Editor's note: Hard-rocking Aussie quintet AC/DC announced yesterday that due to medical reasons, it has been forced to cancel and reschedule ten upcoming dates on the U.S. leg of its "Rock or Bust" World Tour, including this Friday's concert scheduled at BB&T Center in Sunrise.
According to the band's official statement: "AC/DC's lead singer, Brian Johnson, has been advised by doctors to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss."
Other upcoming dates impacted by Johnson's medical emergency include stops in North Carolina, D.C., Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, through April 4. Current ticket holders are advised to keep their tickets for the rescheduled dates or request a refund at point of purchase.
In the hopes that Johnson makes a speedy recovery and return to the arenas, here's our look back at how the singer stepped into his role after tragedy struck the driving power rock band in 1980:
The singer is often thought to be the one irreplaceable member of a band, its mouthpiece and center of the audience's attention — the one fans identify with. So how was it that Bon Scott's death not only didn't destroy AC/DC but led to its being one of the biggest rock bands in history?
When Scott died in 1980 from alcohol poisoning — or, as the British death certificate reads, "death by misadventure" — the Australian quintet was known to rock as hard and heavily as any band in the world. Much of that power was driven by the dueling guitars of brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, but the screams and wails of Bon Scott were what made fans pump their fists and tear up their vocal cords even attempting to imitate it on songs like "Highway to Hell" and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap." Now those tracks are considered anthems and staples of any classic-rock radio station, but at the time of Scott's death, AC/DC had only just begun to enter the public's consciousness. Its fifth album, Highway to Hell, was its first to crack the top 100 on the charts, just a few months before Scott took his own roadway to the afterlife.
But the surviving band members didn't spend much time in mourning. They auditioned replacements almost immediately, without looking to reinvent a burgeoning enterprise. Brian Johnson, then singer in a group called Geordie, got the job after blowing the band away with his rendition of "Whole Lotta Rosie."
Two months after Scott's death, AC/DC went into the studio to record an album that had largely been written while Scott was still alive. It was called Back in Black, and it went on to become the second-highest-selling album in history. Though the band members kept moving without him, it would seem Scott never fully left their minds. The song "Back in Black" was written as a tribute to and a celebration of Scott's life, while its lyrics "Forget the hearse, 'cause I never die/I got nine lives" and "Yes, I'm back in black" are a proclamation of the band's tenacity. By emulating the voice that Scott first gave AC/DC, Johnson was able to help seal AC/DC as the first name that comes to mind when you talk about hard rock.
Could the band have achieved such posterity with Scott? Defenders of the original singer's legacy might say he had the bad timing of dying just before MTV hit the airwaves. AC/DC's schoolboy outfits gave it a distinctive trademark look that helped it stand out as much as its thundering music did. There's no reason to think Scott would have slowed that fandom. Still, Johnson offered a maniacal energy and charismatic presence that the camera and concert audiences loved, which Scott perhaps might not have had the endurance to maintain.
Johnson has been at the helm for so much of AC/DC's tenure that you could easily forget which songs he did not originally sing. At a recent concert date in Texas, nearly half of the 20 songs the band played were from before his time. If you were to randomly shuffle the AC/DC catalog from throughout its 40-year history, close attention would reveal the obvious differences between Scott's and Johnson's voices. If you don't think about it, though, you'd be forgiven for believing it was the same singer whose voice changed slightly over the decades. On the most recent record, 2014's Rock or Bust, the foundation Scott laid all those years ago still endures. If you catch the group's sold-out show Friday at the BB&T Center, relish Johnson's still-massive and unmistakable vocals, but be sure to remember Scott's voice, which started it all.
CANCELLED (to be rescheduled) - 8 p.m. Friday, March 11, at BB&T Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise. Sold out on ticketmaster.com.
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