Attention: this book is not what it seems.
The lives of Brian
(Countereditions) is signed by the longest-lived of the AC/DC vocalists, Brian Johnson.
Yes, here we talk about the circumstances of Brian's incorporation into the group and also about the (almost total) loss of hearing that forced him to withdraw for a long time.
But that, together with the chronicle of the recording of the first joint LP, the famous
Back in black
, occupies approximately a quarter of the book.
Don't see it as a tragedy: there is a copious bibliography on AC/DC.
offers a granular portrait of a rock proletarian learning and surviving in the 1960s and 1970s, in an unglamorous city: Newcastle.
True, Eric Burdon or Bryan Ferry came from there, but both left at the first opportunity.
Brian Johnson didn't want to do it.
Actually, he couldn't either: the first group with which he found success in the
, Geordie, was little more than a meteorite, mistreated and fleeced by his record company, Red Bus, dependent on EMI.
Brian was subjected to a scam similar to that suffered by many black artists in the United States: Red Bus found him a house—he had a wife and two daughters—but when Geordie stopped selling, the company stopped paying the mortgage, without warning;
overnight, the singer was faced with the possibility of eviction.
Johnson gives the kind of
working class hero
(really, not like Lennon, who came from a pretentious middle class).
Newcastle had an economy based on shipyards and coal mines, although both sectors were showing signs of decline.
There was work, not very well paid;
To supplement his income, Brian joined the Home Guard, a kind of part-time Army, doing the paratrooper course exclusively for the bonus.
He certainly didn't flaunt counterculture stripes.
In the mid-1970s, while he was at work installing windscreens and beautifying cars, he rebuilt Geordie, taking advantage of the abundance of venues in the north of England:
working men's clubs
were a legacy of old union power, places where workers drank cheaply, watched performances of all kinds and—sacrosanct interlude—played bingo.
There, pounding out old hits and current hits, Brian Johnson made a name for himself with his high-pitched voice and stage tricks (climbing on the guitarist, ring a bell?).
Enough for them to offer him to try out with renowned groups that urgently required a vocalist: Rainbow, Manfred Mann Earth Band, Uriah Heep...
Cover of the book 'The lives of Brian', from Contra publishing house.
It did not sting: there was always a "but".
Until they called from AC / DC, that he needed to cover the loss of the unfortunate Bon Scott.
And he fit like a glove.
Initially, because of his audacity: he asked that the first song they try was
Nutbush City limits
hit that worked very well in
working men's clubs
… and that the Australians had never played;
Given his usual laconism, they didn't even protest.
They signed him when they found that he also wrote letters quickly.
And he verified that AC/DC's egalitarianism was not a posturing: he entered as a full member, charging the same percentage as the founders;
solved the brown of the mortgaged house.
Weeks later, when they traveled to Compass Point studios in the Bahamas, he discovered that he, too, was entitled to allowances.
It was there, at a party in Compass Point, that he first tried a joint.
He was 32 years old and "completely ignorant of the dangers of excessive drinking or taking any kind of drugs."
“Partly because in my world nobody had money for drugs and we all got up early almost every day to go to work, so getting drunk until you passed out was not a very sensible option.
I had never smoked a joint in my life, and as for hard drugs, they had not been offered to me nor did I know anyone who took them.”
It was one of those trumpeter joints, Jamaican style, and Brian was knocked out right away, KO'd on the studio floor.
Don't see it as a joke: what impresses me is that a superstar would recognize something like that now.
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