AC/DC's Brian Johnson tells Kelly Jones how Hells Bells was inspired by real storm
21 November 2020, 14:00
Kelly Jones interviews AC/DC’s Brian Johnson about new album POWER UP | Radio X
Watch the AC/DC rocker tell Stereophonics' Kelly Jones how the lyrics to Hells Bells were inspired by a real tropical storm.
Brian Johnson has revealed how he was "stuck" on writing AC/DC's Hells Bells anthem until suddenly there was a tropical storm in the Bahamas where they were making the record.
The Geordie rocker has been interviewed by huge Acca Dacca fan and Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones and talked about their new Power Up album as well as some of the band's greatest hits.
Johnson - who joined the band after the death of Bon Scott in 1980 - is responsible for penning the band's biggest hits on their Back In Black album such as its title track, Shook Me All Night Long and Shoot To Thrill.
However, he found he had writer's block when it came to writing Hells Bells until he witnessed a storm with the band's producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange, who encouraged him to write down everything that was taking place.
"I was stuck on Hells Bells," he told the Stereophonics frontman. "I was going 'Hells Bells?' What do I start writing about that? I've already said quite a lot about that in these other songs, you know?
"And Mutt Lange had come down and said: 'You're looking a little lost there.' I said, 'I've written four songs in four days. I've got nothing left. I think I need a rest.'
"He said, 'Well it's called Hells Bells...' and outside there was a storm brewing like I've never seen before. It was a Bahamas storm. It was a tropic storm and I remember looking out and the sun just disappeared. It was almost black. Horrible. And in the background I heard... I went, 'That's rolling thunder isn't it?'
"He said: 'Write that down,' [...] I said 'This is a weather report not a song!' Then the wind was whipping round and he said, 'It looks like there's a hurricane coming in,' and I said 'I'm coming on like a hurricane' and he went, 'Write that down, that's good that's good.'
"Then lightning started right across the sky. I'd never seen anything like it. I thought holy crap! Then I start singing 'Lightning flashing across the sky' I was so scared. I wrote 'You're only young but you're gonna die' and that was it!
"That's what started the song. It was basically a weather report which turned into a verse. It's funny how things happen!"
Watch their interview in our video above.
Brian Johnson announced his departure from the band in 2016 after he was told by doctors he had to stop performing or risk "total hearing loss".
Luckily, after working with specialist doctors, the 73-year-old rocker was able to help combat the damage that had been done and rejoined his bandmates to work on their 17th studio album Power Up, which was released on 13 November this year.
The album also marked the return of drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams, who had left the band either before, during or after the supporting tour for 2014's Rock Or Bust.
Talking about how it felt returning to the studio with his bandmates, he said: "You can imagine, we get into the studio for the first day. First time we've all been together in three years, with Phil even longer....
"You know, it's just hard to describe it. It's like there was electricity in the air [...] It was just there and all the boys will tell you the same."
AC/DC's Power Up album, which features lead single Shot In The Dark, is out now.
Listen to it here: