The statement issued by from the AC/DC camp is as follows: "AC/DC band members would like to thank Brian Johnson for his contributions and dedication to the band throughout the years. We wish him all the best with his hearing issues and future ventures. As much as we want this tour to end as it started, we understand, respect and support Brian's decision to stop touring and save his hearing. We are dedicated to fulfilling the remainder of our touring commitments to everyone that has supported us over the years, and are fortunate that Axl Rose has kindly offered his support to help us fulfill this commitment."
Last month the band announced they were forced to postpone ten dates of their “Rock Or Bust” tour when Johnson was advised by doctors to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss. At the time it was hinted that the band will make up the shows in the future with a guest vocalist, yet no names were mentioned.
Within a week rumors speculated that Johnson’s diagnosis was overblown and this was just an excuse to replace him. Longtime friend comedian Jim Breuer said in an interview that Johnson was extremely depressed and feared that the band’s plans to make up the shows with a replacement singer could lead to his permanent exit from the band. The comedian added that Johnson did not hear from the band after initial contact of telling them of his condition, and did not attempt to do any follow-up. Even though Johnson sought advice of second doctor who said his hearing loss was not as bad as he was told, the band was already moving forward. Breuer later recanted his statement in a Facebook video claiming he may have exaggerated some of these points, yet judging from the tone of AC/DC’s aforementioned statement, it seems as if Johnson is out of a gig.
Johnson says his hearing loss has nothing to do with music. During an appearance on "The Howard Stern Show" in November of 2014, the frontman stated it was from car racing. He revealed that he got it from sitting in a race car too long without earplugs and his eardrum burst. Since then he has not been able to hear well in his left ear, likening it to tinnitus.
This is not the first time AC/DC has been quick to replace a band member in crisis. Last year the band brought in drummer Chris Slade when Phil Rudd was having legal problems in New Zealand. They were also forced to replace guitarist/founding member Malcolm Young in 2014 as he is suffering from dementia. Angus and Malcolm’s nephew, Stevie Young, joined the band and appears on their latest album, “Rock Or Bust”.
At the time of this writing, there is no word on when the postponed shows, which include a night at Madison Square Garden, will be rescheduled.