Bon: The Last Highway…by Jessie Fink

This book covers the last three years of Bon Scott, the lead singer of AC/DC.

Bon: The Last Highway is a fun read. It gives you more than just a look at Bon Scott. It gives you a peek in the world of Rock and Roll in the 1970s. It was a much more of a loose time then compared to now to say the least…both good and bad. The music business was a completely different ballgame than now.

Although this just covers the last three years of his life…you get to know Bon pretty well. I knew nothing about the guy until I read the book. He seemed to be well read, likeable, and a basically good guy to his friends and fans. O f course he did  have substance abuse  problems that haunted him.

There are a lot of stories about fans coming up to him and starting friendships. Fink interviewed other bands and most if not all had great things to say about Scott. He did find people who never have been interviewed and got stories that never have been published.

The working relationship between Bon and the Young brothers surprised me the most. Bon wrote the lyrics and they would censor what he wrote. Nothing political or controversial. They didn’t want the formula to be messed with. Offstage they didn’t tend to hang out as much with each other.

I never knew how popular Scott was in Australia even now. His grave site has become a cultural landmark; more than 28 years after Scott’s death, the National Trust of Australia declared his grave important enough to be included on the list of classified heritage places. It is reportedly the most visited grave in Australia.

The two things that author Jesse Fink concentrates on is how Bon died and if Bon did write some or most of the lyrics to the Back In Black album that was released after his death.

As far as the way the man died…Fink has some theories and they center around heroin. He interviewed some that has never been interviewed and got their story around Bon and the ones around him that night. The coroner’s report lists “acute alcohol poisoning” as the cause of death, classified under “death by misadventure.” Fink talked with people with him when he died on February 19, 1980.

The Young Brothers  have denied they ever used any of his lyrics on Back in Black…but AC/DC did cut a deal with the Scott family for a share of royalties on the album. In interviews they have denied it but did contradict themselves in others.

Below is an excerpt from the book  where more was said about the subject than any other time.

Then in 1998 Elissa Blake of Australian Rolling Stone caught him napping.

BLAKE: Have you ever thought about quitting?

ANGUS: The only time was when Bon died. We were in doubt about what to do but we had songs that he had written and wanted to finish the songs. We thought it would be our tribute to Bon and that album became Back In Black. We didn’t even know if people would even accept it. But it was probably one of our biggest albums and the success of that kept it going. We were on the road with that album for about two years so it was like therapy for the band after Bon’s death.

Bizarrely, before and since, Angus went with an altogether different story.

1981: “Some things we can’t do, you know, that was strictly Bon’s songs, and things.”

1996: “No, we were gonna start working on the lyrics with him the next week [after he died].”

1998: “The week he died, we had just worked out the music and he was going to come in and start writing lyrics.”

2000: “Bon was just about to come and start working with us writing lyrics just before he died.”

2005: “There was nothing [on Back In Black] from Bon’s notebook.”

It’s a line the band now doggedly sticks to despite mounting evidence that Bon’s lyrics were used. As Ian Jeffery admitted to me, cagily: “Not totally certain about Back In Black but I seem to remember a couple of words, lines [of Bon’s being on there]. Maybe not.”

Fink talked to Scott’s ex girlfriends and friends in his life and many claim that he did write many of the lyrics to You Shook Me All Night Long as well as other songs. Others say he had said some of the lines in letters. He basically gives you what he found and lets you make up your mind.

I would recommend this book to rock fans…and to AC/DC fans who mostly only know Brian Johnson as the lead singer.

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

28 thoughts on “Bon: The Last Highway…by Jessie Fink”

  1. This was an interesting read. Some of it makes sense. I know Kev(Buried on Mars) is a huge fan of AC/DC and he was so so on it but it makes you think what actually went down. Cool review dude.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The part that interests me the most is the writing credit or lack of. I do think it’s possible they did get lines either from Bon already or from his notebook because I will admit…it sounds like his writing.

