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What makes AC/DC’s Bon Scott so unforgettable? Greg Prato looked to find out

February 19, 2020
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What makes AC/DC’s Bon Scott so unforgettable? Greg Prato looked to find out (Photo: Atlantic Records promotional image of AC/DC, circa 1976)

Some 40 years after the death of AC/DC’s original lead vocalist and lyricist Bon Scott, rock writer Greg Prato’s new book on the singer presents a fresh perspective on the beloved figure, who has previously been the subject of numerous biographies.

Drawing upon his own interviews with many of Scott’s friends and associates who hadn’t previously gone on record, Prato says his book “A Rockin’ Rollin’ Man: Bon Scott Remembered” differs from earlier volumes in that he spoke with as many people as possible who knew and worked with the singer to get closer to the truth of what made him so special.

Among Prato’s interview subjects for “A Rockin’ Rollin’ Man” were former Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, who discusses some of the many shows his band played with AC/DC during the Bon Scott years. Carlos added perspective on Scott’s impulsive humor and infectious personality.

“One of the memorable shows they played together was a festival date in 1979,” Prato said. “One morning at the hotel the morning after the gig, Robin Zander (Cheap Trick’s lead vocalist) and Bun E. Carlos went down to the restaurant to have breakfast when they spot Bon Scott sitting by himself at a table. The table itself was full of empty plates, and it looked like everyone else had eaten and then left Bon to himself. Bon looked up and saw them and said, ‘Hello guys, want to join me?’ and proceeded to push all of the plates off the table, sending them crashing to the floor.”

Recording engineer Tony Platt (AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Bob Marley, Buddy Guy, Foreigner) offered the unique perspective of what it was like to work with AC/DC on the last album completed in Bon Scott’s lifetime (1979’s “Highway to Hell”) and the first album to be released after Bon Scott’s death (1980’s “Back in Black”) with lead vocalist Brian Johnson.

“Tony told me a great story about his first meeting with Bon Scott,” Prato said. “Bon’s first words to him were something like ‘G’day mate, would you like a cup of tea?’ Bon made tea for him during their first meeting, and he spoke of what it was like in the studio just after Bon died, when they were recording ‘Back in Black.’”

Prato also writes of a frequent subject of debate: Did Bon Scott contribute lyrics for AC/DC’s blockbuster “Back in Black” album (25 million copies sold in the U.S. alone) without being credited?

“Bon was definitely there during some of the demo recordings for that record,” said Prato. “AC/DC’s drummer from 1983 to 1989, Simon Wright, told me a story about being at (lead guitarist) Angus Young’s house, when Angus put on a tape of he and (rhythm guitarist) Malcolm Young doing a demo for a song on ‘Back in Black’ with Bon Scott playing drums.”

Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson shared a story with Prato about attending a Cheap Trick concert in the late ‘70s and being shocked to discover that AC/DC was the unannounced opening band.

“He was a big Cheap Trick fan who had just discovered AC/DC,” Prato said. “He and a friend arrived at this venue in Minnesota and heard part of the sound-check from outside. His friend put his ear next to the wall of the venue and could tell that it was AC/DC. They finally got in and went up to Malcolm Young’s side of the stage and stood there for the whole show. He said that AC/DC was clearly the better of the two bands that night.”

Prato has written for Rolling Stone, Classic Rock Magazine, and All Music Guide. He has written numerous books on rock subjects, including KISS, Pearl Jam, King’s X, Soundgarden, Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots, The Meat Puppets, Rainbow, Iron Maiden and others. “A Rockin’ Rollin’ Man: Bon Scott remembered” is available from Amazon in paperback and in Kindle form.

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 February 2020 08:41

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