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Bon statue secret raises a smile with AC/DC fans

The Bon Scott statue in Kirriemuir
The Bon Scott statue in Kirriemuir

The ‘sculptor’s secret’ has been revealed in the wake of a staggeringly successful Bonfest weekend which thrust Kirriemuir to the centre of the international music map.

AC/DC fans from across the globe poured into the Angus town in their thousands for the tenth annual celebration of the band’s baker son frontman Bon Scott, with the unveiling of a statue near the town centre the highlight of the three-day festival.

Kim Cessford, The Courier - 30.04.16 - pictured in Bellies Brae Car Park, Kirriemuir at the Bonfest party to unveil Bon's statue - the unveiling party

Kirrie’s celebration of its famous son saw everything from a local interview broadcast live on Australia’s main television news channel to the rasping singer’s name making it the Long Way to the Top of the pulpit in the town’s Old Parish kirk in minister Malcolm Rooney’s Sunday sermon.

Amidst the packed programme of live music led by internationally renowned AC/DC tribute acts, the larger-than-life sized bronze of Bon – who died in 1980 after a night of heavy drinking aged just 33 – was the centrepiece of fan attention and is already the subject of countless photographs.

Depicting the rocker in a trademark tight-jeaned, waistcoat clad pose, the £50,000 sculpture was paid for by AC/DC fans from 32 nations after a successful crowdfunding campaign by Bonfest organisers DD8 Music.

The community music group commissioned Ayrshire sculptor and AC/DC fan John McKenna to create the statue, and he has now revealed the touch of artistic liberty taken in delivering the finished work.

Mr McKenna – whose other public artworks include statues of Celtic legends Jock Stein, Billy McNeil and Jimmy Johnstone as well as Wimbledon champion Dorothy Round Little – studied hundreds of images of Scott before producing the final design.

He revealed: “The one thing nobody really knows about the statue is that there is a little bit of an artistic anachronism about it.

“The Bon which most AC/DC fans recognise is the one I’ve created in the statue with the permed hair and waistcoat.

“But if you look closely he has cracked teeth and they were more from the earlier punk era. By the time the band were bigger and image was becoming more important, even in that era, Bon had his teeth fixed.

“So I decided to use a little artistic licence and I wonder if many fans will spot that.”

Mr McKenna made an emotional address to the huge crowd at Saturday’s ceremony, paying tribute to the fans and the DD8 Music effort to create the Angus statue.

Kirrie’s memorial will now undoubtedly become a must-visit attraction for diehard AC/DC fans and joins a similar memorial in Freemantle, Australia where Ronald Belford Scott emigrated with his family in 1956, later meeting the Glasgow-born Young brothers before embarking on the history-making journey with AC/DC.

Bon Scott.
Bon Scott.

Graham Galloway of DD8 Music said the 10th anniversary Bonfest had been a complete triumph – but not a surprise.

“We knew it was going to be incredible, we knew it was going to be huge and now the statue is here it will be bringing people from all over the world to Kirriemuir from now on,” he said.

“We have had nothing but positive comments about this weekend, there has been a great atmosphere with absolutely no trouble and the international publicity this has generated for the town and Angus is just amazing.

“DD8 Music have done this to remember Bon and support the town and the unveiling of the statue was a beautiful moment in our journey.”

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