      I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know a great deal about them and some of it does sound plausible.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure that lyric book of Bon’s ended up on BIB. No doubt about it with some of those titles like ‘Given The Dog A Bone’ and ‘Shake A Leg’ lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is what I think….and the Young brothers…were not not known to give money away either…why cut the family in for what was probably a fortune…even a small percentage would have been with that album.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, don’t get me started on this book, lol. I think Fink is a good interviewer. The stories he got out of the folks that knew Bon are priceless. But his journalism skills leave a lot to be desired. He began his book with an agenda and used hearsay and quotes taken out of context to prove his theory instead of facts. I’m also not a fan of conspiracy theories, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yea I didn’t know much at all about AC/DC in general…what I liked were the glimpses in the 70s rock music business at the time. I usually read about the Beatles, Who, and the Stones…so this was new.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Totally get that. And yeah, he did a good job of capturing that time. I did a write up on the book a few years ago. Fink even left a comment sometime last year. He wasn’t too happy with me, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Buried on Mars, when you have any sort of expertise as a journalist you can make a judgment on my skills a journalist. Who has the agenda here? Why shouldn’t I or any author call you up on your bullshit? You think you can write whatever the fuck you want about my motivation in writing the book (“cashing in”) when you don’t know me from a bar of soap? Badfinger20, my responding to Buried on Mars was not an indication that he ‘did good’; rather he went and said things about me, the way I work and my motivation for writing the book without any substantiation and it fully warranted me ‘tearing him a new arsehole’, as we say in Australia.

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    1. It was an interesting read. I knew nothing about them. His voice was one of a kind…it’s rough but it also has a velvet feeling to it.

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  2. Great background, Max! I hate when music artists don’t give credit where credit is due.

    Sadly, one of my long-time favorite rock bands, Led Zeppelin, is a prime example. My opinion about “Stairway to Heaven” wouldn’t have changed by one iota, if they had credited the opening to Spirit’s “Taurus.” I still would have believed Stairway possibly is the best rock song of all time – and I’m a huge Beatles fan, as you know!

    I’m probably pretty naive here. As much as music is about great melodies, instrumentation and lyrics, it’s also about bucks – big bucks, especially in the case of mega-stars like Zep and AC/DC. I’m sure the lack of public credit to Bon Scott has something to do with that.

    At least it sounds like the Scott family received some royalties from the “Back in Black” album. I assume it was a one-time deal. Had Scott been officially given credit, AC/DC would have had to pay them royalties to this day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the Scott family do continue to get royalties. That tells me that yes they did use some of his lyrics. I get it though…they wanted their fans to accept Brian Johnson and not have Bon’s shadow around..so it makes sense…but on the other hand….give the man credit.

      Oh it is about money…no doubt…Bon also mentioned to someone about a new song called “Back in Black” which meant after Highway to Hell…they were not in debt anymore…they were in the “black”….which totally makes sense.

      With Led Zeppelin I never understood why they just didn’t credit people…was it ego or money? I guess we will never know.

      I still love My Sweet Lord even if George didn’t mean to take it from the other…you are right it doesn’t matter.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I would hope the Scott family still receives royalties, at least from the Bon Scott albums! Between egos and greed, I guess music can be a pretty ugly business!

        I’m also 100% with you on George. He just doesn’t strike me as the type of person who knowingly would have stolen work by others without giving due credit.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh yea they do from those and BIB. Yes it is an ugly business…but it sure was different in the 70s…more money to be made

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes and I was surprised they would “censor”…of all bands! The Young brothers…they ran it tight…
      I never thought Bon was as friendly and as well read as he was…he seemed like a decent fellow….but with problems of course.

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  3. I like the songs that got airplay but knew little. I know more now after reading this. Have you heard the expression if you tell the truth you don’t need a good memory? Those changing stories about who wrote the lyrics in Back in Black makes me feel a little queasy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea…that is a true phrase…I usually keep my music reading to mid-sixties British rock stars so this was different for me…but it’s interesting. I do believe he had a hand in those lyrics.

      His notebook is still missing to this day…the man wrote everything down in it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I guarantee you that Bon did some writing on the BIB album. He wasn’t planning on dying. He was a active member. The Young brothers were definitely a tight ship.

    It’s so funny to me that this band was Australian but, they were all from Scotland.

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