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.

AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

This song is about as sleazy as you can get but I like it.

AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young got the song title from the 1962 animated cartoon series Beany and Cecil. The Show first aired on ABC Television and only ran for one season until the 26 episodes shown were cast as repeats for the next five years until it was recreated in 1968.

The specific inspiration for the song name was the cartoon’s main villain, “Dishonest John,” who would carry around a business card that said, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Holidays, Sundays, and Special Rates.”

Norman and Marilyn White, a couple from Libertyville, Illinois, sued the band for invasion of privacy after they were inundated with calls due to this song. Apparently, many AC/DC fans in the area dialed 3-6-2-4-3-6-8 (thinking the “hey!” as “eight”), which was their phone number. The couple claimed they received hundreds of “lewd, suggestive and threatening” phone calls, asking for various dirty deeds at low, low prices. The Whites asked for $250,000 in damages and demanded that the band re-record the song, but a judge ruled against them. The people with the bad luck to have 867-5309 had the same problem but they only had inquiries about Jenny.

The song was written by Bon Scott, Angus, and Malcolm Young.  The album was released in Australia and in Europe in 1976. The album was released in America in 1981 after Scott’s death and after the popular Back in Black. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Hits and #47 in the UK.

Lesley Gore, known for ’60s hits like “It’s My Party,” recorded this for the 2002 compilation album When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear. Her version was produced by Mauro DeSantis, who worked with Cevin Soling on the track… I couldn’t find it on Youtube but click on that link. Lesley Gore channels her inner Bon Scott on this one…I didn’t like the music part as much but her singing was spot on.

From Songfacts

This song epitomizes AC/DC’s dangerous and mean sound, with Angus Young’s heavy guitar and Bon Scott’s leering, vocals that would have scared the living daylights out of any unsuspecting teenage Pop fans when this song first hit the airwaves (they did it on a national TV show in Australia called Countdown, which was usually frequented by acts like ABBA and Bucks Fizz).

This was recorded at Alberts Studios in Sydney, Australia in 1976 soon after the sessions that produced the Australian version of their TNT album.

Regarding the lyrics, “Just ring: 3-6-2-4-3-6,” this was an actual phone number in Australia at the time, and it also could describe the measurements of a very shapely woman: 36-24-36. A year later, the Commodores used the same measurements to describe a woman in their song “Brick House.” Sir Mix-a-Lot, however, scoffed at these measurements in his 1992 hit “Baby Got Back,” where he says: “36-24-36? Only if she’s 5’3.”

The ending is one of the most famous screams in rock history. For those wondering, it’s spelled: “Yaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggghhhhhh!” 

This was used in the Norm MacDonald movie Dirty Work. It is played while Norm’s character Mitch and his friend Sam are wrecking a building in an attempt to get it condemned. 

On a 2008 episode of The Simpsons where they team up on a stakeout, we learn that Homer Simpson and the pious Ned Flanders have some common ground in their musical tastes. Homer likes AC/DC, and Ned likes their Christian tribute band: AD/BC, and their version of this song, “Kindly Deeds Done For Free.”

The song about murder for hire enjoyed a sales spike following drummer Phil Rudd being charged with trying to procure a murder in November 2014. The charge was soon dropped.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

If you’re havin’ trouble with the high school head
He’s givin’ you the blues
You want to graduate but not in ‘is bed
Here’s what you gotta do
Pick up the phone
I’m always home
Call me any time
Just ring
36 24 36 hey
I lead a life of crime

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap

You got problems in your life of love
You got a broken heart
He’s double dealin’ with your best friend
That’s when the teardrops start, fella
Pick up the phone
I’m here alone
Or make a social call
Come right in
Forget about him
We’ll have ourselves a ball

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap

If you got a lady and you want her gone
But you ain’t got the guts
She keeps naggin’ at you night and day
Enough to drive ya nuts
Pick up the phone
Leave her alone
It’s time you made a stand
For a fee
I’m happy to be
Your back door man

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap yeah
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap

Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT
Done dirt cheap
Neckties, contracts, high voltage
Done dirt cheap

Dirty deeds
Do anything you wanna do
Done dirty cheap
Dirty deeds
Dirty deeds
Dirty deeds
Done dirt cheap

AC/DC – Girls Got Rhythm

This one and Highway to Hell are two of my favorite AC/DC songs. The Rolling Stones could have written this song.  Great riff and great singing by Bon Scott. The song was written by Bon Scott and Malcolm and Angus Young. I’m going to turn 12 year…this song just plain out rocks!

Years ago I would never pay the Bon Scott era much attention…now it’s rapidly becoming my favorite of the band. That is not a knock on Brian Johnson. Both have one of a kind voices but I like the writing in the Bon era a lot. 

