Brian Johnson's favorite singer, Greg Billings, appears on the latest episode of the "AC/DC Beyond the Thunder" episode, discussing his long-lasting friendship with the fellow Floridian, their many duets together, and even touching upon Johnson's darkest days with AC/DC.
"I just spent the week with Brian, and he's all excited about the Power Trip show," says Billings, reminding listeners that the AC/DC lead singer will turn 76 just two days before taking the stage at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, next month. "He's been getting in shape. He's so fired up. They're going to rehearse for five weeks doing nothing but playing."
The Power Trip festival is set to take place on October 6-8, featuring METALLICA, IRON MAIDEN, GUNS N' ROSES, TOOL, JUDAS PRIEST and AC/DC's first live appearance since 2016. Ozzy Osbourne was scheduled to perform, but canceled his appearance less than three months prior to the event due to ongoing health issues.
Billings reflects on his journey with Johnson, saying, "People started comparing my voice to Bon Scott." He adds, "Brian's wife [Brenda] was a big fan of [my previous band] STRANGER and finally brought Brian out, and we've been buddies ever since."
During the episode, Billings discusses and listens to the several duets that he and Brian Johnson recorded over the years, including a ballad written by Johnson for his wife about forgetting Valentine's Day. Billings notes, "It showed a great side of Brian because he's a soulful kind of guy as well, and a lot of people had not heard that side of Brian.
Billings also shared insights into a challenging period in Johnson's life, stating, "Brian was down. He was in a bad place, man. He couldn't hear. He had some surgeries."
After several attempts, Billings convinced the AC/DC frontman to get back in the saddle to sing a song that fit Brian Johnson's situation perfectly on another duet called "Old Friends Don't Come Easy". "I told him, ‘You need to come out of your house and let people know that you're still alive. You can still do this.'"
Billings remarks, "I was proud of Brian for getting up and doing that. He really appreciated the opportunity. It was a big moment for me and I think it was a big moment for Brian as well, and a good shot in the arm for him to be able to pull that song off."
Billings, known for playing with an impressive roster of musicians, originally hails from North Carolina and made a name for himself in Florida by playing beach bars and nightclubs. In the 1980s, he formed the rowdy Southern rock band STRANGER, which opened for nationally acclaimed acts like TRIUMPH, QUIET RIOT, UFO, MOLLY HATCHET and more. Billings later formed the GREG BILLINGS BAND (GBB) in 2003, a band known for its fusion of rock, soul, and rhythm and blues classics.
Besides his notable work with the AC/DC frontman, Billings has also worked with other music legends, including Rick Derringer, Robin Zander of CHEAP TRICK, members of Paul McCartney's band, and Donald "Duck" Dunn, of the Blues Brothers fame.
In addition to his music career, Billings created the podcast "What The Hell Have I Done?" as a retrospective look at his extensive music career.
"AC/DC Beyond The Thunder" has consistently delivered compelling and thought-provoking conversations with notable guests, and this episode promises to be no exception. With its combination of lively banter, exclusive stories, and insider knowledge, the podcast has become a must-listen for fans craving a deeper understanding of the powerhouse that is AC/DC.
Fueled by listener donations, "AC/DC Beyond The Thunder" is a non-profit organization, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the Make-A-Wish and Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundations.
"AC/DC Beyond The Thunder" podcast is now available for streaming on all platforms and at www.BeyondTheThunder.com.