or Bust (2014),” Johnson left the group because of hearing issues. The band revealed his departure in April of that year.

Johnson also collaborated with comedian Jim Breuer to record the song “Mr. Rock’n’Roll,” wrote the lyrics for the track “Kill the Sunshine” on the band Jackyl’s 2002 album “Relentless,” appeared in the reality TV series “The Race” about auto racing in 2006 and “Top Gear” in 2009, and appeared in the documentary series “Cars That Rock with Brian Johnson” in May 2014. A vintage race car enthusiast, who enjoys competing in events with his Pilbeam MP84 and Royale RP-4 vehicles.

Brian’s Individual Life

Joanne was born in 1968, and Kala was born in 1973. He married Carol in 1968, and they had two daughters together. His first union was annulled. He currently resides in Sarasota, Florida, with his wife Brenda.

On July 9, 2014, Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne awarded him an honorary doctorate in music.
Since October 2014, he has supported the Yorkshire Dementia Charity in Topcliffe.

Estimated Net Worth

The lead singer of the Australian rock band AC/DC, Brian Johnson is an English singer and lyricist with a net worth of $90 million.