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Bon Scott

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Bon Scott
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

On 19th Feb 1980, Bon Scott, singer of AC/DC, was pronounced dead on arrival at a London hospital after a heavy night’s drinking. Scott was found in the passenger seat of a friend’s parked car in East Dulwich, South London. The official coroner’s report stated that he had drunk himself to death, eventually “suffocating on his own vomit.”

It’s a tough call knowing which way to turn after you lose your friend and band member. Zeppelin decided to call it a day after the death of their drummer John Bonham, who was found dead at guitarist Jimmy Page’s house during band rehearsals. Jimi Hendrix went in a similar way, as have many other musicians. 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, which just shows how much respect and admiration Scott has gained over the years since his untimely demise.

Like his future bandmates Angus and Malcolm Young, Scott was born in Scotland; his family emigrated to Australia in 1952 along with thousands of other Brits who were tempted by a new life down under. The Scotts settled in Freemantle in Western Australia. His father, who worked as a baker, was also a keen piper and through this a young Scott started his musical career as a drummer in a bagpipe band. He continued with this until he was 17 when he won a Novice Champion for his drumming.

After working as a postman, bartender, and truck packer, Scott formed his first band, The Spektors, in 1964 where he played drums and also sang. A couple of years later he formed The Valentines who had a local hit with a song called “Every Day I Have To Cry”. During this period, The Valentines supported The Easybeats, where Bon met George Young, the elder brother of Angus and Malcolm Young, whom he would later join in AC/DC.

Scott’s next group, Fraternity, found themselves opening shows for British groups Deep Purple, Free, and Black Sabbath as they toured Australia. Bon’s life as a musician was taking shape. In 1972 he toured the UK where they opened for Status Quo. The Oz band changed their name to Fang where they also found themselves supporting Geordie, who ironically featured singer Brian Johnson. Two years later and back in Australia, Scott was offered the job as lead singer with AC/DC who had just sacked their singer.

During the next four years AC/DC worked nonstop, sometimes playing three gigs in one day. The group played everywhere and anywhere in Australia as well as touring Europe and the US, gaining cult status as one of the best new hard rock bands on the planet. Their 1979 album Highway to Hell reached the top 20 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.

Scott, who was just 33 at the time, passed out after a night of heavy drinking at the Music Machine in London. He was left to sleep in a Renault 5 owned by his friend Alistair Kinnear, at 67 Overhill Road in East Dulwich, South London. 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. Pulmonary aspiration of vomit was the cause of Scott’s death, and the official cause was listed as “acute alcohol poisoning” and “death by misadventure.” Scott was cremated and his ashes were interred by his family at Fremantle Cemetery in Fremantle, Western Australia.

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 third best-selling album in history, behind Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Scott never saw or enjoyed the success that AC/DC went on to achieve, unlike Hendrix, Morrison, and Bonham, who all died too young, but lived long enough to enjoy some fame and fortune. Mr Scott, we salute you.

Important Dates In The Life Of AC/DC:

