Thursday, February 18, 2010

RIP: Bon Scott (1946-1980)

Ian, an Acca Dacca fan from way back, sent a message that February 19 will be the anniversary of the death of former lead singer Bon Scott and that a Bytes should be considered for that date. It is impressive, almost rivalling Rock Brain of the Universe Glenn A Baker, that someone not only recalls Bon Scott and his death but that they also know the exact date of death from memory. Such a depth of knowledge shows that he is either a dedicated AC/DC fan or that he needs to get out more. I mean, it’s not like knowing that the day the music died was 3 February 1959, or that the candle in the wind went out on 5 August 1962.

Before looking at the life and death of Bon Scott, take the time to view Bon Scott and AC/DC members Malcolm Young and Angus Young, and watch Scott turn the bagpipes into a rock n roll instrument long before Steve Earle and Johnny Farnham did so. The video is from 1976 and shows the AC/DC crew on the back of a truck driving around Swanston Street, Melbourne, singing a rock classic, the original video for It’s a Long way to the Top, made for the Oz TV show Countdown

Bon Scott:

- Ronald Belford Scott (9 July 1946 – 19 February 1980) was born in Scotland and came to Melbourne with his family when he was six.

- He attended the local primary school in Sunshine, where there was already a kid in class named Ronald. Because our Ronald had only just arrived from Bonnie Scotland, he was dubbed “Bon” and the name stuck.

- In 1956 the family moved to Fremantle in WA where Bon joined the Fremantle Scots Pipe Band, learning the drums.

- At age 15 he dropped out of school and ran foul of the law: 9 months in Riverbank Juvenile Institution for giving the police a false name, escaping custody, unlawful carnal knowledge and stealing petrol. He was rejected by the Army as being “socially maladjusted”.

- In 1964 Bon formed his first band, The Spektors, in which he was the drummer and part time lead singer. This band merged with The Winstons to become The Valentines, in which he was the co-lead singer, but it disbanded in 1970 after minor success. Bon then moved to Adelaide and joined Fraternity, which toured England in 1971 where they changed their name to Fang. In England they were the support act for Status Quo and Geordie, whose lead singer ironically was Brian Johnson.

- In 1973 Scott began singing with the Mount Lofty Rangers with other Fraternity members. He left the band after he stacked his bike following rehearsals, suffering serious injuries. Scott was replaced by Jimmy Barnes.

- Working as a driver in Adelaide, he became the driver for AC/DC, which included Angus and Malcolm Young. At the time AC/DC was fronted by Dave Evans, whose style was sometimes compared to Gary Glitter. Scott repeatedly asked to be considered becoming part of the group as a drummer, which was repeatedly refused on the basis that they wanted a replacement lead singer, not a drummer.

- In September 1974 Scott replaced Dave Evans and in February 1975 AC/DC released their first album in Australia, High Voltage. Local success was followed by international success as new albums were released.

- On 19 February 1980, Bon Scott, aged 33, was found dead in his car in South London. He had spent the night drinking with Alistair Kinnear, who had left him in the car to sleep it off. Official cause of death was suffocation from vomit and acute alcohol poisoning. He was cremated and his ashes interred in Fremantle by his family.

- The other members of AC/DC considered whether to disband but continued after they decided that Scott would have wanted them to go on. Scott’s family gave their blessing to that decision and Brian Johnson became the new lead singer.

- Five months after Scott's death, AC/DC recorded Back in Black as a tribute to him with two tracks from the album, Hells Bells and Back in Black dedicated to his memory.

- Scott’s signature song, It’s a Long Way to the Top, is not sung by Brian Johnson as a mark of respect to his predecessor.

- Bon Scott's grave has become the most visited grave in Australia, prompting the National Trust to give it a heritage listing.

 In an act of bastardry in 2006, someone stole the plaque from the grave.

(Click on photo to enlarge).

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