For years, hardcore AC/DC fans have wondered whether Scott wrote lyrics for the seminal 1980 album, being that he passed away only months before the album was recorded and released. Songs like “Hells Bells,” “Have a Drink on Me,” and of course the legendary title track certainly share some of the imagery and themes of Scott’s lyrics. But Johnson insists that it was he himself who penned the words.
Johnson laid the rumors to rest in Chapter 22 of his new memoir, The Lives of Brian: “It was me at the end of the pen, writing every night and every morning, with only the title to work with. That’s what happened. That’s the truth and I really hope that settles it.”
He further elaborated on the matter in a new interview with Rolling Stone, explaining why he made a point to finally address the rumors in his autobiography.
“There was one particular journalist — a writer in Australia — who just wouldn’t let go of this thing,” Johnson said. “And of course, Malcolm and Angus [Young] were like, ‘What a fucking load of bullshit.’ And I said, I wish you would tell him. And their attitude was always, ‘Just leave it. Just let them talk himself into a fuckin’ early grave.'”
He continued: “And of course, it became more and more obvious by the day that Bon hadn’t, because the riffs weren’t written then. The boys were still doing it. So we didn’t say anything because otherwise it would have given [the journalist] more fame.”
Johnson went on to say that he wasn’t overly bothered by the rumor, but the occasional nosy inquiry from a curious fan led him to finally discount the Bon Scott-Back in Black rumors in his book.
“It wasn’t something that stuck in me craw a lot,” Johnson added, “but every now and again, a fan would come up and say, ‘This guy’s saying this.’ And factually, it wasn’t true. There wasn’t an internet then; it didn’t really get further than Australia. But I thought it was awful I had to explain myself and that’s why in the book, I went, once and for all, I want to put this baby to bed.”
Johnson has long since bequeathed lyrical duties, with the Young brothers taking over that task in the mid-’80s, in a mutual decision. But Johnson said he does miss writing some of the clever double-entendres.
“And I must admit I miss some of my lyrics,” he said. “There was some lovely tongue-in-cheek ones, you know … ‘She always kept her motor clean.’ We all know what I meant, but it’s the double-entendres I miss. I’m fine with it. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
You can order a copy of Brian Johnson’s new autobiography, The Lives of Brian, here.