Angus Dispels Rumor Bon Scott Sang AC/DC ‘Back in Black’ Songs

AC/DC‘s Back in Black saw the transition of the group from Bon Scott to Brian Johnson on vocals, but though he didn’t live to record the record, Scott did hear some of what would eventually end up on the album. In a new interview with Paste Magazine, guitarist Angus Young clarifies a bit of the timeline of how things went down with the record and Scott’s involvement.

While there has been talk over the years of Scott’s involvement in what would become Back in Black, Angus reveals that the singer never had a chance to sing on a song or record a track.

“Bon never really got the chance,” says Young. “At the time, me and Malcolm were writing songs, which became the songs for Back in Black. We were in London in a rehearsal room, and Bon had come down, too. And what used to happen was, me and Malcolm would get together and get a drum kit, and Malcolm would get behind the drums sometimes, and I’d get on the guitar and just tap out a riff. Or other times, Malcolm would get on the guitar and he’d get me to just knock out a simple beat on the drums.”

He recalls, “We were working away, and it was on an intro which was actually what became the intro for ‘Hells Bells.’ So Bon showed up, and Malcolm said, ‘Oh, great, Bon! You can get behind the kit!’ Because originally, Bon started as a drummer. So Bon got behind the drum kit so we could try and work out this intro, how we wanted to do it. So we sorted that out how we wanted, and the other one was ‘Have a Drink on Me,’ a riff Malcolm was playing around with. So we worked out the intro on that and how the song was gonna go. So he had Bon tapped to do a demo for that. So that was it, really.”

Young adds, “If you were looking up what Bon had done, it was really just to help us with those demos on the drums. And he even said to us, as we were knocking off in the night time, ‘Look, we’ll hook up next week.’ He’d been working on some lyrics, and said, ‘We’ll hook up next week and maybe the three of us can just start going through stuff.’ But unfortunately, he passed before that.”

Reflecting on that period of loss, Young stated, “That was probably the hardest moment for us as a band at that time—whether we continue or stop. Because, you know, Bon Scott, when he died—with his own unique style and character and how he performed—we knew we were not gonna find somebody as unique who’d lived that character. So the choice for us really was, we had to find somebody who we felt had their own different character, and we were lucky that Brian had that. He had his own unique character.”

Back in Black would become not only AC/DC’s biggest album but one of the biggest rock records in music history. The album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart back in 1980, but has since been certified as a Diamond record by the RIAA with over 25 million copies sold in the U.S.

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Angus Young Shoots Down Bon Scott ‘Back in Black’ Rumors

Angus Young said Bon Scott “never really got the chance” to contribute to AC/DC‘s Back in Black before his death, shooting down rumors that the singer performed early versions of some of the classic album’s songs.

In a new interview with Paste, Young noted that Scott’s contributions to the album were limited to playing drums on early demo versions of the songs “Hells Bells” and “Have a Drink on Me.”

Following the completion of the band’s tour in support of 1979’s Highway to Hell, Young and his bandmate brother Malcolm rented a rehearsal room in London to begin writing songs for the follow-up, taking turns playing guitar and drums. One day, Scott, who began his career as a drummer, dropped in while the duo was working on the intro to “Hells Bells.”

“Bon got behind the kit so we could try and work out this intro, how we wanted to do it,” Young recalled. “So, we sorted that out how we wanted, and the other one was ‘Have a Drink on Me,’ a riff Malcolm was playing around with. So, we worked out the intro on that and how the song was gonna go. ….That was it, really. If you were looking up what Bon had done, it was really just to help us with those demos on the drums.”

Plans were made for Scott and the Young brothers to continue work on the new songs in the near future. “He’d been working on some lyrics and said, ‘We’ll hook up next week, and maybe the three of us can just start going through stuff,'” Young said. “But unfortunately, he passed before that.”

Scott died on Feb. 19, 1980, choking on his own vomit after he passed out from a night of drinking. Six weeks later, AC/DC announced Brian Johnson as his replacement; in July, they released Back in Black, which went on to make the band global superstars. The album’s title and all-black cover were tributes to Scott, as were the church bells that ring solemnly four times before the opening guitar riff of lead track “Hells Bells.”

