Remembering the time Bon Scott made a rival drink his urine. Out of a turkey

Singer Bon Scott from Australian rock band AC/DC posed in a studio in London in August 1979, with a turkey superimposed next to him
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images)

In June 1975, AC/DC were working out how to make the next step in what was becoming a meteoric rise. Debut album High Voltage, released a few months earlier, had been certified gold but whilst the band were gaining a diehard following for their thrilling live shows, success still felt largely limited to Melbourne and the surrounding area. They wanted more: they wanted the big time.

For that, Malcolm and Angus Young knew they’d have to work harder – no mean feat considering they were already playing four gigs a day, seven days a week. As documented in Murray Engleheart’s book AC/DC: Maximum Rock And Roll, headway was made when they were booked to play a series of lunchtime concerts at the Myer department store in Melbourne. Fans turned up in their thousands, the event cancelled just two songs in due to the chaos of the crowd, who wrecked the department store in a matter of minutes.

It meant the rest of the planned performances were shelved, but more than that it meant that word spread of the carnage-inducing rock rabble emerging in Victoria. Soon after, a concert in Sydney was promoted with the punchline, “AC/DC – they’re not a nice band”. Playing up to their mean streak was a masterstroke – the show was a roaring success and Sydney fell into line.

They continued to live up to a reputation of Aussie music’s anti-nice brigade when coming into contact with other bands. On the bill to perform at the King Of Pop awards, Bon Scott passed the time backstage by pouring champagne into a turkey and drinking from it. By the time he offered some to Sherbert frontman Daryl Braithwaite, though, the contents had been altered. Braithwaite accepted the present, unwittingly downing champagne that had been mixed with a special brew courtesy of Bon: his piss.

Scott’s approach wasn’t always quite so crude, though. When the band appeared on the teenage TV show Countdown, he wondered how best the group could make an impression. He disappeared until right before the taping began, and then emerged dressed a schoolgirl. It worked because, well, here we are decades later writing about it. Bon Scott knew how to up AC/DC’s game. And AC/DC knew how to better everyone else’s.

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.