Who Is The Better AC/DC Singer: BON SCOTT Or BRIAN JOHNSON? Original AC/DC Frontman DAVE EVANS Weighs In

April 2, 2024

In a new interview with José Luis Mata Sanchez, original AC/DC frontman Dave Evans was asked if it's true that he offered his services to his former band when the legendary hard rockers postponed the last 10 dates of their spring 2016 North American trek after singer Brian Johnson was advised to stop playing live or "risk total hearing loss." The band went on to complete the European and North American legs of its "Rock Or Bust" tour with GUNS N' ROSES frontman Axl Rose as a "guest vocalist." At the time, Johnson had been AC/DC's singer for 36 years, ever since replacing the late Bon Scott in 1980 and making his debut on the classic "Back In Black" album.

"We call that in Australia bullshit. Okay. Bullshit," Dave said in reference to rumors that he wanted to temporarily rejoin his former band. "It was just somebody just trying to get a headline. No, of course not. I was doing my own thing. I wouldn't be going back there to do that. And Axl Rose was a friend of Angus [Young, AC/DC guitarist]; they were friends. And he just asked Axl if he could fill in — that's all — as a friend, and Axl said, 'Yeah, cool.' And that's why he did it. He just filled in while Brian was not in the band. The fans were reading a lot out of it: 'Axl has joined the band,' blah, blah, blah, all this bullshit that was going on. He was just helping out so that they could finish the tour. They could have canceled, of course, but Angus wanted to keep playing. So he just asked his [friend], 'Could you do me a favor and fill in?' Axl said, 'Yeah, of course. Why not?' And that's all it was. That's all it was."

Asked if he would be interested in playing with AC/DC again if he was approached, Dave said: "That won't happen. It's water under the bridge. And the songs are different, too, now. I do some songs of Bon Scott's when I do my show; people wanna hear those. And Brian Johnson also does songs of Bon Scott's too. [Bon's] not with us.

"We're all part of the family, whether we fight or not," Dave explained. "Most families fight. That's the way it is. But yeah, I do some of Bon's stuff. And Brian also does some of Bon's as well. But that's gone, long gone.

"I do my own stuff and I love my own music, of course, and the fans want me to sing my own stuff," Evans added. "It's the most important thing. But I don't mind doing some AC/DC songs for the crowds. Bon Scott used to do all of my songs — remember? — when he joined the band. He did all of my songs. In fact, he re-recorded some of my songs. So, yeah, that's cool."

Pressed about who he thinks is a better AC/DC singer, Bon Scott or Brian Johnson, Dave replied: "Well, first, Dave Evans is the best, of course. That's me, okay? Of course. And most of my fans will tell you exactly that, too. I'm not just making it up. After concerts, if you come to one of my concerts, you can make up your own mind, okay? But they call me maestro, which I love. So it's nice to be called maestro.

"But they're both completely different," he continued, referencing the original question about Bon and Brian. "And you can't compare them. You can't compare me either with Bon Scott or Brian Johnson. So that's an unfair question. You'll only get a Bon or a Brian from someone who's biased.

"If you're an AC/DC fan, you must embrace the whole band, because first of all, there was the five founding members, and I'm one of 'em," Evans explained. "Without us, there's no AC/DC at all. So if you're an AC/DC fan, then you must be a fan of the whole band. And if you're biased against one or the other, then you're not really an AC/DC fan. If you're a Bon Scott AC/DC fan or a Brian Johnson AC/DC fan, you're a fan of part of the band. But if you say you're an AC/DC fan, then you must embrace the whole band. Otherwise you're not an authentic and real AC/DC fan.

"So, yeah, the real AC/DC fans, they love AC/DC," Dave added. "And it's changed so much over the years. We had three bass players by the time I split from the band. We had three drummers by the time we split from the band. We had three managers. Without all that history, there's no Bon Scott era. There's none. And without Bon — he was there for six years, I think, before he died. And then the Brian Johnson era came. So without Bon and Dave, there's no Brian. Without Dave, there's no Bon. And so that's the whole band. It must be celebrated by all the fans and any fan that disparages any one of us can't call themselves AC/DC fans, and they should be completely ashamed of themselves."

Dave recorded AC/DC's first two singles, "Can I Sit Next To You Girl" and "Baby, Please Don't Go". But in October 1974, less than a year after AC/DC's first gig, Evans was out of the band. He was replaced by Bon Scott, who sang on AC/DC's first six studio albums and became a legend himself after his death in 1980.

Evans discussed his time with AC/DC in an interview with Brazil's Guarda Volume podcast. Speaking about the way his time with the band ended, Dave said: "We were very young — we were all very, very young. And our ambitions were forever. I didn't go, 'Oh, I'm gonna be in a band.' No. I had my whole career, my whole life to sing. I've been singing since I can remember. It ain't gonna stop because of a band I was with, I split from. I was in bands before AC/DC, of course. I was with bands before AC/DC. I split. VELVET UNDERGROUND [not to be confused with Lou Reed's group] I was with, a top band. AC/DC, Okay, I kept going. RABBIT, my own career. I never thought about splitting or stopping to sing. It was just another band I was with, but a very successful band. We had a hit record, 'Can I Sit Next To You Girl' was named as the best Australian group record of the year. First up. Great. Fantastic. It was a hit record. And to have a young band, first record, against all the other bands in Australia, [named] the best Australian group record of the year. That was fantastic. But there were different reasons why I split from the band, mostly because I wasn't getting paid any money."