After enduring a series of health and legal challenges that seemed certain to end the band after the 2016 Rock or Bust tour, AC/DC regrouped and released the acclaimed Power Up last year.

You Think You Know AC/DC?

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Unearthed 1976 Bon Scott Interview Reveals How AC/DC Hired Him

Today (Feb. 19) marks 41 years since the untimely death of AC/DC singer Bon Scott. An audio interview with the legend, recorded in October of 1976, has now surfaced online, in which the frontman had a casual chat with journalist Ray Lancaster for his school’s newspaper and revealed how he wound up in AC/DC.

The 25-minute recording perfectly captures an era long gone by and offers a glimpse into the mindset of a now legendary rocker, early on in his career as AC/DC rose to prominence alongside a wealth of other major players in the rock scene at the time.

At the beginning of the conversation, which was conducted on Oct. 29, 1976, at the Birmingham Town Hall in the U.K., Scott and Lancaster found common ground while surveying some of the biggest names in rock — Neil Young, Patti Smith, The Rolling Stones — and generally agreed that the acts were a bore live.

What’s perhaps the most surprising is the relaxed nature of the interview. It’s clear that the two weren’t so much engaged in a rigid question and answer session, but instead joked around about other artists and come off as a couple people making idle chit chat at a bar.

When asked about his job outside of AC/DC, Scott laughed and recollected the job he held when he was “between bands,” looking for a new group to play with. He was hired by an agency to chauffeur bands to gigs around town for $10 a night.

“This was the first band I worked with,” he said, presumably referencing AC/DC, “and they knew I was sort of a screamer and they knew I was out of work and they hated the guy they had singing for them then, so they offered me a job.”

“I always knew I was something other than a worker,” he mused when asked if he always knew he was going to be a rock ‘n’ roll singer.

Listen to the complete audio interview below.

The surfacing of the audio comes as another treat for Bon Scott fans as the late singer’s recordings with his band Fraternity from 50 years ago were finally released.

Bon Scott Interview From Oct. 19, 1976

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Ted Nugent Refused Drugs From Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon, Bon Scott

Ted Nugent reinforced his antidrug views by saying he refused to accept substances from Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon and Bon Scott over the years.

The guitarist – whose disapproval of intoxication issues is well-known – reflected that he’d managed to avoid going down the same road through “luck” and added that he’s watched many of his musical heroes succumb to the negative effects of dabbling.

“My mom and dad were smoking, drinking alcoholics,” Nugent said in a Facebook Live interview with his son Rocco. “And I was surrounded, in the rock ’n’ roll world, by smoking, drinking, drugged idiots. So what’s the difference between a person that falls for that versus a person who defies that? I haven’t the faintest idea. … Some people look for an easy way out, and some people don’t. I didn’t. I think it was just shit luck. ‘Cause my brothers and sisters smoked and drank, and they didn’t even surround themselves with goofball rock ’n’ roll dirtbags. I did.”

Asked if he modeled himself on only clean-living musicians, Nugent cited his appreciation of Keith Richards to prove that wasn’t the case. “He’s a walking chemical dump, always stoned,” he said. “But he is so deep … so grinding in emotion and authoritative in his musicality. … Most of my influences got high right in front of me. … The MC5, they were all stumbling, puking, stupid drunk and stoned, and I admired them beyond description. But then it caught up with them. … I watched the drugs and alcohol destroy the energy that I admired, destroy the groove that I admired.”

Nugent described MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer as a close friend, but “I think to this day, he thinks that dope is essential. … I had a conversation with him not that long ago where we disagreed on the use of marijuana and other intoxicants. … The point is that, lucky me, I could differentiate between the delivery of the things I admired versus the … conduct of those that I admired.”

He noted that “Jimi Hendrix offered me his drugs, and I said no. John Belushi offered me his drugs; I said no. Keith Moon offered me his drugs and alcohol, and I said no. Bon Scott offered me his drugs and alcohol, and I said no. I said no to everybody.”

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