Bon Scott PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 29 October 2008 17:44

Bon Scott (center) pictured with guitarist Angus Young (left), performing at the Ulster Hall, August, 1979.

Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott

Born: 9 July 1946, Kirriemuir, Scotland

Died: 19 February 1980, London.

Age: 33

Cause of death: Alcohol poisoning.

Notable because: Proper rock legend. Sang 'Highway to Hell.'

 

Bon Scott was a rock musician, best known for being the lead singer and lyricist of Australian hard rock band AC/DC from 1974 until his death in 1980. He was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland, and emigrated to Melbourne, Australia with his family in 1952 at the age of six.

Scott formed his first band, The Spektors, in 1964 and became the band's drummer and occasional lead vocalist. He performed in several other bands including The Valentines and Fraternity before replacing Dave Evans as the lead singer of AC/DC in 1974.

AC/DC's popularity grew throughout the 1970s, initially in Australia, and then internationally. Their 1979 album Highway to Hell reached the top twenty in the United States, and the band seemed on the verge of a commercial breakthrough. However, on 19 February 1980, Scott died after a night of partying in London. AC/DC briefly considered disbanding, but the group quickly recruited vocalist Brian Johnson of the British glam rock band Geordie. AC/DC's subsequent album, Back in Black, was released only five months later, and was a tribute to Scott. It went on to become the second best-selling album in history.

Bon Scott was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland on 9 July 1946 to Charles and Isabelle Scott. A younger brother Derek was born in 1949. The Scott family immigrated to Australia in 1952 where they initially lived in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine. It was at Sunshine Primary School that he received his nickname; there was already a classmate with the name Ronald and as he had recently arrived from Bonnie Scotland he was dubbed "Bon" and the name stuck. A second brother, Graeme, was born in 1953.

In 1956, the family moved to Fremantle, Western Australia and Bon joined the associated Fremantle Scots Pipe Band, learning the drums. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 and spent a short time in Fremantle Prison's assessment centre and nine months at the Riverbank Juvenile Institution relating to charges of giving a false name and address to the police, having escaped legal custody, having unlawful carnal knowledge and stealing twelve gallons of petrol. He attempted to join the Australian Army but was rejected for being deemed as "socially maladjusted."

After working as a postman, bartender and truck packer, Scott started his first band, The Spektors, in 1964 as drummer and occasional lead singer. Two years later the Spektors merged with another local band, The Winstons, and formed The Valentines, in which Scott was co-lead singer with Vince Lovegrove. The Valentines recorded several songs written by George Young of The Easybeats including "Every Day I Have To Cry" which made the local top 5. In 1970, after gaining a place on the National Top 30 with their single "Juliette", the Valentines disbanded due to differing opinions within the band concerning musical direction, and also after a much-publicised drug scandal.

Scott moved to Adelaide in 1970 and joined the progressive rock band Fraternity. Fraternity released the LPs Livestock and Flaming Galah before touring the U.K. in 1971, where they changed their name to "Fang". During this time they played support slots for Status Quo and Geordie, whose front man, Brian Johnson, later succeeded Scott as the lead singer of AC/DC after his death.

In 1973, just after returning to Australia from another tour of the UK, Fraternity went on hiatus. In this period, Scott began singing in a band named "Mount Lofty Rangers" which was formed by other ex-Fraternity members. However, after leaving a rehearsal with Mount Lofty Rangers, Scott suffered serious injuries from a motorcycle accident and subsequently left the band. Fraternity however, later reformed and replaced Scott with Jimmy Barnes.

In 1974 Scott was working as a driver and general hand in Adelaide. He then met the touring members of AC/DC, including brothers Angus and Malcolm Young. At that time, AC/DC's lead singer was Dave Evans, but soon the Young brothers decided that Evans was not a suitable frontman for the group as they felt he was more of a glam rocker like Gary Glitter.[6] Scott, who had become the band's driver, expressed an interest in becoming their drummer, but the band kept telling him they didn't need a drummer, they needed a singer.

Bon Scott replaced Dave Evans as the lead singer of AC/DC in September 1974. With the Young brothers as lead and rhythm guitarists, drummer Tony Currenti (see AC/DC lineups) and George Young as a temporary bassist, AC/DC released High Voltage, their first LP in Australia in February 1975. Within a few months Currenti was replaced by Phil Rudd and Mark Evans was hired as a permanent bassist, and AC/DC began recording their second album T.N.T., which was released in Australia in December 1975. The first AC/DC album to gain international distribution was a compilation of tracks from the first two albums, also entitled High Voltage, and released in May 1976. Another studio album, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap was released in the same year, but only in Australia; the international version of the album was released in November 1976 in the U.K. and in March 1981 in the U.S., with a different tracklist [see Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (international album)].

