During a recent appearance on Raised On Radio, Johnson was asked when is the last time he was seen or photographed without a hat on, to which responded: “Oh, well, I wear them for things like this. When I’m home and in Florida, I’m just one of the boys, swimming and plunging and having a good time.
“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 because it was freezing outside.
“And I always used to sweat and my hair and all the sweat used to go in the eyes and sting! 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, 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 a 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 a second and I went, ‘That’s marvelous! It’s brilliant! I’m going to buy one of them!’ And I remember as I said what I said, he went, ‘You can keep that, I’m not putting that on!’
“So I did, and then people started remembering like, ‘Oh, it’s a good band, the singer that wears the cap!’ And then straight away, we’ve got instant recognition with things like that. And we’ve got gigs, we’ve got shows when people went, ‘We want that group, what are they called? You know, the singer wears a cap!’ ‘Oh, right, Geordie!’
“And it’s stuck and all of that,” Brian added. “And I guess it’s just part of us. When I don’t want anybody to know who I am, I take it off. ‘Are you a member, sir?’ I put my cap on and, ‘Oh, hello, Brian! Are you all right?’”
When asked if Angus ever considered dropping his schoolboy uniform, Brian replied: “No, it was just that — he’s doing it forever. And if he didn’t do it, honestly, I’d be disappointed. Thing happens — Angus always said he’s got three personalities.
“There’s him, who’s very quiet, sits at home — he’s a quiet lad, he does his thing, does his music, that’s it,” Johnson continued. There’s the Angus that picks the guitar up and just turns into this musician, just writing and just concentration.
“And then the third one is when he sticks the school uniform on! And I’ve seen it, and it is! It’s tangible, he guns into the back and he’s sitting there, and out he comes like Clark Kent out of the telephone booth — he’s just totally switched on!
“Bright-eyed, razor-sharp, twitching, ‘Ready! Come on, right, let’s go!’ And I don’t think he could even contemplate going on without that uniform, and neither could I, neither could the audience.
“And I think it’s just an integral part of the band — that all the little nuances in our band that make it different — the cap, the uniform, Phil [Rudd, drums] with a cigarette in his mouth… It’s just all of those things that make people go, ‘Ah, it’s the boys!’ And it’s strange that just little, little, silly little things like that make something solid, and recognizable, and safe, and comfortable, and lovely!”