Malcolm Young Reveals Why Brian Johnson Stopped Writing for AC/DC

Joining AC/DC in 1980 was a monumental task for Brian Johnson, who had to fill the shoes of the legendary Bon Scott. His initiation into the band was not just about adapting to its sound but also contributing to the writing process for their upcoming album.

The Making of ‘Back in Black’

“Back in Black,” produced in a whirlwind few weeks, was Johnson’s first major test as AC/DC’s new frontman. He faced the daunting task of writing lyrics for the entire album, a challenge compounded by the pressure of succeeding Bon Scott and maintaining the band’s iconic status.

Singer Brian Johnson (left) and guitarist Angus Young performing with AC/DC on tour in the UK, 1981.

Transitioning Away from Writing

Despite the success of “Back in Black,” by the end of the 1980s, Johnson ceased writing lyrics for AC/DC. This marked a significant shift in the band’s creative process. His last contributions were during a tumultuous personal time, including a divorce, which inevitably affected his role within the band.

Malcolm Young’s Insight: A Change in Creative Dynamics

Malcolm Young, the band’s rhythm guitarist and co-founder, shed light on this transition. He explained that during Johnson’s personal struggles, the band adapted by covering the lyrical responsibilities. This change led to a new collaborative dynamic within AC/DC, with Malcolm and his brother Angus taking on more of the songwriting duties.

AC/DC brothers, Malcom and Angus Young posed behind a mixing desk. 1987

“Behind The Hits”: Uncovering the Story

To fully understand this shift in AC/DC’s songwriting and the impact of Brian Johnson’s departure from this role, “Behind The Hits” offers in-depth insights. Malcolm Young’s commentary, featured in the podcast, provides a unique perspective on the band’s adaptive strategies and the evolution of their creative process.

Brian Johnson perfoming with AC/DC at Cal Expo amphitheater in Sacramento, California on July 30, 1982

Behind the Hits: A Must-Listen AC/DC Special

This December marks the 50th anniversary of AC/DC’s first gig, and “Behind the Hits” celebrates this milestone with a 3-part series delving deep into the different eras of AC/DC’s remarkable career.

Episode 1 – AC/DC: The Bon Scott Era: This episode offers an exclusive look into the rockstar life of Bon Scott, one of Australia’s greatest frontmen. It features insights from AC/DC band members including Bon Scott himself, Angus and Malcolm Young, and Mark Evans.

Episode 2 – AC/DC: The Brian Johnson Era: Transitioning from the Bon Scott era, this episode explores the band’s evolution with Brian Johnson as the lead vocalist, marking a new chapter in their storied history.

Episode 3 – AC/DC: Beyond a Band of Brothers: The final episode delves into the band’s deep connections, exploring the dynamics that made them more than just a group of musicians.

Hear firsthand accounts from the band members and key industry figures like Iva Davies, Molly Meldrum, Michael Chugg, Michael Browning, Mark Opitz, and Fifa Riccobono. This series offers an unparalleled glimpse into the behind-the-scenes moments and pivotal events in the band’s journey.

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