This was on their 1979 Highway To Hell album. It was their largest album to this point. It setup their next album Back in Black to be huge.

Highway To Hell was the first AC/DC album produced by Mutt Lange, who worked the band very hard and tried new techniques that made the band’s sound more appealing to the masses without softening their sound. He helped Bon Scott with sharpening his vocals along with Angus Young’s solos.

Lange was an up-and-coming producer at the time, but he would soon become a superstar, launching into the stratosphere with AC/DC’s next album, Back In Black. 

Highway to Hell peaked at #17 in the Billboard 100, #40 in Canada, and #8 in the UK in 1979.

The band also would launch into superstar status with their next album but sadly Bon Scott wasn’t part of it. He would die alone in a car Febrary 19, 1980. The official cause was listed on the death certificate as “acute alcohol poisoning” and classified as “death by misadventure.”

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.[33][37] It is reportedly the most visited grave in Australia. 

From Songfacts

This lascivious rocker is one of the last tunes written by lead singer Bon Scott, who died six months after the album was released. It’s a classic Bon Scott lyric, as he finds myriad ways of explaining how his woman satisfies him, all while keeping the title squeaky clean and radio-friendly. It was released as a single in the UK and other parts of Europe, but didn’t chart. In America, the song did very well on stations with the Album Oriented Rock (AOR) format.

Note that there is no apostrophe in the title, which implies multiple girls having rhythm. The lyric suggests that an apostrophe is necessary, as Scott is singing about one specific girl, but it’s not likely that anyone challenged his grammar.

Girls Got Rhythm

I’ve been around the world
I’ve seen a million girls
Ain’t one of them got
What my lady she’s got

She’s stealin’ the spotlight
Knocks me off my feet
She’s enough to start a landslide
Just a walkin’ down the street

Wearing dresses so tight
And looking dynamite
Enough to blow me out
No doubt about it can’t live without it

The girl’s got rhythm (girl’s got rhythm)
The girl’s got rhythm (girl’s got rhythm)
She’s got the backseat rhythm (backseat rhythm)
The girl’s got rhythm

She’s like a lethal brand
Too much for any man
She gives me first degree
She really satisfies me

Love me till I’m legless
Aching and sore
Enough to stop a freight train
Or start the Third World War

You know I’m losin’ sleep
I’m in too deep
Like a body needs blood
No doubt about it, can’t live without it

The girl’s got rhythm (girl’s got rhythm)
The girl’s got rhythm (girl’s got rhythm)
She’s got the backseat rhythm (backseat rhythm)
The girl’s got rhythm

You know she moves like sin
And when she lets me in
It’s like liquid love
No doubt about it, can’t live without it

The girl’s got rhythm (girl’s got rhythm)
The girl’s got rhythm (girl’s got rhythm)
She’s got the backseat rhythm (backseat rhythm)
The girl’s got rhythm (girl’s got rhythm)

You know she really got the rhythm (girl’s got rhythm)
She’s got the backseat rhythm (backseat rhythm)
Rock ‘n’ roll rhythm (rock n roll rhythm)
The girl’s got rhythm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Scott

AC/DC – It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)

For my posts I have no system…no master plan…I just post randomly every day. I do have the occasional series but for the most part I keep it spontaneous. That sometimes leads to late nights frantically searching for songs  but it keeps it exciting…and me sleepy during the day.

I ran across this video from a seventies Australia TV show called “Bandstand” with Bon Scott fronting ACDC with bagpipes…I’m on board!!! I just had to post it. Bon was a good musician who could play drums, recorder, and a bit of bagpipes.

Angus and Malcolm’s older brother George suggested using bagpipes in this song. Bon Scott agreed despite having never played them before…Bon did play them on the recording and live until they were destroyed by fans.

This was an autobiographical song for AC/DC describing their struggles as they toured relentlessly trying to make it. At the time, they were just getting started and playing some seedy venues with even worse business associates. The band was sometimes labeled as a punk band…a label they hated. I have never thought of ACDC as a punk band…if you look on the single cover you will see “Original Punk Music.”

The song peaked at #9 in Australia in 1975. The song was written by Bon Scott with  Angus and Malcolm Young.

Brian Johnson said he will not sing this out of respect for Bon Scott.  Bon Scott’s band was opening for future lead singer Johnson’s band Geordie in the early 1970s. Bon Scott was impressed by Johnson’s performance and told his band about him.

Brian Johnson: “Bon Scott was up on stage singing, and we met and had a couple of beers. He watched us play, and God bless his cotton socks again, when he did join AC/DC he was talking to the boys and he did say something to the effect that the only rock singer that he’d seen that was worth a damn was me, which was really nice of him, and the boys never forgot that.”

