Monday, July 9th – today, if AC/DC frontman Bon Scott hadn’t died due to acute alcohol poisoning and choking in 1980, he would have been 66 years old. He would also be a part of one of the biggest rock acts in the known universe.
Scott joined AC/DC in 1974, just in time to record their first album, High Voltage. The entire process took 10 days to complete and garnered quite a bit of interest in the band’s native country of Australia. Most people in the West never heard the original version of High Voltage until it appeared as an EP in 1984, known as The Jailbreak EP. The International version of High Voltage released in 1976 after a lineup shift and better production work was a big smash for the band. They went to international rock stars nearly overnight, selling 3 million copies of the album in the US alone.
AC/DC pleased millions of hard rock and blues fans with showmanship, raunchy lyrics, some blazing guitar solos courtesy of founding member Angus Young. They still record and perform today and are one of the highest-grossing rock acts of all time, ranking 12 in the world as of 2010. They also have the 3rd highest selling album in music history – Back In Black to date has sold 49 million copies.
AC/DC has gone through several lineup changes (3 before they even published a single album), but many rock historians agree that Bon Scott is one of the greatest front men of all time. In the July 2004 issue of Classic Rock, Scott was rated as number one in a list of the “100 Greatest Frontmen Of All Time” ahead of Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant. Hit Parader ranked Scott as fifth on their 2006 list of the “100 Greatest Heavy Metal Vocalists” of all time.
Bon Scott died on Feb. 19th, 1980 just after he and Angus had begun writing tracks for the forthcoming album to be known as Back in Black. Upon the news, the band considered disbanding and never releasing the music they had been working on, but were convinced to try out a replacement singer by their U.K. management team, who had booked the singer’s band with AC/DC a few times in years past. Brian Johnson stepped in on vocals, and AC/DC unleashed a ferocious slab of hard rock through the airwaves that dominated sales and airwaves for years after. In all, it produced 5 singles – the title track, Hells Bells, Shoot To Thrill, You Shook Me All Night Long, and Rock n’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.
For this installment, we’ve chosen to present the band’s first video, from their International version of High Voltage. The performance of It’s a Long Way to the Top if You Wanna Rock n’ Roll was filmed in front of a crowd at Melbourne’s City Square, and features Bon on bagpipes.
We hope you enjoy this classic, and remember Bon Scott well for all he’s contributed to the world of rock.