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“It was hard to care when no one else did”: Watch Brian Johnson perform on TV with Geordie on the show that made no difference

By 1975 Brian Johnson’s Geordie were almost done: could a German TV save them from financial ruin?



As the singer with glam-rock band Geordie, future AC/DC singer Brian Johnson was Newcastle’s answer to Slade‘s Noddy Holder, another working-class hero with a foghorn for a voice. But unlike Slade, Geordie’s brand of roguish charm failed to bother the Top Of The Pops producers on a regular basis. 

There was just one Top 10 hit in The UK – All Because Of You reached number six in May 1973 – but that was about it. Their two following singles, Can You Do It and Electric Lady, suffered from diminishing returns, the latter peaking at number 32,  and they would never breathe such rarified air again. A new album, Don’t Be Fooled By The Name, emerged the following year, but failed to chart.  

In Germany, things were slightly better. Some degree of 1974 success arrived in the shape of Black Cat Woman, a shuddering glam-blues with a vocal from Johnson that sounds uncannily like Judas Priest‘s Rob Halford before lurching into a bizarre They’re Coming To Take Me Away-style section and climaxing with a demented cackle. It made the German Top 40.

A year later, in late September, Geordie made the journey to Baden Baden to appear on Pop 75, the second iteration of Pop, a show that had kicked off the previous year and would run until 1979. It was a final throw of the dice.

Hosted by Hans-Jürgen Kliebenstein, the broadcast found Geordie performing a non-album single, Goodbye Love, alongside several unlikely names. Alongside fellow Brits 5000 Volts – a pop disco act fronted by Tina Charles – and late disco queen Linda Lewis, viewers were treated to performances from Austrian folk singer Georg Danzer, Italian pop group I Santo California and German composer Rolf-Hans Müller.

Goodbye Love isn’t great. It starts promisingly enough, with a guitar fanfare from guitarist Mick Bennison, before settling into Boney M-style pop-disco chug. It sounds like a band still searching for a sound, and Beano’s vocals feature only faint traces of the shattering rasp that would define his work with AC/DC. He sings well, but it’s pleasing rather than truly powerful. Suffice to say, the song resolutely failed to chart, and the royalties resolutely failed to arrive.   

“It was hard to care when no one else did,” Johnson wrote in his 2022 autobiography The Lives of Brian. “People often ask me how and when Geordie eventually broke up. But the truth is, we never really did. There was no big argument or walk-­out. We didn’t lose anyone to drink or drugs. We were never even dumped by our record company. It all just kind of… fizzled out.”

“I was completely broke,” he told Classic Rock. “I had nothing. And I had two kids and a mortgage to pay. I was driving a VW Beetle that was fourteen years old. I was fucking skint.”