He continued: "The manager was the third manager at that time. We weren't getting paid for the shows, and we were doing the biggest shows in Australia. The Sydney Opera House, the famous Sydney Opera House, Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, Festival Hall down in Melbourne, all the shows. Where's the money? Show me the money. No money. We toured with Lou Reed from the USA. [We played] the biggest venues, sold out — all sold out. How about some money? No money. So in the end, I couldn't stay with the band, because I was paying off my car in Sydney, paying my car off, my flat, and I'm working hard. So we had a bit of a meeting one night and had a few drinks and stuff. And the manager was there. And he was making money because he was getting money off the top. The rest of the money, I don't know what happened to it. We didn't have any. So, the manager, nice new permed hair, new jeans, bell bottom jeans, leather valise, flying around the country, us in trucks. He had the money. We had no money. So at, I said to him, 'What's happening here?' I confronted him. We were all bitching about it. And he got up and smart-mouthed to me. So I got up and bang, knocked him down. And the other boys got me and pulled me off the manager. So it was decided that when that tour we were on finished that this had to be resolved. This had to be resolved. I said, 'If I'm not getting paid, I am not gonna go on tour again.' So I said, 'I'm not going.' Who would? I'm not stupid. So at the end of the tour, no resolution. They weren't gonna give me what I wanted. So I split from the band. I said, 'Well, that's it.' I said, 'Okay. See you later.' I wasn't gonna take it."

Elaborating on his reasons for walking away from AC/DC, Evans said: "It's like any job. If you're a carpenter or you're a teacher or something, and they don't pay you, what are you gonna do? 'Oh, it's okay.' No. How are you gonna feed your children? No children for me, but if you had children, how would you feed your children? How would you pay your car off? You can't. And you're working hard. [AC/DC founders] Malcolm and Angus Young lived at home with their parents. They lived at home with their parents. They didn't have to pay any money. I did. I had my apartment in Sydney, so I had to pay. Otherwise I was gonna lose it. My car, they'd come and take it away. But Malcolm and Angus, [they had] no car. And they lived at home with their parents. So it didn't matter so much to them, but it mattered to me. And I wasn't gonna take it. So I stood up for myself."

Regarding the iconic singer who replaced him, Dave said: "Poor Bon Scott. Bon Scott joined the band and he went through a lot of crap too. And he ended up dead. He was working, working, working, working, working, working. And he was depressed, sad. He looked happy, 'cause he was drunk all the time. Bon Scott drank all the time. Alcoholic. You see photographs of Bon Scott, he's always got a bottle or a drink all the time. Sad. Sad. But it killed him in the end. But he was going through a lot of hell, too, with the band.

"I spoke to Bon Scott after he joined [AC/DC]," Evans revealed. "We had a private conversation about things, which will remain private. And so when I found out what happened to Bon Scott, when I read about it, and I spoke to his wife about it too — I saw his wife who told me what happened and stuff — I wasn't surprised. I was not surprised."

Evans previously talked about his exit from AC/DC in a 2021 interview with DJ Grant from New Zealand's Galaxy 107 FM. At the time, he said: "You've gotta remember that Bon Scott did a lot of the songs that I already did, like 'Baby, Please Don't Go', we already did that. That's the song that I got Angus up on my shoulders, and, of course, he used to watch us doing our show, so he copied that. I understand that he copied what I was doing. And the songs too, and re-recorded them and re-wrote the lyrics to some of the songs that I had already put down. But he was told to do that. I know that he was under instructions to do this, so I don't really hold it against Bon Scott for that, because when he joined the band, he was washed up at the time, and he got a great chance to do something, and he did too. He did a great job, but his lifestyle just let him down."

Evans also talked about the enduring popularity of "Can I Sit Next To You Girl", which was originally released as a single in July 1974 and featured drums by Colin Burgess and bass by George Young (older brother of AC/DC co-founders Malcolm and Angus Young).

"It's one of those songs, I play it around the world — I still do, of course, every show I do — and people love the song," he said. "And it's amazing how many people say to me that's their favorite AC/DC song. I can't believe it. [AC/DC has] 'T.N.T.' and all those great songs, 'Highway To Hell' and all these other great songs, and fans come up to me and say that that's their favorite song."

Earlier in 2021, Dave was asked in an interview with The Rocker Diaries if he thought "that would be it" for AC/DC after Bon's death in 1980. He responded: "No, not at all. I mean, we all keep going. And AC/DC has had that many players through [the history of] the band. I don't know how many. 20? And three singers, plus a stand-in singer as well.

"We were always ambitious when we first started," he continued. "We always wanted to be the best in the world — all of us. And after me, Bon Scott got his chance. He did great with the band. And when he died, I just thought, 'Who are they gonna get?' I never thought [I would be approached about it] myself, because that's water under the bridge. And I was busy with bands as well at the time, and doing my own music and recording. I was just wondering who it would be. I had heard of [Brian Johnson's pre-AC/DC band] GEORDIE — just the name GEORDIE. I'd never heard of Brian. And then Brian popped up and, of course, the 'Back In Black' album came out, which was a massive album around the world, and they were off and running with Brian. But if Brian quit, they'd get another singer, and another singer. [They've gone through] different bass players [and] different drummers.

"The drive was always Malcolm Young," Dave added. "I remember Malcolm when I first met him. He was such a driving force. Just a tiny little guy — just a little touch over five foot tall — but, boy, he had a big heart and a big personality. And he was tough, too — Malcolm was very tough. And no matter what, he was AC/DC through and through. And, of course, once he passed away, which is very sad, AC/DC, of course, will never, ever be the same without Malcolm. How can it be?"

In May 2021, Evans released a new compilation album called "BADASS Greatest Hits". The effort contained "20 massive hits on one album," including Dave's version of "Rockin' In The Parlour", the song that originally appeared as the B-side of the "Can I Sit Next to You Girl" single.

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