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Bon Scott

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Title: Bon Scott  
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Subject: AC/DC, AC/DC/Selected biography, Iris (Romanian band), AC/DC: Let There Be Rock, AC/DC discography
Collection: 1946 Births, 1980 Deaths, 20Th-Century Australian Singers, Ac/Dc Members, Accidental Deaths in England, Alcohol-Related Deaths in England, Australian Male Singers, Australian Multi-Instrumentalists, Australian Rock Singers, Australian Songwriters, Burials at Fremantle Cemetery, Musicians from Western Australia, Naturalised Citizens of Australia, People Educated at John Curtin College of the Arts, People from Fremantle, People from Kirriemuir, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, Scottish Emigrants to Australia
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Bon Scott

Bon Scott
Scott in the 1970s
Background information
Birth name Ronald Belford Scott
Also known as Bon Scott
Born (1946-07-09)9 July 1946
Forfar, Angus,
Scotland, UK
Origin Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia
Died 19 February 1980(1980-02-19) (aged 33)
East Dulwich, London,
England, UK
Genres Rock and roll, blues rock, hard rock
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1964–1980
Associated acts AC/DC, Fraternity, The Valentines, The Spektors

Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott (9 July 1946 – 19 February 1980) was a Scottish-born Australian 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.[1] He was born in Forfar and lived in Kirriemuir, Scotland, for 5 years before moving to Melbourne, Australia, with his family in 1952 at the age of six. The family lived in the suburb of Sunshine for four years before moving to Fremantle, Western Australia.[1]

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.[1]

In the July 2004 issue of Classic Rock, Scott was rated as number one in a list of the "100 Greatest Frontmen Of All Time" ahead of Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant.[2] Hit Parader ranked Scott as fifth on their 2006 list of the 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Vocalists of all time.[3]

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 out 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.[1]


  • Biography 1
    • 1946–64: Early Years 1.1
    • 1964–70:The Spektors and The Valentines 1.2
    • 1970–74: Fraternity 1.3
    • 1974–80: AC/DC 1.4
    • 19 February 1980: Death 1.5
  • Legacy 2
  • References 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


1946–64: Early Years

Ronald Belford Scott was born on 9 July 1946 at the Fyfe Jamieson Maternity Hospital, Forfar, Scotland to Charles Belford "Chick" Scott (d. 1999) and Isabelle Cunningham "Isa" Mitchell (1917–2011), and grew up in Kirriemuir. A younger brother Derek was born in 1949.[1] The Scott family emigrated from Scotland to Australia in 1952 where they initially lived in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine, attending nearby Sunshine Primary School.[1] A second brother, Graeme, was born in 1953. Bon was the oldest of Derek, Graeme, and Valerie. Bon did have an older brother born before him named Sandy Scott, but he died shortly after birth.[1]

In 1956, the family moved to Fremantle, Western Australia, and Scott joined the associated Fremantle Scots Pipe Band, learning the drums.[1] Scott attended North Fremantle Primary School and later John Curtin College of the Arts until he dropped out 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.[1] He attempted to join the Australian Army but was rejected for being deemed "socially maladjusted."[4]

1964–70:The Spektors and The Valentines

Scott's vocals were inspired by his idol, The Easybeats. "Every Day I Have to Cry" (a song originally written and sung by Arthur Alexander) made the local top 5.[1] In 1970, after gaining a place on the National Top 30 with their single "Juliette", the Valentines disbanded due to artistic differences after a much-publicised drug scandal.[7]

1970–74: Fraternity

Scott moved to Adelaide in 1970 and joined the progressive rock band Fraternity. Fraternity released the LPs Livestock and Flaming Galah before touring the UK in 1973, where they changed their name to "Fang". During this time they played support slots for Status Quo and Geordie, whose front man, Brian Johnson, became the lead singer of AC/DC after Scott's death.[1] During this time, on 24 January 1972, Scott married Irene Thornton.[8]

In 1973, just after returning to Australia from the tour of the UK, Fraternity went on hiatus. Scott took a day job at the Wallaroo fertiliser plant and began singing with the Mount Lofty Rangers, a loose collective of musicians helmed by Peter Head (né Beagley) from Headband, who explains "Headband and Fraternity were in the same management stable and we both split about the same time so the logical thing was to take members from both bands and create a new one ... the purpose of the band was for songwriters to relate to each other and experiment with songs, so it was a hotbed of creativity".[9] Other ex-Fraternity members also played with the band as did Glen Shorrock pre Little River Band. During this time, Head also helped Scott with his original compositions.