Brian Johnson: “I think he embodied everything that was fun, everything that was like ‘never say die, live life to the full.’ And he had a terrible thing happen to him when he passed on. He wasn’t a wild, wild, wild man he was just as wild as the other boys were. He was just unlucky. We’ve all done stupid, dumb things where we’re young, but we got away with it. He didn’t. It was just one of them stupid things that shouldn’t have happened, and it was accidental and it was stupid. And I just won’t have a bad word said against him. We still talk about him like he’s a member of the band in the dressing room.”

From Songfacts

“It’s A Long Way To The Top” really summed us up as a band,” Angus Young told Rolling Stone. It was the audience that really allowed us to even get near a studio.

A study in contrast is the Boston song “Rock And Roll Band,” released in 1976. That song tells the story of a similar struggle, but it was completely made up: Boston was a studio act first and foremost and had immediate success with their first album.

According to Bon Scott’s biographer Clinton Walker, this tongue-in-cheek song “has become an anthem.” Heavy metal tracks are usually dominated by ego-tripping guitar solos; this song is unusual because instead of a lengthy guitar solo it features interplay between Angus Young on lead and Bon Scott on the bagpipes. Ronald Belford (Bonnie Scotland) Scott was born in Scotland – as were the Young brothers. The somewhat older Scott arrived in Australia with his family some 11 years before the Youngs emigrated; he learned recorder and drums, and was a proficient bagpipe player.

The song runs to 5 minutes 15 seconds, which is quite long for a single.

The band made a video to promote the single and the album. This was filmed on February 23, 1976 when they rode through the center of Melbourne on an open topped truck accompanied by three members of the Rats of Tobruk Pipe Band. The most noticeable feature of the video is that the vocalist was really enjoying himself, but, Walker adds, “it’s as if Bon acknowledges he’s living on borrowed time, and luckily at that.” It would not be such a long way to the top for AC/DC, but four years later almost to the day, it would all be over for Bon. On February 19, 1980 he was found dead on the back seat of a car in London, having literally drunk himself to death. 

In 2004, one of the streets in Melbourne near where this video was filmed was renamed “ACDC Lane” in honor of the band. The street was formerly known as Corporation Lane. 

Jack Black and the School of Rock band play a version of this at the end of the movie School of Rock. The interplay is between the singer and all the members of the band. 

It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)

Ridin’ down the highway
Goin’ to a show
Stop in all the byways
Playin’ rock ‘n’ roll
Gettin’ robbed
Gettin’ stoned
Gettin’ beat up
Broken boned
Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks

It’s harder than it looks
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you think it’s easy doin’ one-night stands
Try playin’ in a rock roll band
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

Hotel
Motel
Make you wanna cry
Ladies do the hard sell
Know the reason why
Gettin’ old
Gettin’ gray
Gettin’ ripped off
Underpaid
Gettin’ sold
Second-hand
That’s how it goes
Playin’ in a band

It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you wanna be a star of stage and screen
Look out it’s rough and mean
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

It’s a long way
It’s a long way
It’s a long way
It’s a long way

AC/DC – Hells Bells…Happy Halloween!!!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Have a safe one.

This is song by the one and only AC/DC called Hells Bells.

AC/DC recorded this a few months after lead singer Bon Scott died of acute alcohol poisoning after a night of heavy drinking. The album is a tribute to him, with new singer, Brian Johnson, on vocals.

This is the first track on Back In Black, AC/DC’s biggest album. In tribute to Bon Scott, it starts off with the bell tolling four times before the guitar riff comes in. The bell rings another nine times, gradually fading out. When played live, Brian Johnson would strike the bell.

Back In Black peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada and The UK in 1980.

Brian Johnson on writing the song: “I don’t believe in God or Heaven or Hell. But something happened. We had these little rooms like cells with a bed and a toilet, no TVs. I had this big sheet of paper and I had to write some words. I was going, ‘oh f–k.’ and I’ll never forget, I just went (scribbles frantically as if his hand is possessed). I started writing and never stopped. And that was it, hells Bells. I had a bottle of whisky and I went (generous gulps). I kept the light on all night, man.”

From Songfacts

You don’t honor Bon Scott’s memory with a bell from a sound effects reel, so the band needed a real bell, and a big one. The first attempt to record the bell took place in Leicestershire, England at the Carillon and War Memorial Museum. This proved insufficient, so the band commissioned a one-ton bronze bell from a local foundry that they would also use on stage.

