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.