Vince Lovegrove said "Bon would go to Peter's home after a day (of literally) shovelling shit, and show him musical ideas he had had during his day's work. Bon's knowledge of the guitar was limited, so Peter began teaching him how to bridge chords and construct a song. One of the songs from these sessions was a ballad called "Clarissa", about a local Adelaide girl. Another was the country-tinged Bin Up in the Hills Too Long, which for me was a sign of things to come with Bon's lyrics; simple, clever, sardonic, tongue-in-cheek ..."[10]

In return, Scott recorded vocals for Mount Lofty Rangers songs "Round & Round" and "Carey Gully".[11] Head released these original recordings in 1996, also teaming up with producer Ted Yanni, another old friend of Scott's, to create an entirely new backing for Round & Round & Round that more accurately reflected the original intentions Head had. Long out of print, and massively bootlegged, this EP finally got an official digital release in June 2010. Unrecorded original compositions of Scott's, "Been Up In The Hills Too Long" and "Clarissa" have been recorded by Head on his Peter Head & The Mount Lofty Rangers "Lofty" album, also released in digital format only in 2011.

"About 11 pm on 3 May 1974, at the Old Lion Hotel in North Adelaide, during a rehearsal with the Mount Lofty Rangers, a very drunk, distressed and belligerent Bon Scott had a raging argument with a member of the band. Bon stormed out of the venue, threw a bottle of Jack Daniels on to the ground, then screamed off on his Suzuki 550 motorbike."[10] Scott suffered serious injuries from the ensuing motorcycle accident, spending three days in a coma and a further 18 days in hospital. Vince Lovegrove and his wife, by then running a booking/management agency, gave Scott odd jobs, such as putting up posters and painting the office during his recovery, and shortly after introduced him to AC/DC who were on the lookout for a new lead singer.[7]

"There was a young, dinky little glam band from Sydney that we both loved called AC/DC ... Before another AC/DC visit, George Young phoned me and said the band was looking for a new singer. I immediately told him that the best guy for the job was Bon. George responded by saying Bon's accident would not allow him to perform, and that maybe he was too old. Nevertheless I had a meeting with Malcolm and Angus, and suggested Bon as their new singer. They asked me to bring him out to the Pooraka Hotel that night, and to come backstage after the show. When he watched the band, Bon was impressed, and he immediately wanted to join them, but thought they may be a bit too inexperienced and too young. After the show, backstage, Bon expressed his doubts about them being "able to rock". The two Young brothers told Bon he was "too old to rock". The upshot was that they had a jam session that night in the home of Bon's former mentor, Bruce Howe, and at the end of the session, at dawn, it was obvious that AC/DC had found a new singer. And Bon had found a new band."[10]

Like Scott, Malcolm Young and his younger brother Angus Young of AC/DC were born in Scotland before emigrating to Australia in their childhood with their family.

Fraternity later reformed and replaced Scott with Jimmy Barnes.

1974–80: AC/DC

Bon Scott in Grenoble, 10 December 1979
Bon Scott (centre) pictured with guitarist Angus Young (left) and bassist Cliff Williams (back), performing at the Ulster Hall in August 1979

Scott replaced Dave Evans as the lead singer of AC/DC on 24 October 1974, when it became obvious the band and Evans were heading in different directions, with Evans having personal clashes with band members and management.[12]

With the Young brothers as lead and rhythm guitarists, session drummer Tony Currenti (see High Voltage, their first LP in Australia in 1975.[13] 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 however was a compilation of tracks from the first two albums, also entitled High Voltage, which was 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 UK and in March 1981 in the U.S., with a different track listing.

In the following years, AC/DC gained further success with their albums

External links

  • .  
  • Stenning, Paul (2005), AC/DC – Two Sides to Every Glory, Chrome Dreams, .  
  • .  
  • .  


