The inside story on AC/DC's "hippy seer" frontman

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We look back at the life of AC/DC’s former frontman Bon Scott in this piece taken from Uncut’s December 2013 issue (Take 199). A street poet who’d been inside for ‘carnal knowledge’? A teenybop idol and hippy seer? A tearaway who swam with jellyfish and rode motorbikes naked? “A fantastic guy, a real human, so different to what people thought…” Words: Peter Watts

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Peter Head remembers an unexpected visit from Bon Scott, one evening at his home in Adelaide. As Head tells it, Scott turned up unannounced on his doorstep. The two men had been friends since 1970, when they had both played in local bands in the thriving Adelaide rock scene. Nine years later, and Scott had become a major star as the bare-chested, full-throated, heavy-drinking singer with AC/DC, Australia’s biggest group. The band’s latest album, Highway To Hell, was in the charts, but Scott was taking time out to catch up with some old friends. “He bought the drinks all night,” says Head. “He was happy, but said he wanted to settle down and have kids one day, even though he had finally found a band that allowed him to make music, make money and have fun. We were woken up the next morning… I was in bed with one woman and he was across the room with another. He leapt up saying, ‘Oh shit, I’ve got to catch a plane,’ and ran out the door. That was it.”

This was the last time Head saw his old friend alive: within months, Scott was dead. The singer, who for years had taken any job going just to stay afloat, died just as AC/DC, the band he joined in 1974, were on the verge of international success. With Scott as their singer, the band had gained a reputation as the ultimate party band, writing songs that were innuendo-laden and musically forthright. But that was only part of their story: a product of the raucous Sydney pub scene in the early ’70s, AC/DC’s early output shared common ground with Creedence, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Stones. Then, in February 1980, as they prepared to record Back In Black, Scott died from alcohol poisoning in the passenger seat of a Renault 5 outside a flat in East Dulwich. “The way Bon lived, it wasn’t a surprise,” says AC/DC bassist Mark Evans. “But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an awful shock.”

“We all miss him terribly,” Angus Young told Uncut. “It’s rare that you come across someone in your life with such a big character. He’ll always be with you.”

  1. 1. Introduction
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  • Allen James

    Bon Scott had so much personality in his songs, and there will never be another one to match the charactor he had!