Brian Johnson has one of the most classic rock and roll looks of all time, but it all happened for a very practical reason.
Johnson said in an interview with Planet Rock that he began wearing hats while performing back when he was the singer for Geordie, the band he was in before joining AC/DC.
Johnson explained, “The hat thing started — I’ll never forget, I used to play the working men’s clubs in and around the northeast of England, and we would really rock. It was a grand little rock band called Geordie, and I used to sweat because they didn’t have any air conditioning. And in the winter especially, the clubs were full and they’d have the heating full up, ’cause it was freezing outside. And I always used to sweat, and my hair, all the sweat used to go in the eyes and sting.”
He continued, “And my brother Maurice was there one night. He was there and he’s sitting. And he had just got himself a sports car, and he bought — God bless him — he bought one of them sports-car caps. You know, they’re little caps. And we were halfway through the set, and I was sitting having a beer with him, and he said, ‘Your eyes are red!’ I said, ‘I know, it’s all the sweat.’ He said, ‘Yeah, put this on.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I’ll try.’ And I put it on, because in the north of England, everybody wore caps — you know, after the war and all that, it was a kind of uniform for the Geordies and Yorkshiremen and people like that. And I wore it for the second half [of the set] and I went, ‘That’s marvelous! It’s brilliant!'”
Johnson then told his brother, “‘I’m gonna buy one of them!’ And he says, ‘You can keep that. I’m not putting that on.’ So I did. And then people started remembering, ‘Oh, it’s a good band. The singer that wears the cap. Him.’ And then straight away, we got instant recognition with things like that. And we got gigs, we got shows. ‘We want that group. What are they called? You know, the singer wears the cap!’ ‘Oh, right. Geordie!’ And it stuck. And I guess it’s just part of us now.”
So, how much is the hat part of Johnson’s identity? He later divulged in the interview that if he wants to go unnoticed in public, he just won’t wear his hat.