Enlarge Photo via AC/DC's Twitter

Angus Young Says AC/DC Never Had Plans to Make an Album With Axl Rose

  • Axl Rosenberg

We’re barely more than a week away from the release of PWR/UP, AC/DC’s new — and very possibly final — album. Fortunately for fans, that record will contain a version of AC/DC as close to the band’s Back in Black line-up as is scientifically possible: Angus Young (lead guitar), Brian Johnson (vocals), Cliff Williams (bass), and Phil Rudd (drums). Stevie Young takes over rhythm guitar duties from the late Malcolm Young, whose final riffs appear on the record (although Malcolm himself does not).

But for a minute there, people thought the album that would become PWR/UP wouldn’t include Brian Johnson… but, rather, Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose.

Rose, you hopefully recall, took over touring duties for Johnson in 2016, after Johnson was forced to step away from the band as a result of hearing loss. So, naturally, a couple of years later, rumors began to swirl that there were plans for an Axl/DC album.

In a new interview with Total Guitar, however, Angus Young says the rumors were only ever that — rumors:

“[Making an album with Axl] never really came up. Axl was really very generous, and he helped us out to get through our touring side at a difficult spot. He had contacted us and said he could help if it didn’t interfere with his own commitments of what he was going. He wanted to come in and try songs that he himself liked, and he was suggesting songs I hadn’t played in a long time. I’m definitely grateful that he volunteered, and that had helped us finish off our commitment. But he has his own life.”

Not to cast dispersions on Young, but I think it’s entirely possible he’s fibbing here. I suspect there was a point when Johnson’s hearing issues meant they didn’t know if he’d ever be able to sing again, at which time they have very well began to discuss making an album with Rose. Denying as much helps everyone save face — Johnson doesn’t come off looking replaceable, and Rose doesn’t come off looking like anyone’s second choice.

Which is not to suggest anyone should be bummed that Rose isn’t on PWR/UP. Remember that Cliff Williams had announced that he was retiring following the Rock or Bust tour dates with Rose, Phil Rudd was stuck in Australia because of legal issues, and Malcolm Young, of course, passed away. There’s a world in which the Axl/DC album would have had Angus Young playing lead guitar in what was ostensibly an AC/DC cover band. Who wants that?

PWR/UP comes out Friday, November 13. Listen to the single, “Shot in the Dark,” here, and pre-order the album here.


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