By Brian Ives
Earlier this week, AC/DC announced that they were going to reschedule a handful of their upcoming U.S. dates due to frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing issues. Doctors have told him that unless he stops touring, he risks suffering a total loss of his hearing.
The band said that the rescheduled dates will likely feature a “replacement singer.” Of course, you can’t have just anyone sing some of the most memorable songs in hard rock history. Luckily, a lot of well known singers have taken a stab at the Australian band’s classics over the years, and now those recordings can serve as audition tapes of sorts. Here then, are a few singers who have put their own spin on AC/DC and who we think could fill the shoes of Johnson (and original singer Bon Scott).
Steven Tyler – Yeah, he’s in the process of launching his career as a country solo artist, but surely he could take just a few weeks for the band who he called “the ultimate middle finger aimed at the establishment,” when he presented them at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2003. Tyler clearly has fancied the idea of singing for other bands (he allegedly tried out to front an ad hoc Led Zeppelin reunion band with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham in 2008), so why not AC/DC? Besides, he’s one of the only singers to join them on stage; he performed “You Shook Me All Night Long” with them at the aforementioned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Lzzy Hale of Halestorm – If AC/DC is really searching for someone to take over, why not cast a wide net and include women as well as men? Plus, Lzzy would attract a younger audience to the shows. And she’s covered “Shoot to Thrill” with Halestorm; she gets points for not choosing a totally obvious AC/DC tune. Plus, she can add a third guitar to AC/DC’s dual guitar attack.
Joan Jett – She’d be perfect, plus she’s also one of the few artists to have a top 40 hit with an AC/DC cover, “Dirty Deeds” in 1990. She even has a song called “A.C.D.C.,” although that’s a Slade cover. And while it’s not about the band, the subject matter is certainly something the band would appreciate (and hey, the video featured Carmen Electra).
Shakira – Yeah, she’s one of the biggest pop stars in the world, but she’s a rock fan at heart. Although we’re not sure how her phrasing would go over with AC/DC fans.
Bruce Springsteen – Both Springsteen and AC/DC have had incredibly successful careers that began in the early ’70s, helped in so small part by airplay on rock radio. And that may be where the similarities end. But still, check out his cover of “Highway to Hell”:
P!nk – P!nk’s love of AC/DC is so strong that she opened her concerts on her 2009-2010 “Funhouse” tour with a video of her singing “Highway to Hell.” Based on recording, she’d be able to do the job.
Jack Black – How could an AC/DC concert possibly be more fun? Add Jack Black. Not only does he love rock, but he brought that love to a new generation in the immortal film, School of Rock. And dig his performance of “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)” from the end credits.
Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Stone Sour – If you’ve seen one of his solo acoustic gigs, you know that this guy can cover just about anything. And if you’ve seen the videos of him on Dave Grohl’s 2013 Sound City Players tour covering “Ain’t That a Shame” with Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear and Dave Grohl, you know this guy loves playing straight up rock backed by a kick-a– band.
Honorable Mention: Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers – He never quite covered an AC/DC song, but he did write and sing a song called “Let There Be Rock,” which referenced the AC/DC song of the same name. It also name-drops Blue Oyster Cult, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, .38 Special, the Johnny Van Zant Band, Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads. In the song, he notes that he never saw Skynyrd in concert, “But I sure saw AC/DC with Bon Scott singing/’Let There Be Rock’ tour!” Hood told Radio.com “That was my first really great rock show as a youth. AC/DC had just come to America with Let There Be Rock, I think my ticket was three dollars! It was mind-blowing! that was kind of one of those moments: ‘That’s what I want to do!'” Having him front AC/DC would bring things full circle.