Brian Johnson made Malcolm Young call him twice to offer him the AC/DC job

Publish Date
Tuesday, 20 October 2020, 11:06AM

Brian Johnson and Angus Young have talked plenty over the years about the process that went into remaking AC/DC's lineup following the death of Bon Scott and recording their iconic Back in Black album.

But even after more than 40 years together, the rock icons shared new recollections of their early partnership on Dean Delray's Let There Be Talk podcast, the band's first ever podcast appearance.

Johnson recalled that he was nearly an hour late for his AC/DC audition because he was playing billiards in the studio lounge with a group of guys he mistakenly thought were in the band. It wasn't until AC/DC's tour manager came looking for him that he realized he had kept Angus and Malcolm Young waiting.

The two AC/DC co-founders were busy writing songs between auditions and Angus doesn't recall being put off by Johnson's tardiness.

"The funny thing is, when he walked through the door, Brian stood out, just the way he walked," Angus said, before turning to Johnson. "And you sat up and you paid attention."

The trio rehearsed a few songs, including "Whole Lotta Rosie" and "Highway to Hell." Angus and Malcolm liked Brian and his voice. They shared a few drinks and made a plan to have Brian come back in about a week to play with the whole band and record the session.

Angus continued, noting that around this same time he and Malcolm had started working on the song "Back in Black." Angus came up with a vocal melody during one session and it made him think of Johnson.

"I said, 'You know, Mal. Brian, he could hit those notes,'" Angus recalled "...Because you could hear it in his register in what we had done, and he's got that edge on his voice."

Producer Mutt Lange agreed with the assertion and Malcolm called up Brian later to offer him the job.

"That's great because I haven't, obviously, heard that side of the story!" Johnson said.

He continued, noting that he remembers well getting the call from Malcolm because it was his father's birthday.

"I had bought me dad a bottle of whiskey and I went to my mom and dad's and there wasn't anybody was about 2 in the afternoon — 2:30 — I said, 'Ah, well, I'll just leave [the bottle] here,' and then the phone rang 'cause Malcolm had me mom and dad's number.

"That was the phone call. I said, 'Mal ... hang on, are you sure this is not a hoax?' [Laughs] He says, 'No!' I said, 'Well, could you ring us back in 10 minutes, just to make sure that I'm not dreaming this.' And he did, God bless him!"

Malcolm called back and let Johnson in on the band's plan to record its next album in the Bahamas.

Still in shock and with no one to tell, Johnson opened his father's birthday gift and treated him to a glass of whisky to celebrate.

"It was strange, you know," he said.

Listen to the full Let There Be Talk interview via the player above or here on iHeartRadio!

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission