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BOOK REVIEW: THE LIVES OF BRIAN by Brian Johnson

| 18 April 2023 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: THE LIVES OF BRIAN by Brian Johnson
Penguin Random House Australia
October 2022 – $35.00
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
88%

As AC/DC’s other great frontman, Brian Johnson has thrilled audiences around the world since 1980, but his 2009 first autobiography Rockers And Rollers was a strangely incomplete affair.

Billed as “an automotive autobiography” it was more about cars and his relation to them than it was about singing out front of one of the most successful bands of all time. Fair enough – I mean, once his former band Geordie wound down he was running his own business fitting car windscreens and then fitting custom vinyl roofs when he got the call to venture to London to audition for a mystery band. The rest, as they say, is history.

In another way it’s unsurprising that Rockers And Rollers didn’t spill any beans on AC/DC. Malcolm Young was notoriously private and frowned upon any such extra-curricular activity at all, let alone glorification of or – the cardinal sin – exposes of the band’s inner workings.

Now that he has sadly left us, though, Angus Young presumably has no such qualms, or claims on Johnson’s loyalty.

Mal needn’t have worried, though. Johnson – Uncle Brian, almost, so warm and endearing is his tone – is nothing but respectful and positive of his bandmates and the AC/DC juggernaut, even when talking about the hearing loss which forced him out of the band in 2015.

The Lives Of Brian focusses more on his earlier life – his soldier Dad and Italian Mum; his childhood; the bands Geordie and Geordie II; the aforementioned jobs working on cars in England’s northeast – before he gets to joining AC/DC and recording the seminal Back In Black album. He specifically addresses the persistent conspiracy theories that lyrics for the album were cribbed from Bon Scott’s old notebooks after he died.

“But no – it was me at the end of the pen, writing every night and every morning, with only the title to work with. That’s what happened. That’s the truth and I really hope that settles it.”

From his first tours with the band supporting Back In Black, the book jumps to that terrible hearing loss, and how he finally found a doctor who could get him hearing properly again. The intervening years – thirty-four of them – would undoubtedly make another interesting book, so perhaps that’s in the works already?

 

Category: Book Reviews

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