Ronald Belford “Bon” Scott was born in Scotland on July 4th, 1946 and lived there until his family moved to Australia while he was still a child. As a young adult Scott would become a familiar face around the developing rock scene. He formed his first band, The Spektors, in 1964 serving as drummer and sometimes lead singer.
Scott also played in numerous other groups including Fraternity and The Valentines. In 1974 he would have a successful audition to play drums for a band with a then-innocuous name AC/DC. The group’s popularity grew during the 1970s, first in Australia and then across the globe.
Scott actually aspired to be the group’s lead singer. So when frontman Dave Evans failed to show for a gig Scott jumped at the chance to replace him. Scott put on an incendiary performance as the lead singer and the position became permanent as the band went on to truly redefine the concept of “three-chord, heavy metal rock”.
Their 1975 premiere platter, High Voltage, took the Billboard charts by storm and jolted the jaded eardrums of radio audiences everywhere. Four more albums (featuring Scott) would hit the record racks by 1979. Each one was more hotly anticipated than the last as ACDC became international rock stars.
In fact, their 1979 album Highway to Hell rose to the top twenty in the US and the group seemed to be poised on the edge of a commercial breakthrough. Scott and the others quickly began developing a new album that would eventually be known as Back in Black. Unfortunately for Scott, he would not live to see the great success that awaited the band in the next decade.
On February 19th, 1980, Scott passed out after an all-night drinking binge in a London club called the Music Machine (currently known as the KOKO). His fellow partiers left him to sleep in a Renault 5 owned by Alistair Kinnear, a friend. The next day, Kinnear found Scott and called the police.
Scott was rushed to King’s College Hospital where he was pronounced D.O.A. (dead on arrival). His cause of death was pulmonary aspiration of vomit and was officially listed as “acute alcohol poisoning” and “death by misadventure”. Inconsistencies in media reports regarding Scott’s death have been noted in conspiracy theories that claim Scott died from alcohol poisoning or was killed by exhaust fumes redirected into the vehicle and that Kinnear was not even real.
Furthermore, Scott was asthmatic and the temperature was below freezing the morning he died. In a documentary titled Don’t Blame Me Ozzy Osbourne suggests that Scott really died of hypothermia. Whatever the truth may be, Bon Scott, dead at 33, was cremated and his ashes were buried near his old stomping grounds at Fremantle Cemetery in Fremantle, Australia.
His grave site has reportedly become a cultural landmark. So much so that almost three decades after his death, the National Trust of Australia decreed his grave important enough to be included on the list of classified heritage places. It’s said to be “the most visited grave in Australia” and the first plaque was stolen from the site in 2006.
Five months after his death, the band completed and released Back in Blackas a tribute to Scott. Two tracks, “Hells Bells” and “Back in Black”, were specifically dedicated to his memory. It’s currently the second best-selling album in history, behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
The group also put out a box setnamed Bonfireas further tribute to Scott in 1997. It includes four LPs: a remasteredversion of Back in Black; a “rarities”, Volts, disc that features alternate takes, outtakes, and various live cuts and even a couple of live recordings–Live from the Atlantic Studiosand Let There Be Rock: The Movie. AC/DC’s Bon Scott, slotted in as number one on the UK publication’s Classic Rock’s 2004 list of “100 Greatest Frontmen,” ahead of Robert Plant and Freddie Mercury and has not been forgotten in the end.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.