It’s time for me to weigh in on this one. As almost everybody who gives a damn knows, Axl Rose has taken over for Brian Johnson to finish out some dates on the current “Rock or Bust” tour. The reaction to this has been intense. Some people seem to think it’s a good idea, but most seem to think AC/DC has made a huge mistake. There’s a lot of whining going on. People are talking like they have a right to decide who AC/DC hires to sing for them. Bands get new members. It happens. Get over it.
I get it. I really do. A lot of people see Axl as an asshole. They see him as the reason Guns ‘n’ Roses broke up. His track record does include starting riots, unprofessional behavior, and an all-around disrespect for the opportunities he’s been given. That’s all in the past, and by most accounts, he seems to be on track now. We’ve all made mistakes, folks.
Of course, there’s the camp that says Axl just can’t cut it vocally anymore. First, a lot of bands from his era are falling short of what they could once do. People get older. Second, from what I’ve seen and heard, Axl does a pretty good job of doing AC/DC. His range isn’t quite what it was, and on some of the songs his phrasing annoys me, but for the most part, he does the music justice. He’s an AC/DC fan and he’s treating the gig with respect. That means he’s showing up on time and he’s engaging like he’s part of a group, not a solo artist. AC/DC wouldn’t let it go any other way.
Remember this. People thought AC/DC was finished after Bon Scott died. Some of their best stuff was made with Bon Scott as lead singer, but Brian Johnson came in and proved that AC/DC’s best years weren’t behind them. Neither of these singers can be replaced or even matched. I wish Brian was still singing with them, but the issue with his hearing prevents it. Maybe he’ll record with them, assuming they record a new album, but if not, he served the band well during his time with them.
There is a rumor that Axl will record an album with AC/DC. That’s all it is at this time. I don’t see it happening. In fact, Axl may do something to mess this up yet. He’s supposed to be doing a reunion with Guns ‘n’ Roses. I can’t see him managing that and working with AC/DC, especially if they do want to record an album with him. Maybe he can, or maybe there won’t be a new album with him. Either way, he’s singing with them now and not doing an awful job of it. In fact, it’s pretty damn good.
These classic rock bands are getting older. Members are dying or retiring. As that happens, we’re going to see more of what we’re seeing with Axl and AC/DC. If we want to continue to hear new albums and see shows with these bands, we’re going to have to do as REO Speedwagon suggests. We’re going to have to roll with the changes.