Axl Rose says he means “no disrespect” to AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson, whom he is replacing on the band’s Rock or Bust World Tour.
BBC — In his first interview in five years, the Guns N’ Roses star told BBC 6 Music he was huge fan of Johnson’s singing and “wants to do it justice”.
Rose was drafted in after Johnson was advised to stop playing live or “risk total hearing loss”.
He makes his debut with the band in Lisbon, Portugal, on Saturday 7 May.
“I’m happy and excited in one sense, but I think it would be inappropriate to be celebrating, in a certain way, at someone else’s expense,” he said.
“That’s not what I’m here to do. It’s an unfortunate situation.”
Some fans have been unhappy with Rose’s hiring, with several thousand requesting ticket refunds for some of the European shows – although these have now all been re-sold.
Johnson, 68, from Gateshead, has been lead singer with AC/DC since 1980.
In a statement last month, he said he was “crushed” by his inability to fulfil the remaining tour dates.
There have been rumours the split was acrimonious, but guitarist Angus Young explained he had spoken to Johnson extensively before he decided to leave the group.
“In his heart he wanted to finish [the tour] but because of that hearing factor he had to make the decision,” he told the BBC.
“It’s a hard thing to do, and he’d had the problem since we kicked off touring. It was his call. It was a shock to us too.”
“The last thing you want to do is walk away from something, but you don’t want someone in a tragic situation; being deaf, or any other affliction.”
Young said the band had “seen our fair share of tragedies”, including the departure of his brother, guitarist Malcolm Young, after he developed dementia, and the death of original singer Bon Scott in 1980.
“After that you’re doubly careful,” he said. “You want [band members] to be leaving in full body shape, not in a tragic way.”
Rose also confirmed it was his idea to approach AC/DC about helping them complete the last 12 dates of their world tour.
“I called the day I read about it in the news, that there was a situation going on with Brian’s hearing,” he said.
“I called a guy who’s their production manager right now… because I knew there was going to be a problem with having dates on sale and dates sold and stuff like that. So if I could help, and if I was able to do it, and they were interested, I’d love to help. And that’s how it started.
“I wasn’t looking at it like, ‘I’m singing for AC/DC.’ I was looking at it like, ‘y’know, if I can, and if they think I’m able to do it.”
Rose also said he didn’t know whether he would be able to sing some of the songs in the set.
“A lot of the Back In Black stuff is really challenging. I’m not here in any way out of any disrespect to Brian. I can’t take anything away from his singing at all,” he said.
“He’s a great singer and it’s really challenging to sing it. I’m just trying to do it justice for the fans.”
You can hear Matt Everitt’s full interview with AC/DC and Axl Rose on the BBC 6 Music Breakfast show from 07:00 BST on Friday, 6 May.
Read the full interview at BBC