AC/DC: The Mysterious Death of Bon Scott
Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at the mysterious death of AC/DC frontman Bon Scott who would pass away in 1980 just as the band were in London recording “Back in Black.” Check out the video below for the full story!
What’s going on my fellow rock n’ rollers. Don’t forget to hit the bell notification icon to be notified every time i upload a new video on my channel. While the demise of Bon Scott may seem like a straight forward death by misadventure story on the surface, there’s been many conflicting accounts over what actually happened IMO Bon Scott’s death is one of rock n’ rolls greatest mysteries.. Almost 40 years after his death new details continue to emerge of what happened on his last night alive. Stay tuned to find out the full story.
Few bands have done what AC/DC has accomplished. The band has managed to stay relevant for the past 40 years and they survived tragedy after tragedy with band members passing away, the media blaming them for both fan deaths and for allegedly inspiring a serial killer. One of the first tragedies the band dealt with was the death of frontman Bon Scott.
The story of what happened to Bon Scott is built from the recollections of several people named Alistair Kinnear, Joe Fury and Silver Smith. These three people all have something do with the drug smack, something Scott was alleged to have used by some. The rest of the story of what happened to the singer is based off the testimonials of the members of AC/DC, UFO and a Japanese girl named Anna Baba who briefly dated the singer in the run up to his death.. Although it’s important to note Anna wasn’t allegedly with Bon the night of his death.
Born in Scotland in 1946, Scott’s family would move to Australia when he was just 5 years old. He learned music at a very young age, first taking up the drums. He dropped out of high school at age 15 to start his first band The Spektors who would merge with another local band and become the Valentines. Scott took a bigger role in singing becoming the co-vocalist and the group scored a few hit songs on the local and national charts, but by the end of the decade the band disbanded due to artistic differences.. In 1970 the then drummer and occasional singer moved to Adelaide where he fronted a progressive rock band called Fraternity. By 1973 the band changed their name to Fang and would be touring the UK where they were a supporting act to the band Geordie whose frontman Brian Johnson would coincidentally enough replace Scott in AC/DC following his death.. Prior to the UK tour Scott married his first wife a local named Irene Thorton whom he met the previous year
In 1974 Scott would suffer a devastating motorcycle injury that left him in a coma and put his career as a drummer in jeopardy. After he would be released from the hospital he would take up odd jobs including being a chauffeur for a local band named AC/DC who just happened to be on the search for a new singer. He would become the band’s frontman in 1974 and the following year the group released their their first album with Scott titled High Voltage and the band made their TV debut with the singer on local musical program show called Countdown where they performed the song Baby Please Dont Go which featured Scott dressed as a school girl which complimented guitarist Angus Young signature school boy outfit. The band would release several subsequent albums, but it would be their 6th album 1979’s Highway to hell which would first record to break the US Top 100 charts and make AC/DC one of the most popular rock acts in the world.
The tour to support the record would be the band’s final with Scott who would die three weeks following the group’s last show in Southampton in the UK.
Scott was in London in February of 1980 working on the group’s upcoming Back in Black album. He was living in a flat with his new Japanese girlfriend, Anna Baba, but also in the picture was his former girlfriend an Australian named margaret Silver Smith who was involved in the drug scene which we’ll talk about later in this story..The daytime was for recording while the nights were for partying. On February 15th Scott was in the studio with the Young Brothers who were working on two songs “Have a Drink On Me” and “Let Me Put My Love Into You” with Scott playing on drums instead of singing or writing lyrics.
On the night of February 19th, Scott was with several friends at the Music Machine Club. The events of that night are heavily debated, but the official story goes as follows;
Scott invited his ex-girlfriend Margaret Smith (who also went by the name Silver Smith) to see a band at a club named Dingwalls in Camden. Instead she sent her friend Alastair Kinnear who was either a fellow musician or rock journalist depending on who you ask. Kinnear and Scott would end up at a different club that night called the music machine not too far from Dingwalls. Kinnear was allegedly the last person to see Scott alive
The official story goes
That after leaving the Music Machine Kinnear drove Bon back to the singer’s flat,but Bon had already passed out, so Kinnear turned the car around and drove back to his house in southeast London.. Kinnear parked the car, a french supermini Renault (rano) 5 outside his flat. Kinnear called up Silver Smith asking her what to do with Bon and she suggested to leave him in the car since it wasn’t out of the ordinary for the singer to pass out after a heavy night of drinking.. Kinnear would claim to the London Standard a few days after Bon’s death “I just could not move him,” “so I covered him with a blanket and left him a note to tell him how to get up to my flat in case he woke up.” kinnear would also claim he put bon on his back in a more comfortable position.
