Bon Scott's pre-AC/DC bandmate remembers their wild times: “We nicknamed him Road-Test Ronnie. He tried it all!”

Singer Bon Scott from Australian rock band AC/DC posed in a studio in London in August 1979
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

It doesn’t take a leap to imagine that AC/DC’s wild, untameable force of nature original singer Bon Scott was also a wild, untameable force of nature in the years before fame cast a spotlight on him, and a former bandmate has given an insight into what Scott was like in his previous group. Before he found the perfect band for his rough and rowdy ways, the charismatic frontman was the singer in the Australian prog-rock group Fraternity. “Bon was ambitious, but it didn’t take predominance over having a good time,” Fraternity keyboard John Bisset told Classic Rock, reminiscing about sharing a house with Scott in Adelaide before the band relocated to England.

Bon was the hedonistic centre of the party, Bisset recalls, and a bit of a trailblazer when it came to recreational activities. “We nicknamed him Road-Test Ronnie, if someone came along with some new acid or new dope, he was game to give it all a try.” Although the acid scene at the time was predominantly hippie and vegetarian, Scott wasn’t a part of that side of it, laughs Bisset. “Even on an acid trip, you’d see him chomping on a leg of lamb.”

There was a sweeter side to this whirlwind of chaos too, says Bisset, as he recalls the days when Scott acted as an intermediary between Bisset and his wife. “He always took an interest in my son,” he states. “My wife and I used to fight a lot, and Bon was one of the few people who tried to help the situation.” Scott, he remembers, used to come round to their flat and do tricks for their son in the backyard, somersaulting his way round the garden. “It was just to bring some cheer to our family group.”

He didn’t limit his knack for off-stage entertaining to Bisset’s yard, though. Once Fraternity embarked on a tour of towns in South Australia and in one spot, kids were daring Scott to jump off the pier and into the jellyfish-swarmed water below. “Bon nonchalantly climbed to the highest point and bombed right into them. I don’t think he got stung at all.” 

It wouldn’t be his last splash: the AC/DC man had some big times ahead.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.