The first major concert I ever saw was AC/DC at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio in 2008. I had previously been in attendance at some other smaller musical presentations from the likes of bands like Survivor with one big hit and a couple other songs you hear occasionally on the radio, but never anything of the caliber of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band that defied arena rock and overpowered it with a consistency unmatched by any other musical act across any genre. Now, however, the times they are a finally changin’ for the legendary Australian rockers named after the electrical current capabilities of Angus and Malcolm Young’s sister Margaret’s sewing machine. Rumor has it that they are ousting lead singer Brian Johnson in favor of Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose, and their fans have mixed feelings on the alleged decision.
Okay, when I say “mixed feelings” I mean that the people who are talking are screaming about the irreparable harm this will do to one of the greatest bands still performing. I am clearly a fan of AC/DC, and I like some of the Guns N’ Roses’ stuff, such as “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Sweet Child of Mine”, and the end of “November Rain”, but I have never been a fan of Axl Rose. Even many GNR fans dislike Rose, especially lately. He has a look and personality like Kid Rock and tends to stir up the same level of anger and general frustration from hard rock fans. The primary difference between the two is that Rose had a better surrounding cast, especially guitarist Slash. That all being said, as an AC/DC fan who does not particularly like Axl Rose, he’s a great choice to serve as lead singer for them and I could not care less about how he pans out with them. Allow me to explain why.
First, AC/DC are still performing and will continue to perform their current tour and beyond with Rose taking over for the hearing loss-afflicted Johnson. Losing a member of a band, especially one so integral as lead singer, can be devastating to a group, a fact AC/DC know full well after their lead singer Bon Scott died in 1980. Johnson was brought in to take on the torch for him and continued to do so until the present day. While it has not been officially announced that Johnson will leave the band in any capacity, it is certain that a guest vocalist will finish the American stops on the current tour, and the sentiment of the other band members indicate his time with AC/DC is probably ending in 2016. Axl Rose is a big enough name to fill the shoes of Johnson, and more importantly, the seats of the venues AC/DC play at. Whether it gains notice from interested fans curious to see a new direction from the band, or others aiming to catch a trainwreck, Rose’s presence will bring people in.
It’s really quite funny to hear so many complaints from hard rock fans who feel that this change is going to ruin a band that has made a career of doing the same thing album after album, decade after decade. Such people should remember how lucky we all were that Angus and Malcolm Young found Brian Johnson after Bon Scott died. AC/DC could have easily ended in the wake of his death. Led Zeppelin closed shop after John Bonham died. They could have had any drummer they wanted to replace him, but felt their work deteriorating with their age and called it to close out as best they could. Queen did not quit after Freddie Mercury died, but they fell out of the notice of all but their diehard fans and many assumed the band died with Freddie.
Another reason Rose is a good call is because he has the widest vocal range of any singer of modern times. No, seriously, he does. Check out this cool graph put together by analysis done by ConcertHotels.com. From F1 to B flat 6, some can go lower and some can go higher, but nobody stretches as far as Axl. You’ll notice that neither Bon Scott nor Brian Johnson were even on the list and they fared just fine with AC/DC’s gruff vocals. Imagine what Rose can bring to the table even in his older, more battle worn form.
Ultimately though, Rose does not have many more years left of touring in him before age or some ailment catches up to him like it has to Johnson at least for the time being. The same is true for the rest of AC/DC. They were no spry puppies when I saw them, and that was eight years ago. They have had as many members leave the band over the years as they have currently in the lineup, most recently co-founding Young brother Malcolm, who retired in April 2014 to be treated for dementia. About a year later, drummer Phil Rudd left the band for less honorable reasons.
My point is, AC/DC is an aging band. One that will always be popular even in retirement whenever it comes, but as an actively touring group they do not have the wealth of time and talent they once did with which to churn out new albums. All the more reason to get busy while the gettin’s good. Neither AC/DC nor Axl will be rocking and rolling along for too much longer (unless they tap into whatever devil magic The Rolling Stones have), so it just makes sense for them to team up and begin to gallop into the sunset together for the remaining miles. They are all on their way to the promised land.
Thanks for reading! No matter where you fall on this changing of the guard, and with whatever actually happens, ideally it will bring enjoyment to someone, but that may be asking for a lot. Regardless, keep on returning here each week for more material that will hopefully only get better and better. As always, do the questions and comments things down below or fire ’em over to firstname.lastname@example.org.