Bon would never wake up again – dying at the young age of 33 after just 5 years into his stint with AC/DC. Kinnear alleges he awoke early in the evening on the 20th and checked on Scott and found him unresponsive in the car. He rushed Bon to King’s College Hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival. The official cause of death from the King’s College Coroner’s office was acute alcohol poisoning. The toxicology report made no mention of drugs.
Strangely when Kinnear found, Bon’s body it was was not in the laid back position he had been left in. According to author Clinton Walker, who wrote the book Highway to Hell: The Life and Death of AC/DC legend Bon Scott described how the body was found saying:
‘His body was curled around the gearstick, his neck twisted, his dental plate dislodged. The bile rose up in his throat and blocked his asthmatic windpipe.’
Now we get to the conflicting statements.
Two days after Bon’s death, Kinnear in the same London Evening Standard article revealed what happened the night before Scott’s death saying “I met up with Bon to go to the Music Machine, but he was pretty drunk when I picked him up. When we got there, he was drinking four whiskies straight in a glass at a time.”
Not everybody agrees with Kinnear’s recollection of events because Also at the Music Machine that evening with Bon was original AC/DC drummer Colin Burgess who told author Murray Engleheart who wrote the book AC/DC Maximum Rock N’ Roll., Burgess remembered Scott not being drunk at all saying” I can definitely say, to this day, that when we left, he was definitely not drunk at all.”
“And we went home, and the next day he’s dead! To me it’s just a really, really strange thing.” : “
Scott wasn’t the first rockstar to die this way. Jimi Hendrix died the same way 10 years prior and Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died in the same manner a few months later in 1980.
Scott’s biographer Jesse Fink who wrote the book “Bon: The Last Highway” also disputes the official story saying
“He was a prodigious (pradijus) drinker. The idea that seven double whiskeys would put him in the ground seems a strange notion.”
The confusion around his death gave rise to some to claim that he may have been murdered with some believing the band wanted to get rid of the singer.
Also adding to the mystery was that Kinnear disappeared a few days after Bon died and strangely his flat was ransacked. Kinnear would never be heard from again. Some have even casted doubt wheather Alistair Kinnear was a real name or an alias or an amalgamation of several people who may have been with Scott the night of his death.
Now we get to another confusing part of the story, which was the involvement of the band UFO in his death. Some reports suggested that on the evening that Bon died he was suposed to meet up with UFO members Phil Mogg (mahg) and Pete Way. According to Classic Rock writer Geoff Barton Peter Mensch,who was at one point AC/DC’s manager criticized the members of UFO for being a bad influence on Bon. The members of UFO were hard partiers and dabbled in smack and claimed that Bon was around at those times but couldn’t recall whether he used the drug. Both UFO and AC/DC had toured together with AC/DC being the openers.
According to Pete Way he claimed he informed about the death of Bon Scott on Tuesday Morning, but Alistair Kinnear claimed he discovered Bon’s body on the evening of Tuesday at quarter to eight.
Also adding to the confusion over his death was smack. While the three people connected to Scott were involved with the drug AC/DC claimed the singer never used, but two books cast doubt on that. Scott’s biographer Jesse Fink’s interviewed those who new Bon and claimed he was dabbling in the drug around the time of his death and pointed to two near death experiences with it during the mid 70’s. Fink would conclude that the drug basically contributed to the singer’s death.h saying“Basically he had a third overdose and this time it got him, that’s the conclusion I come to,”Fink claimed. Scott also wouldn’t die a rich man with only $30,000 in his name. Fink’s book also claimed that Scott and Kinnear were not alone at Kinnear’s house as there apparently there were two other people staying at Kinnear’s house including , Zena Kakoull and her husband rock musician Peter Perrett., while Scott slept in the car
Following Scott’s death the band would soldier on hiring new singer Brian Johnson and there follow up album to Highway to Hell Back in Black would come out in late 5 months after Bon’s death and serve as a tribute to him.
Angus Young would tell VH-1’s behind the music “We wanted just a simple black cover,” “We wouldn’t have even done him justice in words. Even the bell in the beginning of ‘Hell’s Bells’ was our little tribute.”
Released in the summer of 1980, Back in Black went on to make AC/DC international superstars, and remains one of the biggest selling albums of all time.
Some would that Scott had written some of the song’s on Bakc in Black but was uncrdited. An ex-girlfriend of his claims to have seen his journals and notebooks with lyrics to the infamous You Shook Me All Night Long prior to his death. It would even be claimed in the recently released ac/dc book