The bell wasn’t ready in time for recording, however, so the manufacturer (John Taylor Bellfounders) arranged for them to record a similar bell at a nearby church. According to engineer Tony Platt, that didn’t go well, as there were birds living in the bell, so when they rang it they also got the fluttering of wings (the birds would retreat back inside the bell after the toll).

They decided to use the bell that was in production, so they borrowed a mobile recording unit owned by Ronnie Laine and wheeled it into the foundry. The bell was hung on a block and tackle and struck by the man who built it.

Because of the harmonics, bells are not easy to record, so Platt placed about 15 microphones with various dynamics in different locations around the foundry to record the sounds. Once it was on tape, Platt brought the recordings to Electric Lady Studios in New York, where he and producer Mutt Lange chose the right combination of bell sounds, put a mix together, and slowed it down to half speed so the one-ton bell would sound like a more ominous two-ton bell. This was integrated into the mix, and the song was completed. Listeners with very sharp ears will notice that the bell when chimed live is an octave higher than than it is on the recording.

This was one of the first songs regularly played as entrance music for a Major League Baseball relief pitcher. In the ’90s, the bells signaled the entrance of San Diego Padres relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman. This bit of home team intimidation was copied throughout the league, most famously by the New York Yankees, who appropriated Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” as Mariano Rivera’s entrance music.

The concept of relief pitcher entrance music was introduced in the 1989 movie Major League, where Charlie Sheen’s character comes in to “Wild Thing” by The Troggs. A few years later, The Philadelphia Phillies played that song when their pitcher Mitch Williams would come in from the bullpen.

There is an all-female AC/DC tribute band in Seattle called Hell’s Belles.

The term “Hell’s Bells” is an exclamation of surprise, although in the context of this song, it is used to conjure up images of the underworld and the feeling of raising hell – something Bon Scott was known for.

The album was produced by John “Mutt” Lange, who also helmed the previous AC/DC album, Highway to Hell. Lange went on quite a run after Back In Black, producing the Foreigner album 4 (1981) and the Def Leppard albums High ‘N’ Dry (1981) and Pyromania (1983).

At University of North Carolina football games, this song is played at the start of the fourth quarter. 

Johnson told Q magazine how this song played a part in rescuing imprisoned Black Hawk Down pilot Michael Durant following the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993. He recalled: “That was the best one. He was shoved in prison, his back was broken. They were kicking him, shooting bullets into him and he was terrified. His pals knew that AC/DC was his favorite band so they hooked up a speaker to the skid of one of the Black Hawks and they were playing ‘Hells Bells’ over the rooftops. He took his shirt off and- cos his legs were broken- he crawled up to the windows and waved his shirt. That’s how they got him out. Ain’t that amazing!”

Since this song specifically is a tribute to the late Bon Scott, it’s probably a good idea to mention that a statue of him was unveiled in 2008 in Fremantle, Western Australia. Here’s a little video tour of the statue.

At the same time, as soon as the first lyric is heard, it is unmistakable that the band could not have found a better replacement than Brian Johnson. Johnson puts a manic rage into every syllable and an unearthly howl on the chorus, making a song with scarily sacrilegious lyrics even scarier. By the way, that hat he wears onstage was his brother’s idea, to help Brian Johnson keep the sweat out of his eyes. His brother loaned it to him and never got it back.

Four years after this song, Metallica released “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” which also opens with a bell. Theirs came from a sound effects library.

Hells Bells

I’m a rolling thunder, a pouring rain
I’m comin’ on like a hurricane
My lightning’s flashing across the sky
You’re only young but you’re gonna die

I won’t take no prisoners, won’t spare no lives
Nobody’s putting up a fight
I got my bell, I’m gonna take you to hell
I’m gonna get you, Satan get you

Hell’s bells
Yeah, hell’s bells
You got me ringing hell’s bells
My temperature’s high, hell’s bells

I’ll give you black sensations up and down your spine
If you’re into evil you’re a friend of mine
See my white light flashing as I split the night
Cause if good’s on the left,
Then I’m stickin’ to the right

I won’t take no prisoners, won’t spare no lives
Nobody’s puttin’ up a fight
I got my bell, I’m gonna take you to hell
I’m gonna get you, Satan get you

Hell’s bells
Yeah, hell’s bells
You got me ringing hell’s bells
My temperature’s high, hell’s bells

Yeow

Hell’s bells, Satan’s comin’ to you
Hell’s bells, he’s ringing them now
Hell’s bells, the temperature’s high
Hell’s bells, across the sky
Hell’s bells, they’re takin’ you down
Hell’s bells, they’re draggin’ you around
Hell’s bells, gonna split the night
Hell’s bells, there’s no way to fight, yeah

Ow, ow, ow, ow

Hell’s bells