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    AC/DC’s Brian Johnson writes about his Cinderella lives

    AP – Before he began tearing the roof off arenas as lead singer of hard rock icon AC/DC, Brian Johnson was fixing roofs.

    In his new memoir, the singer recounts how he went from being a vinyl car roof fitter in the northeast of England to leading one of the most hailed bands in the world.

    It’s a Cinderella story. Only Johnson, now 75, was a Cinderella at least three times, never giving up on his dream of singing in a rock ‘n’ roll band. “I don’t know what it is, I just never, ever sort of gave in,” he said recently by phone from his home in Florida. “I was always willing to give something a shot when more pessimistic people wouldn’t have. I always thought the glass was half-full.”

    The Lives of Brian Johnson, from Dey Street Books, goes chronologically through his ups and downs growing up near Newcastle, ending with him joining AC/DC and recording the band’s Back in Black album.

    “It wasn’t so much to validate my life,” he said of the book. “It was to validate the lives of all the wonderful people that I met that helped shape my life – friends from school, friends at the factories, friends in the music.”

    Music was his North Star and he recalls first hearing Little Richard sing “Awop bop/a-loo bop/awop bam boom” at 11.

    Brian Johnson and Angus Young perform on the Rock or Bust Tour in Chicago. PHOTO: AP

    “Many have described that song, Tutti Frutti as the sound of rock ‘n’ roll being born – which is fitting, because my dream of becoming a singer was born in that moment,” he wrote.

    Johnson was an apprentice engineer who sang on the side and was a young father and husband. To earn enough money for a PA system, he joined an airborne infantry regiment of the British Army.

    He attended one of Jimi Hendrix’s first shows in Britain, saw Sting perform when soon – The Police star was 15 and made friends with members of Slade and Thin Lizzy.

    He would meet Chuck Berry but it didn’t go well. “Never meet your heroes,” he wrote.

    Johnson, who would later pen the immortal lines “Forget the hearse/’cause I’ll never die,” made his live debut in the deliciously named The Toasty Folk Trio, survived a horrific car crash and finally found some success in the band Geordie.

    The band made it to the Top of the Pops – a show that was a crowning achievement for any nascent band.

    He gave up a good career at his engineering firm, but Geordie had only one Top 10 hit and soon fizzled out. “At the age of 28, I’d lost everything. My marriage, my career, my house,” he wrote.

    He moved in with his parents and recalled once watching AC/DC on BBC. “I loved every second of it. But, of course, it was also a reminder that I’d had my shot and blown it.”

    Johnson rebuilt his life, becoming a windscreen fitter – later a car roof fixer – and founded Georgie II. He was happy. He had a little business and a little band. “I thought that was my second Cinderella story, but there was more to come,” he said.

    The book reveals the origin of his trademark cap: Once he rushed to a gig with no time to change, sweating glue and shards of glass into his eyes. His brother, Maurice, lent him his cloth driving cap as protection, an addition the fans loved.

    Still, part of Johnson was unfulfilled. It was a meeting with singer Roger Daltrey that proved pivotal.

    The Who’s frontman invited Johnson – then living with his band in an apartment – over for a meal at his manor house.

    On the day, Johnson recalls Daltrey riding toward him bare-chested and barefoot with no saddle, holding onto the mane of his galloping white horse (“If this isn’t a rock star, I thought to myself, I don’t know what is,” he wrote.)

    “He said, ‘I’m going to give you one piece of advice, Brian. Never give up. Do you understand me? Never, ever give up.’ And I really took that to heart,” Johnson recalled.

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