On this day in music
3 Sep 2022
The Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert was held in London, England. Sir Paul McCartney, Queen and AC/DC were among the rock royalty to pay tribute at Wembley; while Liam Gallagher opened the show with a fitting rendition of Oasis's 'Rock And Roll Star'. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl choked back tears as he played the band's first show since the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins in March of this year. The star was singing 'Times Like These' when he paused to collect his emotions on the lyric: "It's times like these you learn to love again."
15 Sep 2019
The Cook Islands, a nation in the South Pacific, released two silver coins to honour two classic AC/DC albums. The band’s landmark 1981 album ‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)’ was honoured on a two dollar coin while 1990’s ‘The Razors Edge’ could be found on a ten dollar coin. Both feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the reverse side.
18 Nov 2017
Australian musician and songwriter Malcolm Young died age 64. Young was best known as a co-founder, rhythm guitarist, backing vocalist and songwriter for AC/DC. Except for a brief absence in 1988, he was with the band from its November 1973 beginning until retiring permanently in 2014. Young was born in 1953 in Glasgow before his family emigrated to Australia when he was 10. His family confirmed he was suffering from dementia in 2014.
22 Oct 2017
Australian musician, songwriter and record producer George Young died aged 70. Young, the brother of AC/DC's Angus and Malcolm Young, was a member of the Easybeats and co-wrote the band's 1966 hit 'Friday On My Mind'. Born in Scotland in 1946, he migrated to Australia with his family as a teenager, forming The Easybeats after he met Dutch-born artist Harry Vanda in Sydney. After the band broke up in 1969, Vanda and Young embarked on a songwriting career that saw the pair produce dozens of hits. They became two of Australia's best-known songwriters, with Young's work including 'Love Is In The Air' and 'Yesterday's Hero' both hits for John Paul Young.
8 Mar 2016
AC/DC postponed the rest of their current US tour after singer Brian Johnson was warned he was going deaf. The band posted a statement on their website saying doctors had advised Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss.
3 Aug 2015
Former AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd pleaded not guilty to breaching the conditions of his current home detention by drinking alcohol. Rudd had been under house detention since being sentenced for drug possession and making threats to kill in July of this year. The 61-year-old could face further sanctions, including jail time, if the judge decided he did violate his conditions.
9 Jul 2015
Phil Rudd, a drummer with AC/DC was sentenced in New Zealand to eight months house detention for drug possession and making threats to kill. The court heard how Rudd had fired several employees after the failure of his solo album, Head Job, in August last year, Rudd had also called one victim saying: "I'm going to come over and kill you." His sentence would be served at his beachfront home in Tauranga, with Judge Thomas Ingram warning he would be face jail if he breached the conditions.
21 Apr 2015
Phil Rudd, drummer of AC/DC, changed his plea to guilty on a charge of a threat to kill, in a court in Tauranga, New Zealand. The court heard Rudd was unhappy about his album's launch party and asked for a former employee to be "taken out". He had previously denied the charge. He also pleaded guilty to cannabis and methamphetamine possession. The court heard that he had fired a number of employees last August after the launch of his solo album, Head Job.
1 Dec 2014
Phil Rudd the drummer of rock band AC/DC pleaded not guilty to charges of threatening to kill and possession of drugs. Phil Rudd was excused from appearing in New Zealand's Tauranga District Court, with his lawyer entering his plea. The 60-year-old Australian-born musician was originally charged with attempting to procure the murder of two men.
7 Nov 2014
Australian drummer of AC/DC, Phil Rudd, had a charge of attempting to arrange a murder dropped in New Zealand, but he will still facing charges of drugs possession and making threats to kill. The U-turn by authorities, announced less than 24 hours after Mr Rudd appeared in court, was because of a lack of evidence, his lawyer said.
25 Aug 2014
Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' was voted the greatest guitar riff of all time by listeners of BBC Radio 2 in the UK. The rock classic came out top from a list of 100 riffs drawn up by a panel of Radio 2 and 6 Music DJs, critics and record producers. 'Sweet Child O' Mine' by Guns 'N' Roses was second in the poll, with Back In Black (AC/DC) and 'Smoke On The Water' (Deep Purple) the next most popular.
29 Dec 2010
Pollstar reported that Bon Jovi were the highest earning touring act of the year, taking in over $200 million (£130.7m). Australian rockers AC/DC landed at number two for the second year in a row, with tickets sales from their recent trek totaling $177m (£115m). U2 which was the top worldwide act in 2009, came in at third place, with ticket sales totaling $160.9m (£104.6m). Lady Gaga followed in fourth place, with Metallica at number five.
27 May 2010
Dozens of AC/DC fans needed treatment after complaining of burning eyes during a concert on the runway of Wels Airport, Wels, Austria. Around 150 fans had to be treated. Doctors found that the fans showed allergic reactions to bark mulch spread at the venue - the runway of Wels Airport, to avoid the soil getting too muddy after hours of massive rainfall.
27 Feb 2010
U2 raked in more money than any other music act in the US in 2009 making $109m (£71m) from touring, record sales and other royalties, almost twice as much as the second best, Bruce Springsteen who took home $58m (£38m), followed by Madonna with $47m (£31m) and AC/DC with $44m (£29m). Coldplay were the most successful British group, at number eight, with takings of $27m (£18m).
3 Feb 2010