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Wall, Mick (2012). AC/DC: Hell Aint a Bad Place to Be. London: Orion Publishing group.  
  2. ^ a b "The 100 Greatest Frontmen". Classic Rock (July 2004).
  3. ^ Heavy Metal's All-Time Top 100 Vocalists Retrieved 12 May 2011
  4. ^ (Walker 1994, p. 39)
  5. ^ """AC/DC Guitarist Angus Young Remembers Bon Scott – "When I Think Back In Hindsight, He Was A Guy That I Always Knew Was Full Of Life. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  6. ^ (Walker 1994, p. 32)
  7. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Bon Scott Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 August 2008. 
  8. ^ "Bon's Story". Bon Scott fans. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  9. ^ Smith, Michael 'A Little Bit Of Head Music' Drum Media, 28 Jan 1997
  10. ^ a b c AC/DC's Vince Lovegrove recalls how he took on Bon Scott The Advertiser, 21 November 2008, at AdelaideNow
  11. ^ Coupe, Stuart, Bon Comes Round Again. In Press Magazine, 16 October 1996
  12. ^ (Stenning 2005, p. 34)
  13. ^ "High Voltage". Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  14. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "AC/DC – Powerage". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 August 2008. 
  15. ^ Christopher, Michael (30 June 2003). "Epic Records AC/DC Re-issues: Second Wave".  
  16. ^ "Timeline". AC/DC official website. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  17. ^ Engleheart, Murray (1997). AC/DC: Bonfire. New York: Eastwest Records America.  
  18. ^ Weather report.
  19. ^ "Scott [had] choked on his own vomit [in his sleep]." Back in Black 1980, 2003 CD booklet.
  20. ^ a b Jinman, Richard (19 February 2005). "25 years on, AC/DC fans recall how wild rocker met his end". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 7 August 2008. 
  21. ^ Scott's death certificate.
  22. ^ "In memoriam Desmond C. Henley". Internet. Christopher Henley Limited 2008 - 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2014. 
  23. ^ a b "Bon's Highway leads to the National Trust". Metropolitan Cemeteries Board. 15 February 2006. Retrieved 7 August 2008. 
  24. ^ Stevenson, Jane (22 November 1997). "AC/DC lights a Bonfire in tribute".  
  25. ^ Engleheart, Murray; Durieux, Arnaud (2006). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll: The Ultimate Story of the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band. New York: Harper Collins.  
  26. ^ Laurie, Tiffany (15 February 2006). "Grave News is Great News for Scott fans".  
  27. ^ "AC/DC agnostic celebrates the ultimate live wire". Sydney Morning Herald. 14 May 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2008. 
  28. ^ "Bon's Story". Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  29. ^ "Bon Scott's Grave Plaque Stolen". 10 July 2006. 
  30. ^ "Boxsets". AC/DC discography. Retrieved 7 August 2008. 
  31. ^ "AC/DC".  
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Town's tribute to AC/DC front man". BBC News. 7 May 2006. Retrieved 7 August 2008. 
  34. ^ "Kirriemuir salutes rock star legend".  
  35. ^ "Bon Scott statue to be unveiled in Perth".  


Scott is the subject of three books, Clinton Walker’s biography Highway to Hell (1994), his ex-wife Irene Thornton’s My Bon Scott (2014), and the variously-authored Live Wire (2015).

A bronze statue of Scott was unveiled at Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour in Western Australia on 24 February 2008.[35] The statue portrays Scott atop a Marshall amplifier.

Kirriemuir hosts an annual festival known as 'Bonfest' as a tribute to Bon Scott and AC/DC. It was originally held in July on the weekend closest to his birthday but recently moved to May because of other events in the local area during July.

More recently a new street in Kirriemuir has been named after Scott.

ACDC Lane is a street in the central business district of Melbourne. It was renamed on 1 October 2004 as a tribute to AC/DC. The trademark lightning bolt or slash ("/") used to separate the AC and the DC in the band's name contravened the naming policy of the Office of the Registrar of Geographic Names, so the punctuation was omitted on the street sign. Melbourne's Lord Mayor John So launched ACDC Lane with the words, "As the song says, there is a highway to hell, but this is a laneway to heaven. Let us rock." Bagpipers then played "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)." Those were all songs from Bon Scott era. The lane contains a rock 'n' roll nightclub called the Cherry Bar.

