Bon Scott, the original vocalist for AC/DC, died 35 years ago. We all know his voice, that miraculous screech that makes classics like “Highway to Hell” and “T.N.T.” pop even now, but we don’t often see pictures of him. There aren’t a ton of them available.
Bon Scott died under mysterious circumstances; after a night of hard drinking, he was left sitting in a car on a London street, and found dead there the next day. Depending whom you ask, he died of asphyxiation, alcohol poisoning, or hypothermia. In an astonishingly smooth transition, Scott was replaced by British singer Brian Johnson, and Back in Black, the group’s all-time best selling album, was released five months after Scott’s death.
The Brian Johnson-era AC/DC — 35 years and counting — is a kickass band with a great vocalist, but without Bon Scott it’s a different beast. It’s not a dangerous band. For all his energy and schoolboy shtick, Angus Young is famous for his sobriety and is often described as shy or reclusive. Johnson, meanwhile, comes off almost like a hard rock Tom Jones. He’s a showman, not a loose cannon.
The post-Scott AC/DC is built for longevity; AC/DC ’74-’80, not so much
Bon Scott, though, was a rock star, and a dangerous one at that. According to a recent account, he found his bandmates boring. He drank heavily, he cavorted with groupies, he performed bare-chested in tight jeans that were strangely jacked up to his navel — or maybe not so strangely, considering the apparently giant package he was obviously showing off. (We’re not ruling out a Nigel St. Hubbins-style pickle trick; in some pictures the bulge is simply ludicrous.)
Here are a whole bunch of pictures of a natural-born rock god who died 35 years ago in February, aged 33, and who would have turned 69 this month.
These last two pictures come from Irene Thornton’s book My Bon Scott. Thornton and Scott were married in 1972 — two years before Scott joined AC/DC. In Thornton’s account of their marriage, Scott essentially falls out of love with her as he is falling in love with AC/DC and the rock ‘n roll lifestyle. The two broke up as AC/DC was taking off, but did not divorce until 1978, and remained close friends up to Scott’s death. For more of Irene’s story, see articles at the Daily Mail and Adelaide Now.