AC/DC singer Brian Johnson, joined a growing group of critics of Bob Geldof and U2 singer Bono over their very public charity work, saying they should stop lecturing audiences about charity work and instead do their good deeds in private. Johnson said "When I was a working man I didn't want to go to a concert for some bastard to talk down to me that I should be thinking of some kid in Africa. I'm sorry mate, do it yourself, spend some of your own money and get it done. It just makes me angry."
26 Jul 2009
AC/DC singer Brian Johnson appeared as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car on the BBC television programme Top Gear. His time of 1:45.9 tied him with Simon Cowell for the second fastest time. He was introduced by host Jeremy Clarkson as "a man who has sold more albums than The Beatles and I bet almost none of [the audience] have ever heard of him."
2 Jan 2009
According to official US sales figures AC/DC were the biggest sellers of 2008 with over 3.4m sales. To promote the groups latest album Black Ice, Columbia Records created "Rock Again AC/DC Stores" as well as "Black Ice" trucks which were dispatched on the streets of New York and Los Angeles playing AC/DC music aloud and making various stops each day to sell merchandise.
10 Dec 2008
The Associated Press reported that the US military used loud music to "create fear, disorient and prolong capture shock" for prisoners at military detention centers at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Among the songs blasted 24 hours a day were 'Born In The USA' by Bruce Springsteen, 'Hell's Bells' by AC/DC, 'White America' by Eminem, 'The Theme From Sesame Street' and 'I Love You' from the Barney and Friends children's TV show.
8 Nov 2008
AC/DC started a two-week run at #1 on the US album chart with 'Black Ice' the bands fifteenth studio album and the second-best selling album of 2008. Black Ice went to #1 in 29 countries, including Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US.
28 Oct 2008
A statue honouring AC/DC's Bon Scott was unveiled at the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour in Western Australia. Although born in Scotland, Scott grew up in Fremantle after his family emigrated to Australia in 1952. Bon started out his newfound Australian life in Melbourne, his family lived in the suburb of Sunshine for 4 years before moving to Fremantle. Scott was born in 1946 died on 20th February 1980. He is buried in Fremantle cemetery.
26 Oct 2008
AC/DC went to No.1 on the UK album chart with 'Black Ice' the Australian bands fifteenth studio album which went on to become a No.1 hit in 29 different countries and the second-best selling album of 2008.
26 Jun 2008
Total Guitar magazine voted Celine Dion’s rendition of the AC/DC track ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ as the world's worst cover version ever. In the best cover versions list, Jimi Hendrix was voted into first place with his version of the Bob Dylan song ‘All Along the Watchtower,’ The Beatles rendition of ‘Twist and Shout’, (first recorded by the Top Notes), was in second place, followed by the Guns N' Roses version of the Wings song ‘Live and Let Die’.
28 Dec 2005
Pink Floyd were voted the greatest rock stars ever in a survey of 58,000 listeners from UK radio station Planet Rock. Led Zeppelin were voted into second place, 3rd was The Rolling Stones, 4th The Who, 5th, AC/DC, 6th, U2, 7th, Guns N’ Roses, 8th, Nirvana, 9th, Bon Jovi and in 10th place Jimi Hendrix. Listeners also named the 1970s as the golden age of rock, followed by the 1960’s.
1 Oct 2004
The Lord Mayor of Melbourne officially opened 'AC/DC' Lane after the veteran rockers. The Lord Mayor erected the sign to cheers and bagpipes playing the bands song 'Long Way To The Top'. The City of Melbourne had extra copies of the sign made, in anticipation of fans stealing them.
30 Jul 2003
The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Rush, The Guess Who, Justin Timberlake, The Flaming Lips, Sass Jordan and The Isley Brothers played a benefit concert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to prove that the city is safe from SARS. With 450,000 spectators, it was the largest concert in Canadian history.
21 Jun 2001
John Lee Hooker, American blues singer and guitarist died in his sleep aged 83. Had hits with 'Boom Boom', 'Dimples' and 'I'm In The Mood'. His songs have been covered by many artists including Cream, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, The Yardbirds, The Doors and The White Stripes. He appeared and sang in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers.
1 Aug 2000
AC/DC kicked off their 140 date Stiff Upper World Lip Tour at the Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.
12 Jan 1996
AC/DC played the first date on their Ballbreaker World Tour in Greensboro, North Carolina. The world tour would last for 11 months finishing on November 30, 1996 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
26 Sep 1995
AC/DC released Ballbreaker their 12th international studio album. The album which was produced by Rick Rubin, featured the return of former drummer Phil Rudd, who had been fired from the band in 1983 as a result of drinking and drug problems and a fight with founding rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young.
11 Nov 1990
Ted Albert the founder of Albert Productions died from a heart attack aged 53. His Australian based company helped launch the careers of The Easybeats, John Paul Young, The Angels, Rose Tattoo and AC/DC. In recognition of his contribution to the music industry, the Australasian Performing Right Association established the annual "Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music".
11 Nov 1990
A 21 year-old AC/DC fan died after being attacked outside the Brendan Byrne Arena in New Jersey where the band were playing a gig that night.
24 Sep 1990
AC/DC released 'The Razors Edge' their 11th internationally released studio album. The only studio album to feature drummer Chris Slade, reached No.2 on the US chart and #4 in the UK.
11 Jan 1985
A Brazilian rock Festival held in Rio, claimed to be the biggest ever staged. The festival featured; Queen, Rod Stewart, AC/DC, Whitesnake, Yes and Iron Maiden.
26 Dec 1981
