Remembering Ronald Belford “Bon” Scott: July 9, 1946 – February 19, 1980

Bon-Scott

We all had one of “those” friends in high school. You know the guy, the one who never really fit in, was kind of a stoner, and maybe even a little bit “out there.”

Brad was a kid in high school, a year older than me, that I never really hung out with outside of the lunchroom table, but those times eating greasy pizza, hot dogs, and French fries were always a memorable experience. Brad always had a story, either about getting high, his older brother (a major stoner), or the neighborhood sluts he’d try to scam on. He had this one trick where he would take a thread off his shirt, sniff it up his nose and out his mouth and then move it back and forth like he was flossing his mouth.

As you might guess, Brad was into metal music – Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Judas Priest…you get the idea. It was nothing like the glam metal I was listening to. I remember bringing in the new Poison cassette ‘Look What the Cat Dragged In’ and putting it on the lunch table and I had to convince him that these dudes were in fact guys, not girls. He would proceed to tell me Iron Maiden stories and about how one time he was tripping so hard on acid in his bedroom that his Angus Young AC/DC poster came to life and Angus was doing his school boy shuffle around his room for hours.

Brad also had the move of all moves during high school. You see, we went to a strict catholic high school, a school that music geeks like Brad and I detested. Brad drove a shitty car, but like all cars of high school kids in the 1980s, it had a killer stereo system. Truth be told, the stereo was probably worth more than the car. Every morning, you could hear Brad pulling into the high school parking lot, real slow, real deliberate, and every morning no matter if it was spring or winter he had the windows down and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” blaring out of his rusted-out jalopy. It was brilliant, a move I wish I had thought off. Brad did this fitting tribute to our school every single day for at least half the school year until the principal and teachers figured out what he was doing.

I knew of and liked AC/DC, primarily based on the 1980s album ‘Back in Black,’ so Brad’s middle finger to the catholic high school was more an introduction to me of one Mr. Bon Scott.

“Highway to Hell” was the title track of the legendary band’s 1979 album, an album which was to be Scott’s last with AC/DC. Turns out Scott was the typical rock & roll cliché. He lived fast and died young.

On the 19th of February, Scott was drinking heavily, something he was known for, at the London club The Music Machine. As his way, Scott drank until he passed out and friends put Scott in their Renault 5 car so he could “sleep it off.” Only this time, Scott didn’t wake up. The official cause was listed on the death certificate as “acute alcoholic poisoning” and classified as “death by misadventure.”

At the time of his death, AC/DC was working on new material for what would become the aptly titled ‘Back in Black’ album, which was released 17 months after Scott’s death, and would become the fourth biggest selling album in music history.

Thanks to Brad’s morning “Highway to Hell” tributes, I went out and picked up a copy of the album and quickly became an AC/DC fan beyond just ‘Back in Black.’ Not only was “Highway to Hell” a classic, but the album contained some of AC/DC’s largely overlooked hits such as “Shot Down in Flames,” “Girls Got Rhythm,” and “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It).”

In all, Bon Scott recorded seven albums with AC/DC before his passing at the age of 33. Though Scott’s replacement, Brian Johnson, has been in the band longer than Scott, and let’s face it, is a perfect fit for AC/DC, it is the Bon Scott-era of AC/DC which is still a huge influence on musicians and fans alike.

Here are 10 of my personal favorite Bon Scott AC/DC songs.

“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” from ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ (1976)

“Girls Got Rhythm” from ‘Highway to Hell’ (1979)

“Highway to Hell” from ‘Highway to Hell’ (1979)

“If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” from ‘Highway to Hell’ (1979)

“It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” from ‘TNT’ (1975)

“Jailbreak” from ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ (1976)

“Shot Down in Flames” from ‘Highway to Hell’ (1979)

“Sin City” from ‘Powerage’ (1978)

“T.N.T.” from ‘TNT’ (1975)

“Whole Lotta Rosie” from ‘Let There Be Rock’ (1977)