Rock royalty Brian Johnson returned home to a hero’s welcome as AC/DC’s Geordie frontman received an honorary doctorate in music from Northumbria University.
Fresh from completing the band’s brand new album in Vancouver – and a winning finish at last weekend’s Le Mans Classic sportscar endurance race in France – the 66-year-old swapped his famous flat cap for a bright blue cap and gown.
Johnson, who was born and raised in Dunston, admitted he was more nervous addressing Northumbria’s graduates at the University’s packed Sport Central facility than he was belting out rock classics in front of thousands of screaming fans.
“On Sunday I was so worried about what I was going to say to everyone,” he said. “It was 1am, the rain was pouring down and I was driving a Porsche at 175mph around one of the most terrifying circuits in the world.
Brian Johnson receives honorary degree
“But all I could think about was what I could and should say to everyone at Northumbria Uiversity. Down the main straight all I had in my head was how to start my speech!
“But of course this day is really about all of the students graduating this week and their proud family and friends. It’s about all of those wonderful people who seem so happy.
“It’s such a big day for everyone and what I want to say to all of the students is that you’ve got a long road ahead. Enjoy the ride!”
Johnson, based in Florida, has celebrated the award of his honorary degree by splashing out on personalised number plates for three of his prized classic cars.
He added: “When I get back to America I’m going to make a really big deal out of this.
“In a not so subtle way I’ll be adding the number plates ROC DOC1, ROC DOC2 and ROC DOC3 to three of my cars. That’s how proud I am of this honour.”
Johnson revealed AC/DC will tour the UK next year as part of the band’s 40th anniversary celebrations.
But in a blow to North East fans he suggested the tour would take in Wembley Stadium and Glasgow’s Hampden Park but miss out a Newcastle date.
Johnson had always vowed the band would not return to Tyneside after AC/DC failed to sell out their Newcastle Arena show on 1996’s Ballbreaker tour.