On a trip back home to Australia, shortly before his tragic death on February 19, 1980, AC/DC frontman Bon Scott told an old friend and former bandmate that he’d “had enough of the whole circus” surrounding the fast-rising Aussie hard rockers.
With AC/DC’s fifth internationally-released studio album, Highway To Hell, released in the summer of 1979, becoming their first million-selling collection globally, and the Sydney quintet seemingly on the verge of a major international breakthrough, one might have imagined that their 33-year-old vocalist would have been relishing the prospect of leading ‘DC into a new decade. But that’s not how Sam See, Scott’s former bandmate in prog/country rockers Fraternity, remembers it.
“He looked everyone up on his last trip to Australia before he went back to London,” See recalled in the new issue of Classic Rock magazine. “I always thought that was a bit spooky. He said to me he’d had enough of the whole circus. By that point they’d had enough success that he could buy a pub and just rock out locally. I dunno.”
To See and his bandmates in Fraternity, their Scottish-born vocalist Ronald Belford ‘Bon’ Scott was ‘Ronnie Roadtest’, a “hard-drinking, hard-smokin’, rootin’, tootin’ rock and roll soldier.” But Fraternity’s guitarist/keyboard man recognised that there was more to the singer than his one dimensional public persona.
“He was a genuinely nice fella,” recalls See. “He just happened to be a rock star. A decent bloke who loved to party.”
Ultimately, it was this dedication to the ‘party’ lifestyle that caught up hard with Bon Scott in February 1980. The singer was found passed out in a friend’s car in East Dulwich after a night drinking heavily in popular North London venue the Music Machine. He was pronounced dead on arrival at King’s College Hospital in Camberwell.
“Bon was a great mate, just another one of the guys,” recalls John Freeman, another former Fraternity bandmate. “We all still miss him.”
For the full interview with Freeman and See, pick up the new issue of Classic Rock.