"He looked as fit as a butcher's dog": Watch Bon Scott's surreal final UK appearance with AC/DC

Bon Scott on Top Of The Pops
(Image credit: BBC)

In February 1980, Just 12 days before his death, Bon Scott appeared in front of a UK audience with AC/DC for the last time. 

The band had brought their Highway To Hell tour to a successful conclusion at Southampton's Gaumont Theatre in late January, but Scott's final trek with the band had been a struggle. The band's US booking agent Doug Thaler (later Motley Crue's manager) reported that "Bon was in rough shape. He was drunk most of the time, or sleeping it off so he could sober up and get drunk again. He was starting to have a real problem.“

Scott needed a steadying influence, and at the Southampton show he may have met her: a Japanese girl named Anna. They immediately began a relationship, and she moved into his apartment in Ashley Court, a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace. Anna reportedly managed to get Scott off the whiskey (replacing it with sake), and on February 6 she accompanied him to the filming of long-running BBC music show Top Of The Pops, where the band were scheduled to perform their new single, Touch Too Much

BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Wright, who was making his debut appearance as a presenter on the show, made the introductions. Joining AC/DC in the studio were The Tourists, The Boomtown Rats, The Nolans, The Chords, The Regents, The Selector, Buggles and Joe Jackson. 

Remarkably, it was the only time Bon Scott performed Touch Too Much with the band, miming to an edited version of the original. Perhaps more remarkably, the song wouldn't be played live by the band until 2016, during Axl Rose's tenure as Brian Johnson's replacement.

The Top Of The Pops footage is surreal, as AC/DC's usual audience of denim-clad headbangers is replaced by an eager posse of teenage girls dancing in precisely the same way as they had to the Nolan sisters' I’m In The Mood For Dancing five songs earlier. But Bon doesn't seem too bothered, performing with an occasionally lascivious smile and a mischievous glint in his eye.  

Curiously, Brian Johnson, who got the call to replace Scott six weeks after his death, was watching that episode of Top Of The Pops when it was broadcast the following day. In his biography, The Lives of Brian, he revealed that he thought his predecessor looked "as fit as a butcher's dog" during the show. 

Two days later, Scott made his final appearance with the band, appearing on the Aplauso TV show in Madrid, Spain. Touch Too Much was gone. And instead, the band mimed their way through Beating Around The Bush, Girls Got Rhythm and Highway To Hell. 

10 days later he was gone. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.