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Bon Scott: Would AC/DC hero still have been rocking aged 75?

Bon Scott was the Kirriemuir boy who made it big in the world of rock and his legacy lives on to this day.
Bon Scott was the Kirriemuir boy who made it big in the world of rock and his legacy lives on to this day.

Bon Scott was the bourbon-swilling leader of hard rock band AC/DC who would have turned 75 today.

The star grew up in Kirriemuir where father Charles “Chick” Scott worked in the family bakery in Bank Street.

In 1952, when Scott was six, the family emigrated to Melbourne, Australia.

The rest is history.

Malcolm Young, Mark Evans, Angus Young and Bon Scott and Phil Rudd of AC/DC in 1976.

Scott replaced Dave Evans as the lead singer of AC/DC on October 24 1974.

And it was thanks to Scott’s hard-living reputation and rebellious attitude that the band cemented itself as a wild, raucous rock group, commanding the adoration and attention of millions of fans.

Scott brought his attitude into AC/DC and it stuck.

The band’s album Highway to Hell broke the US Top 100 chart in 1979, making AC/DC a major act almost overnight.

Scott died in London in 1980

However, the stress of a heavy touring schedule began to take its toll.

Scott was in London in February 1980 working on the upcoming Back in Black album when he died after a night of wild partying.

AC/DC had to pick up the pieces and move on.

He was replaced by Brian Johnson and AC/DC continued to enjoy success, especially upon the release of Back in Black, which debuted just five months after Scott’s death.

Ultimately, the album would end up being a tribute to Scott.

The lyrics in Back in Black: “Forget the hearse ‘cause I never die”, imply that he will live on forever through his music.

So what might Scott be doing if he were still around today?

Would he still have been rocking at 75?

Bon Scott performing at Wembley Stadium in 1976.

“Absolutely, I have no doubt about this,” said John Crawford, chairman of BonFest, the annual celebration of Kirriemuir’s rock god son which takes place in the town.

“Bon loved the stage and his music and would have most certainly carried on as long as he could have.

“Looking at AC/DC themselves and the Rolling Stones, they are both going strong and but for the current Covid pandemic, I am sure AC/DC would currently be on tour with their Power album.”

Taken far too young

Would he still have been AC/DC singer?

“Who can say for sure,” said John.

“They were just breaking into the big time when Bon sadly passed, and in my heart I would like to think he would have stayed with the boys, but strange things happen in all walks of life so who knows?

“He was most certainly taken far too young and he had so much more to give.

“Unlike other legends like Rory Gallagher who knew what genre of music was his, Bon only had around  years singing rock and blues tunes with AC/DC.

“Prior to that his time with The Spektors and the Valentines was more bubble gum pop before moving onto progressive rock band called Fraternity, so Bon’s music genres were still evolving but I feel his niche was most definitely with AC/DC.”

What was Scott’s legacy?

“His songs and the lyrical genius that went into them,” said John.

“You really need to read the lyrics to see how good Bon was at combining his life experiences with rock ‘n’ roll.

“His songs have never aged and its because of this the music is as fresh today as it was 40 years ago.

“It’s great seeing young people listening to the music of AC/DC from the Bon era and attending rock festivals such as BonFest to keep his memory alive.”

Oldest rockers in town

Scott on stage at 75 would have been part of the original generation of rock ‘n’ rollers who still remain more interesting than modern stars.

Rolling Stone Mick Jagger is now 77.

Yet he and his band are still performing.

Roger Daltrey is also 77 and still going strong with The Who.

AC/DC at Pinewood studios in 1976.

DJ and broadcaster Jim Gellatly thinks Scott would have joined the oldest rockers in town if things had turned out differently.

“You’d like to think so wouldn’t you?” he said.

“Maybe he still is in some other place!

“It would have been a crazy thought in 1980 but little did we know others would still be rocking into their 70s.”

Would he still have been AC/DC’s singer?

“Possibly not, but we’ll never know,” said Jim.

“It’s an incredible legacy he left, and a further question would be whether Back In Black would have had the same impact were it not for his passing?

“Then again the records he actually contributed to still stand the test of time.

“An early death means a career can’t go sour.

“‘Sad but true’ to quote another iconic band.

“Do we undersell his talents? Certainly not. His raspy, gritty vocals are a blueprint for many a rock band. It’s a legacy that can never be underestimated.”

Bon Scott enjoying a drink at the height of his success with AC/DC.

Scott’s memory remains alive and well in Kirriemuir.

The idea of a more permanent memorial arose from BonFest and Scottish artist John McKenna was contracted to create a statue of Scott.

Kirriemuir tribute

The life-sized bronze figure, on Bellies Brae, was unveiled in 2016, at the 10th anniversary of the festival by former AC/DC bass player Mark Evans.

The £45,000 cost of the sculpture was paid for by a crowdfunding campaign.

The statue depicts Scott, in sleeveless denim jacket and tight trousers, clutching a set of bagpipes – the instrument he played on the group’s song It’s a Long Way to the Top.

Jim said: “Bon put Kirrie on the map.

“Like another figure immortalised with a statue in the town, he sadly never got to grow up.”

The closest Scott got to playing live in Kirriemuir before his untimely death in 1980 was a gig with AC/DC at Dundee’s Caird Hall in 1978.

Tickets were £2.50 and many fans were delighted when they got to meet their idols in person backstage.

Special Dundee gig memories

Some were even lucky enough to share Scott’s bottle of whisky!

Dundee pals Ross Niven and Sam McMillan were among those at the gig.

“Bon was a really nice bloke and talked about Kirriemuir and gave me a swig from his bottle of whisky!” recalls Ross.

Meanwhile, Sam, a photographer who left Dundee in 1980 and now lives in Edinburgh, says the concert was “high energy” with Angus Young bobbing non-stop and totally lost in the music.

Bon Scott never forgot his Angus upbringing when he hit the big time.

When Sam met Scott, who he describes as a “lively character”, he mentioned his girlfriend’s parents lived in Kirriemuir.

“Bon asked me if you could still get the Forfar Bridies that he used to have as a kid before going to Australia!” he added.

“He had very positive memories of living in Kirrie, and was very friendly and chatty, with a great sense of humour.

“The first time I tasted whisky was from a bottle that he had with him and freely shared.

“It was such a tragedy that he died less than two years later.”

Gone, yes; but never forgotten.

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