On 6 May 2006, the town of Kirriemuir in Scotland held a service and unveiled a Caithness stone slab commemorating the singer.[33] A message was read from long-time friend and fellow member of The Valentines, Vince Lovegrove in which he said:

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.[2]

In 2004 the song "Highway to Hell" that Scott co-wrote with Malcolm and Angus Young ranked 254 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

In 2003 Scott's final studio album with AC/DC, 1979's Highway to Hell ranked 199 on Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".

In 2003, Scott was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of AC/DC[31] with his nephews present to accept the honour in his place.[32]

Let There Be Rock: The Movie is a double album which was recorded on 9 December 1979 at the Pavillon de Paris in Paris, and was the soundtrack of the motion picture, AC/DC: Let There Be Rock.[30]

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

The French rock band Trust wrote their hit song "Ton dernier acte" ("Your last act") in memory of Scott in 1980. German hard rock band Kingdom Come wrote and recorded a song titled "Bon Scott" for their album, Ain't Crying for the Moon, as a tribute to the former AC/DC frontman. Romanian hard rock group Iris recorded the song Ultimul mic dejun al lui Bon (Bon's Last Breakfast) as a tribute to Bon Scott, released on their 1997 album Lună plină.

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.

Statue of Bon Scott, Fremantle, Western Australia


His grave site has become a cultural landmark; more than 28 years after Scott's death, the National Trust of Australia decreed his grave important enough to be included on the list of classified heritage places.[23][26] It is reportedly the most visited grave in Australia.[27] On 7 July 2006, to mark his 60th birthday, the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board completed refurbishments on the Bon Scott Grave Area. This consisted of a Bon Scott Arch and Memorial Entrance gate off Carrington Street in the north-west corner of Fremantle Cemetery.[28] On 9 July 2006, 60 years to the day from Scott's birth, the bronze plaque was stolen from the site.[29]

Shortly after Scott's death, the remaining members of AC/DC briefly considered quitting, however, it was eventually decided that Scott would have wanted them to continue and after the encouragement of Bon's family that they continue, the band hired Brian Johnson as the new vocalist.[25] Five months after Scott's death, AC/DC finished the work they began with Scott and released Back in Black as a tribute to him with two tracks from the album, "Hells Bells" and "Back in Black", dedicated to his memory.

Inconsistencies in media accounts of Scott's death (incorrect spelling of Alistair Kinnear's first name, among others) have been cited in conspiracy theories, which suggest that Scott was killed by exhaust fumes redirected into the car, or that Kinnear did not exist.[20] Additionally, Scott was asthmatic, and the temperature was below freezing on the morning of his death.[24]

On 15 February 1980 Scott attended a session where Malcolm and Angus Young were working on the beginnings of two songs that would later be recorded on the Back in Black album; "Have a Drink On Me" and "Let Me Put My Love Into You" with Scott accompanying on drums rather than singing or writing lyrics.[1] On 19 February 1980, Scott, 33, passed out after a night of heavy drinking in a London club called the Music Machine (currently known as the KOKO). He was left to sleep in a Renault 5 owned by an acquaintance named Alistair Kinnear, at 67 Overhill Road in East Dulwich, South London.[18] 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. It has been contended that pulmonary aspiration of vomit was the cause of Scott's death,[19] but the official cause was listed on the death certificate as "acute alcohol poisoning" and classified as "death by misadventure".[20][21] As part of the funeral arrangements, Scott's body was embalmed by Desmond Henley;[22] it was later cremated and Scott's ashes were interred by his family at Fremantle Cemetery in Fremantle, Western Australia.[23]

67 Overhill Road, East Dulwich, London, the site of Bon Scott's death
Bon Scott's grave
Death certificate of Bon Scott

19 February 1980: Death

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.[16][17]

[15].If You Want Blood You've Got It tour was recorded and released as Powerage in Glasgow during the Apollo Theatre" – and gave AC/DC their highest chart position at the time, reaching #24. An appearance at the Rock 'n' Roll Damnation – "Powerage Only one single was released for [14]

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