Who will be AC/DC’s next singer?
AC/DC is the greatest rock and roll band of all time. There, I said it. This does not mean they are the best, simply the greatest. What makes them the greatest is a combination of many things, but first and foremost is their mass appeal to just about every living person. The gazillion albums they have sold aside, AC/DC is one of the few bands who has managed to cross over all genres and age groups to be appreciated by the greatest number of people. Plenty of people thumb their noses at The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath; four bands considered to be the four anchors that span the breadth and bedrock of what rock and roll is. They each have their detractors. Only AC/DC embraces elements of all four, and while they may not be everybody’s favorite band, one cannot help but tap that toe and smile when one of the band’s iconic songs starts playing. It is almost impossible, even for the few who declare they can’t stand AC/DC. The band is simply too infectious, which is why the loss of Brian Johnson resonates so much with fans. How will AC/DC carry on, and should they even try?
The idea of Axl Rose fronting AC/DC makes for a nice April Fools punch line, but if the latest of the circulating rumors continue to cement, it appears this may be the case, at least for a handful of shows. It would certainly be an intriguing footnote to AC/DC’s iconic career to see Rose try and lead the band, but as a serious ongoing position it seems something of an insult to the band’s legacy, the fans, to Brian Johnson, and even the memory of the late Bon Scott. If we are being honest, Axl Rose in 2016 is a poor man’s version of Axl 1986, and over the last 20 years he has become a caricature.
This week Angus Young turned 61, and the band turns 43 later this year. Malcom Young, the band’s co-founder has retired due to the onset of dementia, longtime drummer Phil Rudd is out of the band due to legal and drug issues; and now vocalist Brian Johnson has been unceremoniously jettisoned by the band (i.e. Angus) due to the threat of his hearing loss. Johnson has long been an auto racing enthusiast, which has caused damage to his hearing, including a punctured left ear drum. This ousting is probably a good thing for Brian who has been with the band for over 35 years. He has hinted at retirement in the past, however, the speed and lack of decorum with which he was kicked to the curb by the band has met with the ire of many fans.
Clearly Angus is not ready to retire, and he has said he wants to make at least one more record and tour for another decade. Whether this is a wise idea or not is up to fans and critics to debate, the fact is this seems to be the path the band is taking. So the question becomes who would, should or could, front AC/DC in the homestretch of their legendary career? Axl is certainly not the answer. Many names have been bandied about, but one has to consider the long term and the short term. AC/DC is charging a premium sum for concert tickets, so choosing the vocalist who is the best fit for their sound is not as important as finding one who has the name recognition and intrigue to make fans say, “Well, it’s not Brian, but this will still be cool to see. It’s a once in a lifetime event.” Moving forward to recording and the future beyond this tour, that is where Angus must decide if he wants to relaunch the band a third time, and if he does, then he needs a vocalist who is not a band-aid, but a long-term solution.
Here are five names that have been tossed around by fans and journalists:
The Maltese vocalist has fronted Swiss rockers, Krokus, since 1979. The Krokus sound has often been compared to AC/DC, and much of that is attributable to Storace’s voice and delivery style. Storace had the opportunity after Bon Scott’s passing to get the gig then but passed up the audition to focus on Krokus. Storace is in the same age range as Angus. He’s in good health and he has the stage presence, experience, and voice to do the job brilliantly. He would be a fantastic long-term solution.
The enigmatic former frontman for iconic glam-rockers, Slade, Holder had the opportunity to replace the late Bon Scott before AC/DC tapped Brian Johnson. Holder turned the gig down. The “Cum on Feel the Noize” vocalist fits into the same mold as Johnson, but it’s difficult to say if he still has the chops at this point to pull it off. He’s 69 and retired from Slade in 1992. He’s not really a solution at all.
If one were going to go with a big name front man, the former Skid Row vocalist would be a much better choice than Axl Rose. Bach has no shortage of energy and charisma, and he still has a powerful voice, though it doesn’t really fit into the classic AC/DC mold. Sebastian could certainly make it entertaining, and it would be an exciting show to watch. He would be a good short-term solution.
Airbourne’s resident front man has the energy, the chops, and the voice to lead AC/DC. His youth and charisma could reinvigorate the band. His own band has often been compared to a young, edgier version of AC/DC, and he happens to be Australian. He would be a solid long-term solution.
Jesse James Dupree
The Jackyl frontman is probably a guy Brian Johnson would support as his predecessor. The two have similar voices and Johnson once appeared on the Jackyl song, “Locked and Loaded”. Dupree is a seasoned performer and his voice can easily handle both eras of AC/DC. He would be a strong long-term solution.
There are any number of young up-and-coming vocalists who could suitably mimic the voice of AC/DC, and a complete unknown is certainly a possibility for the band if they are going to continue to record new music. However, to remain viable, it would only make sense to pick someone who both has the voice, but also some name recognition with rock fans, and of those that have been suggested, Storace is perhaps the best option, followed by Dupree. What are your thoughts? Vote below and if a name is not on the list add it to the comments below.