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September 22, 2018
Brian Johnson is a Florida Icon

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Florida Trend's Icon Series

Brian Johnson is a Florida Icon

Lead singer, AC/DC, Sarasota; age 65

Art Levy | 1/9/2013

» The Beatles had just come out, and everybody wanted to be in a band, even people who couldn’t play. My friends, they were starting a band. The bass player had a bass guitar. His brother had a guitar. Another had a beautiful set of Gretsch drums, orange spotted. And they said, ‘What are you going to do?’ I was 15 and I sang in the church choir, but that wasn’t singing. That was chanting. I asked them, ‘Can I sing?’ and they said, ‘I don’t know. Can you?’

» One thing I get angry at is when people tell me that I’m lucky, that the band is lucky. The harder we worked, the luckier we got.

» I went to Fort Myers first and bought a place on the beach. It was to get away from the tax in England, as well. I wanted to live outside of England. The tax was just crippling, just ridiculous. Way above 50%.

» The first band, me and the boys came up with this name, the Gobi Desert Canoe Club. We thought we were dead funny, really catchy and fabulous. We thought we were dead cool, apart from the fact that our van never started and we didn’t have any gigs.

» I have a music room at Sarasota Memorial Hospital called the Brian Johnson Music Therapy Room. It’s for sick children, terminal children. It’s to get them away from the shiny things, the scrubs, the rubber gloves and the needles. There’s guitars, keyboards, drums. Music is good for you.

» The AC/DC boys, we never really got into the drug scene, you know. We were pretty piss-poor at it. The next day, that’s the problem. It’s not good for the voice. It hurts the music. It happened once at a gig. We weren’t right, and I said, ‘never again.’

» Florida feels like home. When I go back to England, I feel like I’m visiting.

» I’m not a great one for pride, but I’m so happy I’ve had a grandson so late in life. He’s 2½. What a great tyke. He’s the apple of his granddad’s eye.

» I refuse to watch this ‘X Factor’ and ‘The Voice.’ It’s cruel. Unfair. They get a person up on stage. They build him up or make a fool of him. Then in two weeks’ time if they don’t win, they’re in a Holiday Inn lounge somewhere.

» My hero is George Washington. He was the guy. He was a true man of the people, even though he wasn’t. They offered him the monarchy of America and he went, ‘You idiots. We just spent … years trying to kick one out and you want to make me king?’

» I can’t describe how much it means to be standing on stage and see a man of 73 and next to him is his son and next to his son is his grandson. Three generations and they’re all rocking. We must be doing something right.

» I hate Facebook. I hate Twitter. What happened to privacy? I found out there are 11 Brian Johnsons on Facebook who claim they’re me. Bollocks to it.

» I love getting great people together for dinner parties. I think it’s just one of the most wonderful things you can do, to listen to wonderful conversation.

» The choir director made me head choirboy, which meant I wore a gold thing and got three shillings and six pence a week. Big money. I was 13. Unfortunately, the ex-head choirboy, who was just losing his voice, got miffed and attacked me behind the church. There we were, behind the house of God, knocking the shit out of each other.

» When I go back to Newcastle, I become a ‘used to be man,’ which means you sit in the car with friends saying there used to be a cinema there and there used to be a butcher shop there. All the pubs that I used to love have all been knocked down and become wine bars or restaurants selling pork belly, which is a very expensive way of serving you fat with a little bit of meat on it.

» I’m a member of probably one of the greatest golf clubs on the planet. It’s called Gator Creek. It only has about 250 members and it’s men only.

» In England, all the Manchester United fans are ticked off because they got the bloody Glazers: ‘They take our money, and all they do is spend it on the Bucs!’ And then all the guys here: ‘Bloody Glazers. They buy this freaking team in England, and they spend all the money over there!’

» I didn’t join a band to become famous. I joined a band to play music and for me peers to say, ‘He’s a good singer.’ That’s what you do.

» Everybody is already dead once they’ve passed 50, so just try to have the greatest time you can. I’m fit as a butcher’s dog. I race cars all over the world. I’ve got some good solid pals, great family and a great wife who really looks after me. When I race, I race to the maximum because I don’t care. I’ve already had a great life.

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