From the Archive: AC/DC's Angus Young Discusses Bon Scott and the 'Bonfire' Box Set
From 1998: AC/DC's Angus Young discusses the late Bon Scott and the 'Bonfire' box set.
Bon was an extremely gifted lyricist. Did he often fine-tune and rework lyrics? It’s difficult to be simultaneously clever and smutty, which was his trademark.
I don't think that "smutty" is exactly the right choice of words. I believe that the politically correct term is “sexist.” Intellectuals like to put a tag on it and say, “these guys are out-and-out sexist."
I've always found there's a two-sided thing when it comes to lyrics: someone can call a song "Sexy Motherfucker,” and be accepted, and yet we've been writing all songs all these years, and while there may be the rare "fuck" in the lyrics there somewhere, it's all been quite clean cut. Still, people just make the assumption that we’re five guys who've just got our dicks in mind.
People have frequently commented that for all the notoriety and things we got involved in, we could have capitalized on our reputation and said, "Oh yeah, we’re a piece of nasty work." But why bother?
Before joining AC/DC, Bon had been in several very pop-oriented bands, namely the Valentines. Was his singing in that group completely different?
You can hear that it's his voice, but he always said that those bands wanted him to be not what he was, and that we were the first people who ever said, "Bon, sing how you want to sing. If you want to scream, scream.” There was a tendency at the time for people to want to homogenize bands and make things fit into the bag of whatever was hot at that time. And when Bon was starting out, in the Sixties, during the time of the Beatles, that practice was rampant. Those guys wore suits and, the next day, everybody was wearing one. I even think that I've seen Neil Young in a Beatle clone suit. It spread all over the world.
Bon always called the stuff that he was doing back then "bubble gum" music. In the Valentines, he was put there because he had a good voice, as opposed to the guy who was the actual frontman, who was there for the image. Bon used to say, "In that band, I was a rhythm singer."
It's rumored that, around the time of his death, Bon was a little disgruntled and alienated from the band, even to the point of considering doing a solo album.
Naw. He was looking forward to making the next record which was to become Back in Black, and he came down to the studio several times and played drums while Mal and I worked out the guitar bits. The week he died, we had just worked out the music and he was going to come in and start writing lyrics. So no, I wouldn't say that he was disgruntled. He was itching to go.
When Bon died, you must have been terribly bereaved. Did you possibly feel some anger as well, as his death placed the band -- all that you had worked so hard to build -- in jeopardy?
No. The first emotion I had was total shock. I mean, we knew things with Bon were wild and hectic, but they always were. It was not a situation that I perceived to be life-threatening. I know that a few times he came close to being ill. To top it all off he had asthma, so there were a couple of times when you'd think, "The guy's pretty sick. He should be looking after himself a little bit." But a couple of days later, he'd be fine.
I think feelings of anger and things like that don't even enter your head. And at the time of the death of anyone who's close to you, you just feel at a total loss and wonder what the hell it's all about. At the time of Bon's death, I was in shock for days. And then all the other things start going through your head. You start thinking, “Jeez, I should have been near him." But never anger.
If you had to pick the most outrageous -- and printable -- thing that you ever saw Bon do, what would it be?
Well, there's a lot to chose from. And at the time there were a lot of stories told to me by buddies of his about things Bon had done that he'd certainly never related to me. I remember a time when somebody said to him, "I'll give you 10 bucks if you leap out the window into that pool downstairs." Mind you, this was in an apartment building -- and he did it. I grabbed the guy and said, "Don't you ever fucking dare Bon to do something again." Accepting dares was Bon's favorite party trick. He had no fear when it came to things like that.
You could fill books with all the stuff he did in a normal week. Some people would say, "That's outrageous." Others would think that it was disgusting.
Can you describe Albert Studios, where you recorded all of your studio albums up through Dirty Deeds, and where most of the outtakes on this box were tracked?
I'll tell you, the room where we used to record got demolished, but I liked it so much that I would have liked to have taken the fucking walls with me and kept them. A guitar just came to life in there. It was a little downtrodden, but it had a great vibe, this energy to it. There were other, fancier, studios in the building that they tried to get us to use. We would go in for a couple of weeks, but it was too polished and clinical, so we would high-tail it back to the Iittle box.
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