AC/DC started a three-week run at No.1 on the US album chart with 'For Those About To Rock We Salute You' the follow-up to their highly successful album 'Back In Black'. The name of the album was inspired by a book Angus Young read, entitled 'For Those About to Die, We Salute You', about Roman gladiators.
1 Jun 1981
The first issue of the Heavy Metal magazine Kerrang! was published as a special pull-out by UK weekly music paper Sounds. AC/DC had the front cover plus features on Motorhead, Girlschool and Saxon.
19 Oct 1980
AC/DC kicked off a 20-date UK tour at Bristol Colston Hall. The bands first gigs since the death of singer Bon Scott.
9 Aug 1980
AC/DC scored their first UK No.1 album with Back In Black. It was the first AC/DC album recorded without former lead singer Bon Scott (who died on 19 February 1980 at the age of 33), and was dedicated to him. The album has sold an estimated 49 million copies worldwide to date, making it the second highest selling album of all time, and the best selling hard rock or heavy metal album, as well as the best selling album ever released by a band.
1 Aug 1980
Def Leppard made their US live debut when they appeared at the New York City concert opening for AC/DC. It was also Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott's 21st birthday.
25 Jul 1980
AC/DC released their sixth internationally released studio album Back In Black, the first AC/DC album recorded without former lead singer Bon Scott who died on 19 February 1980 at the age of 33. The album has sold an estimated 49 million copies worldwide to date, making it the second highest-selling album of all time, and the best-selling hard rock or heavy metal album.
19 Apr 1980
32 year old English singer Brian Johnson joined Australian group AC/DC, replacing Bon Scott who had died after a drinks binge in February 1980. Johnson's first band was the Gobi Desert Canoe Club. He was also in a band called Fresh. From 1970, Johnson played with cabaret/club band The Jasper Hart Band, performing songs from the musical Hair. He and other members of the band went on to form Geordie.
19 Feb 1980
AC/DC singer Bon Scott was pronounced dead on arrival at a London hospital after a heavy night's drinking. Scott was found in the passenger seat of a friend's parked car. The official coroner's report stated that he had "drunk himself to death", after suffocating on his own vomit.
2 Nov 1979
AC/DC played the second of three sold out nights at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, England, with Def Leppard supporting.
26 Oct 1979
AC/DC appeared at The Mayfair, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, supported by Def Leppard. The bands were booked to appear the night before but after a fire at the venue in the afternoon, the show was cancelled.
20 Sep 1976
AC/DC released their third studio album 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap'. The album has been certified 6x Platinum in the United States, which means that it has sold at least 6 million copies, becoming the third highest sold album by AC/DC in the US after 'Highway To Hell' and 'Back In Black'.
1 Apr 1976
Making their live debut in the UK, AC/DC played at The Red Cow in Hammersmith, London.
23 Feb 1976
AC/DC shot the video clip for "It's A Long Way To The Top, (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" for the Australian music television program Countdown. It featured the band's then-current lineup, along with members of the Rats of Tobruk Pipe Band, on the back of a flat-bed truck travelling on Swanston Street in Melbourne. In May 2001, Australasian Performing Rights Association celebrated its 75th anniversary by naming the Best Australian Songs of all time, as decided by a 100-member industry panel. "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" was ranked as the ninth song on the list.
17 Feb 1975
AC/DC released their debut album 'High Voltage'. The album featured a cover of 'Baby, Please Don't Go' a blues song first recorded by Big Joe Williams and 'She's Got Balls' which was written about singer Bon Scott's ex-wife Irene - the first AC/DC song for which he wrote lyrics.
25 Jan 1975
The last Sunbury Rock Festival in Victoria Australia was held. The promoters who had made heavy losses only paid Deep Purple. AC/DC were scheduled to play after Deep Purple but a fight started on stage between road crews after Purple's set when they began packing up the lights and PA and denied AC/DC use of them, who then left the festival site without playing at all.
31 Dec 1973
Australian band AC/DC made their live debut when they appeared at Chequers Bar in Sydney.
26 Aug 1970
A party was held to celebrate the official opening of 'Electric Ladyland' studios in New York City, New York. Artists who went on to record at the studio include: Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, AC/DC, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa and  Guns N' Roses.
4 Oct 1968
On the first night of a UK club tour Led Zeppelin (billed as The Yardbirds featuring Jimmy Page) appeared at the Mayfair Ballroom, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, supported by Terry Reid's Fantasia, tickets cost 10/6. The Mayfair was a regular venue for up and coming acts, Pink Floyd Mott the Hoople, Def Leppard and AC/DC had all appeared at the club which was demolished in 2000.
5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. andrew thompson

    February 19, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    The best, rip

  2. Terry Hickey

    February 22, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    Outside of Elvis, Bon had the greatest rock voice and on stage presence. Truly great, Bon Scott.

  3. Terry Hickey

    February 22, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    Bon most likely couldn’t sing the tune “Happy Birthday” in a manner that was pleasing, but he could belt out songs like “Highway to Hell” and you knew there was a greatness with that voice.

  4. Chris Raymond

    March 1, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    Bon told life stories thru his songs….just awesome

  5. Norm

    March 26, 2021 at 3:12 pm

    41 years ago, alot of us young Rockers lost one of our seminal kings of Rock n Roll. You are missed mate.

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