The recent announcement from AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson that the band had finished recording their first new album since 2008’s Fire and Ice brought a hearty roar from their millions of long-suffering fans. But the silver lining was accompanied by a somber cloud as Johnson revealed that the health issues that forced Malcolm Young to miss working on the new record were serious enough to require his hospitalization.
AC/DC announced in April that the guitarist and founding member was taking a “health-related hiatus” from the band. The rockers didn’t have far to look for his (hopefully) temporary replacement as nephew Stevie Young has filled in capably. But even after the April 16 announcement which said in part that the band “will continue to make music,” rumors have continued to swirl that the group might disband. And with the recent news of the seriousness of Young’s condition, a new round of speculation is sure to begin.
Johnson’s recent comments to TeamRock Radio in regards to his fallen comrade’s regrettable state will only add fuel to the fire, admitting that the songs were “difficult” to record without their long-time rhythm guitarist. “We miss Malcolm, obviously,” Johnson solemnly confessed. “He’s a fighter. He’s in (the) hospital, but he’s a fighter. We’ve got our fingers crossed that he’ll get strong again.”
“Stevie, Malcolm’s nephew, was magnificent, but when you’re recording with this thing hanging over you and your work mate isn’t well, it’s difficult...But I’m sure he was rooting for us. He’s such a strong man. He’s a small guy, but he’s very strong. He’s proud, and he’s very private, so we can’t say too much. But fingers crossed he’ll be back.”
Young’s absence is an unfortunate bit of déjà vu for Johnson. The gravel-voiced singer stepped in as AC/DC’s vocalist after the group’s lead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott died after a night of heavy drinking, only months after recording their 1979 classic Highway to Hell.
Notwithstanding Scott’s lamentable passing, the high-voltage rockers have continued to sell-out concert tours and have sold over 200 million albums globally. AC/DC has sold nearly 71 million albums in the U.S. alone, making them one of the five top-selling bands in American music history. Their Double Diamond certified music shaper Back In Black, is the U.S.’ fifth largest-selling album ever.
The smart money is on the band weathering the latest storm and continuing their explosive march towards the 300 million-sold mark when the new record is released in late 2014 or early 2015. The album’s title is still a work in progress although Johnson did offer an earnest suggestion. “I wanted to call the album Man Down,” he offered. “But it’s a bit negative, and it was probably just straight from the heart. I like that.”
We like it as well Mr. Johnson. Get better Malcolm.