There have been few rock singers as beloved as the late/great Bon Scott of AC/DC. After all, it was his unmistakable vocals and street-wise/sexually-charged lyrics that were a major part of such all-time classic rock anthems as ‘Highway to Hell‘, ‘Sin City‘, ‘Whole Lotta Rosie‘, ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap‘ and ‘TNT‘. And it was the “Bon era” that set the stage for AC/DC to go on to become one of rock’s most universally popular and enduring bands.
But few rockers partied as hard as Bon—sadly resulting in his death at the age of 33 on February 19, 1980, just before AC/DC scored their worldwide breakthrough, with the mega-selling ‘Back in Black‘. To mark 40 years since Bon’s tragic passing, the just-released ‘A Rockin’ Rollin’ Man: Bon Scott Remembered‘ has been assembled by journalist/author Greg Prato—comprised entirely of all-new interviews with renowned rockers, discussing what made Bon so special and unforgettable.
Priced at $12.99 for the paperback and $7.99 for the Kindle version, the book features vintage photos and all-new interviews with the likes of Tony Platt (engineer of ‘Highway to Hell’ and ‘Back in Black’), Simon Wright (AC/DC drummer: 1983-1989), KK Downing (ex-Judas Priest guitarist), Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy guitarist), Bun E. Carlos (ex-Cheap Trick drummer), Michael Monroe (Hanoi Rocks singer), and Phil Anselmo (Pantera singer), among many others.
Greg Prato is a writer and journalist from New York, whose writing has appeared via such outlets as Songfacts, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and Consequence of Sound. He is also the author of several popular books, including ‘Take It Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked‘, ‘Touched by Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story‘, and ‘Iron Maiden: 80 8’ among many others. And you may have even heard him on one of his many radio or TV appearances, which include interviews on ‘The Howard Stern Wrap-Up Show,’ ‘Eddie Trunk Live,’ and ‘The Ron & Fez Show.’ ‘A Rockin’ Rollin’ Man: Bon Scott Remembered’ is his 30th book overall.
AC/DC and I go back a long way. My first gig was AC/DC at the Glasgow Apollo in 1979 on the Highway to Hell tour (especially mentioned for my photographer mate Graeme). And despite my AOR tendencies, this is the band that I hold closest to my heart. Therefore, with the trials (quite literally) and tribulations the band have went through in the last few years I was pretty apprehensive to say the least approaching this gig.
Not being familiar with the venue I arrived early and I am glad I did. Opening for AC/DC was Vintage Trouble who offer up a heady concoction of rock, blues and soul. They are a classic four piece fronted by Ty Taylor, who in my eyes is quite possibly the coolest guy in rock at the moment, and grabbed the crowd by the scruff of the neck and really got them moving. Much dancing and grooving was had while these guys ran through a repertoire that was very impressive. Decked out like he was fronting a big band in a red dinner jacket and with an old style mic, not only was Taylor a great singer he was a great front man and rally engaged what could have been a really partisan audience. Warmed us all up very nicely – my advice for the UK is get there early and check these guys out! And so to AC/DC!
The set opened with ‘Rock or Bust’ after a superb animated intro projected on the backdrop. And relax – it was business as usual and the guys didn’t miss a beat. Brian was strutting his stuff as well as any of his younger peers and possibly more than he has previously. ‘Shoot To Thrill’ quickly followed and the place was really rocking all over the joint. The band then dipped into the Bon era with ‘Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be’ and in my humble opinion Johnston handles this much better then he ever has. I don’t know if the band has tuned down a little but he sounded better on this than ever before. They then rolled out ‘Back in Black’ and the place erupted as you would expect.
After a short breather in proceedings ‘Play Ball’ was cranked out and sounded magnificent before ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ got an airing with Angus and Brian interacting more than I have ever seen previously, and looking like they were having a ball. There was a little gap and strangely no audience interaction in between this and ‘Thunderstruck’ which was a little annoying and happened a couple of times. And the classics just kept coming and sounding superb! These included ‘High Voltage’, ‘Hells Bells’, ‘Shook Me All Night Long’, ‘Sin City’, ‘Shot Down in Flames’ and ‘Have a Drink On Me’ and some more recent material in the shape of Rock’n’Roll Train (but disappointingly with no train) and ‘Baptism By Fire’ from the new album. Getting into the closing straights of the set the band rocked through a stonking version of ‘TNT’ and then introducing us to a large lady by the name of ‘Rosie’, with a small section of the crowd shouting Malcolm, Malcolm instead of Angus (well me and my mates anyway!). The set ended with Let There Be Rock’ and Angus strutting his stuff and doing ‘the solo’ and bring the night to a suitable crescendo. But of course that wasn’t it – we were treated to ‘Highway to Hell’. At this point I looked around the stadium which must have had 60000-70000 people and it was amazing to see how many flashing horns were lighting up the darkness. Whoever came up with that particular idea should be on a huge bonus! The finale of course was ‘For Those About to Rock’ with cannons and all and just blew the place completely.
So there you are reading this review and thinking, ‘huh, it is just the same old AC/DC stuff rolled out again’. And you know what? That is exactly the point! Sure, there were some subtle changes as clearly Brian has replace Malcolm as Angus’s partner in crime and this was obvious on stage as Brian seemed to share the spotlight more than usual with Angus. But there were families there with kids who were ten upto about fourteen and they were absolutely beside themselves at what they were seeing and hearing. All of us old gits forget that there are generations of AC/DC fans who might have never seen them live and that is why it so precious that it is the same old AC/DC. And if those kids left this evening with even half of the high I got back in 1979, then the effort these guys have made to roll out this tour is worth it. And me, well I was bouncing about like I was fourteen all over again with my mates. If I never see you again, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to have you as the soundtrack to my life. AC/DC – I salute you with all I can muster! And stuff the neigh sayers!