AC/DC Singer Brian Johnson Got Hearing Loss From Racing Cars, Not Music

Jeff Daly, AP Images

The latest AC/DC tour has been delayed by doctors fearing over lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. You’d think it was all those rock’n’roll canons and huge amps doing the damage. Nope. Johnson claims he burst an ear drum in a racecar, not on stage.

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Johnson has been suffering from hearing loss since before 2014, with doctors forcing him to postpone the remaining U.S. dates of AC/DC’s current tour. From Ultimate:

AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson has been openly discussing his hearing loss since at least 2014, when he told Howard Stern that rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t entirely to blame.

“I’ve obviously had some hearing loss,” Johnson told Stern. “I’ve got hearing loss in me left ear. I didn’t get it from music. I got it from sitting in a race car too long without ear plugs. I heard my ear drum burst, because I forgot to put me plugs in under my helmet. That’s how it happened. Music had nothing to do with it.”

AC/DC have postponed the remaining dates of their U.S. tour after doctors pulled Johnson off the road, saying he risked total hearing loss if he continued to perform. The band has committed to making up those dates, mentioning the possible use of a replacement singer. Johnson has been the band’s singer since 1980.

Pier Marco Tacca, Getty Images

In the same Howard Stern interview from 2014, Johnson claimed that he seemed to forget about the hearing loss after “about a week” of the incident occurring, but it’s not clear when that was.

Johnson is a notable automotive bad ass, taking part in vintage races like the Mille Miglia and charity races, as well as owning a ton of awesome stuff like an original “James Bond” Bentley 4 1/2 liter and a Ferrari 458, among others. He even showed up on Top Gear a few times. He’s also Jalopnik’s second-coolest celebrity car owner.


It’s ironic that a man that’s been making the loudest noise at rock concerts for over 35 years on stage is losing his hearing to racing cars, but I’d guess he’d agree with me in saying that’s the right way to do it.

The full Howard Stern video from 2014 is below, and hopefully Mr. Johnson is cleared soon to make up those tour dates. The part about hearing loss is just after 23 minutes.

Remember to wear your hearing protection out on track.

Contact the author at or @WestbrookTweets.

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