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"
February 18, 2010, 5 years ago
By "Metal" Tim Henderson
30 years ago - on February 19, 1980 - we lost one of hard rock's most distinct and charismatic frontmen. AC/DC singer Bon Scott (born Ronald Belford Scott on July 9, 1946) died in the wee hours of the night in the back seat of a friend's car following a typical night of heavy drinking in London, England. His death comes just months after the band scores its first big North American success with the album, Highway To Hell. He was 33 years old, but his memory and musical prowess rides on. AC/DC founders/guitarists/brothers Angus and Malcolm Young tell BraveWords.com the tale of a 'rocker' and a dearly missed older brother.
Bon's influence today...
Angus: "I think it's just something that is part of you. It's like you lost someone close to you, in your family or a very close friend. You've always got that feeling they're there but you just, I suppose, miss them in the physical sense. There's always memories that keep coming back to you, and it doesn't matter what the situation is. You could be traveling, you could be relaxing somewhere, or going to play or being in the studio, there's always something that reminds you."
After Bon's death...
Malcolm: "Should you carry on with the name? All sorts of thoughts went through our minds. We were just sittin' around not doing anything because of respect too, you know, and not knowing and not caring. We just got a hold of each other one day and just said 'Look, we've come up with lots of music before Bon died, so why don't we just get together and sit down and at least... at least we can do something, we can play guitar.' So we did that and a lot of good music came from that period because something kicked in there. We didn't have to do it, but inside there was stuff coming out that probably wouldn't have ever appeared. It made us grow up really quick I think."
Angus. "Even Bon himself, just before he died, he'd come down with me and Mal, he got behind the kit and Mal said to him 'Ah Bon!, get on the drums, we need a drummer', and that's what he loved. Bon wanted to be the drummer in the band. It was kind of funny, the first time we ever sat down, here's this guy saying, 'I'm your new drummer.' Mal convinced him to sing, to get up to the front of the stage. Then he was there at the end again. The last you saw him, there he was behind the kit. He played the intro to one of the tracks. It turned out it wasn't one of the greatest songs but the intro was great - 'Let Me Put My Love Into You' - just the intro of it before it goes into Mutt Lang territory. It was fuckin' good before then (laughs)!"
Angus: "I remember the first time I had ever heard Brian's (Johnson) name was from Bon. Bon had mentioned that he had been in England once touring with a band and he had mentioned that Brian had been in a band called Geordie and Bon had said 'Brian Johnson, he was a great rock and roll singer in the style of LITTLE RICHARD.' And that was Bon's big idol, Little Richard. I think when he saw Brian at that time, to Bon it was 'Well he's a guy that knows what rock and roll is all about.' He mentioned that to us in Australia. I suppose when we decided to continue, Brian was the first name that Malcolm and myself came up with, so we said we should see if we can find him."
Bon and Brian...
Angus: "Well, as a band the musical side of AC/DC is how I always relate for myself. I never really compare them because they're both unique characters. Brian, at the time, had big shoes to fill. He's certainly done that and more so they've both got their own unique characters but they both have similarities which in AC/DC we all share. All of our backgrounds are pretty much the same, we all come from working class families, we all have the wit that seems to sustain us when things are a bit tough."
Back In Black...
Angus: "We had a lot of ideas even from touring on Highway To Hell that we felt we should finish off what we had been working on. You never know, we could have said 'This is it.' We may have stopped, but we still felt that we should have finished off, hence even the cover of Back In Black. You can see it, we made it in black for the colour, called it Back In Black, and even put the bell on the front. Obviously it was different after Bon death. I suppose to some people they would have probably viewed you as a whole new act, and in one way it was like starting again because you don't know what's coming, you don't know how it's going to be received. You think, 'Is this ethical?' This was our tribute to Bon."
Working with producer John 'Mutt' Lange on Highway To Hell...
Angus: "Well with Mutt it was the first time he had ever worked with us, and I don't even think at that point that he had even had a big album, a big success. I think he'd had a few single successes in this part of the world but he hadn't had a major album and for us it was our first time really working with someone else as a producer. But we felt it was a good combination because we had wanted to try a few different things. Up until that point we had made a lot more in your face rock and roll and we wanted to try a couple of medium style rock tracks."
Angus: "Well you stuck to your guns. There was a bit of a worry, especially the title, Highway To Hell. They were a bit worried, especially from the American south as to whether it would be played. But we had said 'You know this is what we called it and this is what we like' and so we stuck to our guns. And it's funny enough, all those southern states were the first ones to play it!"
Highway To Hell being the peak of Bon's career...
Angus: "Yeah, I suppose for Bon it was probably. The guy was full of life, and then he had the tragedy. When I think back in hindsight, he was a guy that I always knew was full of life."
Early North American releases out of order...
Angus: "It was because we had played most of Europe, we had played most of Britain and a lot of other countries around that area. We came to America the first time in mid- '77, and at the time they had released our first album, High Voltage, and what they had done was taken our first two Australian releases (High Voltage - 1974 and TNT - 1975) and put them together. They had signed us in '76, so our record company felt if they put a combination of those two records together it would be a good introduction. That's how that came about. Then we released the album Dirty Deeds for the European side of the world. We had just finished recording Let There Be Rock so the North Americans said 'We want what's current, so we'll have Let There Be Rock.' It was a bit strange, but they felt that they wanted the current thing and they felt it would be great because they knew we were going to be touring in the summer for the first time so they wanted a good strong introduction. And for us it was a good thing too because we were very proud of the Let There Be Rock album, especially Malcolm and myself because for the first time we could really feature the guitars."
We miss you Bon!
(Thanks Wikipedia for photo of Bon Scott's grave in Fremantle Cemetery, Australia)
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