In the following years, AC/DC gained further success with their albums Let There Be Rock and Powerage. The 1978 release of Powerage marked the debut of bassist Cliff Williams (who had replaced Mark Evans), and with its harder riffs, followed the blueprint set by Let There Be Rock. The album was the last produced by Harry Vanda and George Young with Bon Scott on vocals and is claimed to be AC/DC's most underrated album. Only one single was released for Powerage — "Rock 'n' Roll Damnation" — and gave AC/DC their highest chart position at the time, reaching #24. An appearance at the Apollo Theatre in Glasgow during the Powerage tour was recorded and released as If You Want Blood You've Got It.

The band's sixth album, Highway To Hell, was produced by Robert "Mutt" Lange and was released in 1979. It became AC/DC's first LP to break the U.S. top 100, eventually reaching #17, and it propelled AC/DC into the top ranks of hard rock acts.

On 19 February 1980, Bon Scott, who was only 33 at the time, passed out after a night of heavy drinking in a London club called MusicMachine (hosted at the Camden Palace, currently known as the KOKO). He was left to sleep in a car owned by an acquaintance named Alistair Kinnear, at 67 Overhill Road in East Dulwich, South London. The following afternoon, Kinnear found Scott lifeless, and alerted the authorities. Scott was rushed to King's College Hospital in Camberwell, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Although common folklore claims that ingestion of vomit or drugs were the cause of Scott's death, the official cause was listed as "acute alcohol poisoning" and "death by misadventure." Scott was cremated and his ashes were interred by his family in Fremantle, Western Australia, the area to which they had moved to when he was a boy.

Bon Scott's grave.

Inconsistencies in the official accounts of Scott's death have been cited in conspiracy theories, which suggest that Scott died of a heroin overdose, or was killed by exhaust fumes redirected into the car, or that Kinnear did not exist. Additionally, Scott was asthmatic, and the temperature was below freezing on the morning of his death.

Shortly after his death, AC/DC briefly considered quitting, but later felt that Scott would have wanted them to continue and hired Brian Johnson as the new vocalist. Angus Young stated in an interview with VH1 that Scott's mother, whom all the band members personally knew, heartily approved of the band continuing, and felt that it was the only way to properly remember her son and their bandmate. Five months after Scott's death, AC/DC recorded Back in Black as a tribute to him.

Scott's ashes were interred in Fremantle Cemetery and his grave site has become a cultural landmark; more than 28 years after Scott's death, the National Trust of Australia has decreed his grave important enough to be included on the list of classified heritage places. It is reportedly the most visited grave in Australia. On 9 July 2006, the plaque was stolen from the site on what would have been his 60th birthday.

AC/DC released a box set named Bonfire as a tribute to Scott on 18 November 1997. It contains four albums; a remastered version of Back in Black; a "rarities" album with alternate takes, outtakes, and stray live cuts, Volts; and two live albums, Live from the Atlantic Studios and Let There Be Rock: The Movie.

Live from the Atlantic Studios was recorded on December 7, 1977 at the Atlantic Studios in New York City.

Let There Be Rock: The Movie is a double album which was recorded on December 9, 1979 at the Pavillon de Paris in Paris, and was the soundtrack of the motion picture, AC/DC: Let There Be Rock.

AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. Members of Scott's family joined the band at the podium to accept the honour in his place.

In the July 2004 issue of UK magazine Classic Rock, Scott was rated as number one in a list of the "100 Greatest Frontmen," ahead of Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant.

In May 2006, the town of Kirriemuir in Scotland held a service and unveiled a Caithness stone slab commemorating the singer. A message was read from long time friend and fellow member of The Valentines, Vince Lovegrove in which he said:

The thing I loved most about Bon Scott was his almost unique self honesty. What you saw was what you got, he was a real person and as honest as the day is long.
To my mind he was the street poet of my generations and of the generations that followed.
On 24 February 2008, a bronze statue of Bon Scott was unveiled in Perth, Western Australia. The statue which portays Scott atop a Marshall amplifier was installed at Fremantle fishing boat harbour in October 2008.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:58
 

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