Brian Johnson Reveals His Pick For The Best Rock Song Ever
via The Howard Stern Show / Youtube
AC/DC is one of the very few bands that best exemplifies traditional hard rock. Dave Evans was at the forefront of the Australian band’s 1973 formation. Evans had been replaced by Bon Scott by 1974, and Scott’s audacious, contagious vocals carried the band through its 1975 debut, High Voltage, to the critically praised Highway to Hell, released in 1979.
Continuing Without Scott
Unfortunately, Highway to Hell would be Scott’s last album with AC/DC as he tragically passed away from alcohol poisoning in February 1980. It’s often challenging for bands to continue after losing integral members, as we’ve seen with other bands like T. Rex, Nirvana, and Led Zeppelin. The absence of key members can lead to a decline in fan support, creativity, and morale.
However, AC/DC made the decision to carry on without Scott in the spring of 1980. They brought in Brian Johnson as his replacement, a choice that Scott himself had approved. Angus Young, guitarist, recalled in an interview:
“I remember the first time I had ever heard Brian’s name was from Bon. He had mentioned that he had been in England once touring with a band, and he had mentioned that Brian had been in a band called Geordie and Bon had said ‘Brian Johnson, he was a great rock and roll singer in the style of Little Richard.’ And that was Bon’s big idol, Little Richard.”
“I think when he saw Brian at that time, to Bon, it was, ‘Well, he’s a guy that knows what rock and roll is all about.’ He mentioned that to us in Australia. I suppose when we decided to continue, Brian was the first name that Malcolm and myself came up with, so we said we should see if we can find him.”
AC/DC’s Rise with Brian Johnson
With Johnson on board, AC/DC defied the odds and maintained the momentum they had gained from Highway to Hell when they recorded their next album, Back in Black, in 1980. Johnson was able to capture Scott’s captivating stage presence and helped propel the band to even greater heights of success in the early 1980s.
While Back in Black is most famous for its title track, Johnson has often mentioned that his personal favorite AC/DC song is “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Interestingly, it was the first song he recorded with the band. Johnson recalled in an interview with Absolute Radio:
“The boys had a title.
“Malcolm and Angus [Young] said, ‘Listen, we’ve got this song. It’s called ‘Shook Me All Night Long.’ That’s what we want the song to be called.’ And if you listen to the chords, [the chorus] just fell into place, so I can’t claim any credit on that thing.”
“It was as quick as it had to be, which was that night. I guess I had to try and impress somebody.
“It was just a thing that came at the time, and I still think it’s one of the greatest rock and roll riffs I’ve ever heard in my life.”
In another conversation, Johnson reaffirmed his love for “You Shook Me All Night Long,” stating that it holds a special place in his heart and is among the greatest rock songs ever written. He finds it irresistible to perform on stage and takes pride in being part of its creation.