“The biggest balls in rock”. This caption accompanied an Instagram post by ex-Guns N’ Roses bassist Tommy Stinson showing a photo of his former bandmate Axl Rose next to a copy of AC/DC’s classic ‘Powerage’ album. Of course an Axl fronted AC/DC remains at present just a rumour, but that doesn’t mean you can’t speculate on how this coming together of rock giants would look, and sound.
In some ways it’s impossible to argue with Axl’s credentials. He has fronted one of the world’s most iconic bands and, as we all know, is no stranger to the type of controversy that surrounds the idea of a post-Johnson AC/DC. His vocal ability also remains beyond doubt. Boasting one of rock’s greatest ranges, and with previous for covering AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, on a technical level Axl would work. But technical ability isn’t everything.
Historically Brian Johnson and Axl Rose could not be much more different. Brought into replace the highly popular Bon Scott, Johnson had it all to prove when he joined AC/DC in 1980. During his forty year tenure with the band he worked to ingratiate himself to the fans, and for many he is as much a part of AC/DC as Angus Young himself. With his trademark flat-cap and Cheshire cat grin, Johnson looks like the average man in the pub, until he opens his mouth of course.
Then you have Axl Rose. Notorious for late appearances, show cancellations, and the infamous St. Louis riot where he leapt from the stage to tackle a crowd-member for taking photos, the enigmatic frontman has had a less harmonious relationship with his fans. Axl’s pugnacious persona contrasts sharply with the ever-lovable Johnson, and in a way it is difficult to envisage his eye-catching stage-wear next to Young’s tongue-in-cheek school-boy outfit. Put simply, Guns N’ Roses was for so long the ‘Axl Rose show’, and it is hard to imagine him singing someone else’s song and very much playing second fiddle to Young on the AC/DC stage.
That said, it is difficult to imagine anyone filling the space that Johnson made so very much his own. Whilst Axl might not seem the obvious choice for the role, you can rest assured that he would not be overcome by the enormity of the situation. A ballsy decision- yes, and if it proves to be true only time will tell if it was the right one.
This Guns ‘n’ Roses article was written by Al Hall, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson.