In 2016, AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson was forced to leave their Rock or Bust tour after suffering crippling hearing loss.
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the stalwart rocker has detailed how he managed to recover from the bout of deafness.
“It was pretty serious,” Johnson admitted. “I couldn’t hear the tone of the guitars at all. It was a horrible kind of deafness.”
“I was literally getting by on muscle memory and mouth shapes,” he explained. “I was starting to really feel bad about the performances in front of the boys, in front of the audience. It was crippling. There’s nothing worse than standing there and not being sure.”
The band attempted to soldier through the remaining shows of the tour. However, Brian Johnson’s doctors intervened, emphasising that continuing to tour could result in permanent deafness.
“Cliff and Angus didn’t want to be responsible for me damaging my ears any further. … Shit happens. At least it wasn’t terminal,” Johnson explained.
AC/DC were forced to postpone the rest of the tour — subsequently sending out a press release explaining that all remaining dates of the 2016 tour were to be postponed due to Johnson’s hearing loss. Later that year, the band sent out another presser revealing that Guns N’ Roses rocker Axl Rose would be taking the reigns as lead vocalist.
Johnson was determined not to give up fronting AC/DC, so he enlisted the help of a medical specialist and began experimental treatment in an attempt to restore his hearing.
“The first time he came down he brought this thing that looked like a car battery,” Johnson explained. “I went, ‘What in the hell is that?’ He said, ‘We’re going to miniaturize it.’ It took two and a half years. He came down once a month. We’d sit there and it was boring as shit with all these wires and computer screens and noises. But it was well worth it.”
Johnson hasn’t revealed much in the way of the technical elements of the treatment, revealing: “The only thing I can tell you is that it uses the bone structure in the skull as a receiver. That’s as much as I can tell you.”
AC/DC will release their seventeenth studio album PWR/UP on Friday, November 13th. The first single from the forthcoming record, ‘Shot In The Dark’ will be released later today.
— AC/DC (@acdc) October 5, 2020