Bon Scott's brother speaks out for the first time: "He never worried about tomorrow"

Bon Scott wagging his finger at the camera
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Getty Images)

Bon Scott's brother has spoken publicly about the former AC/DC frontman's death for the first time. Derek Scott was interviewed for Australian Story: On The Brink - Bon Scott, a TV documentary broadcast last night (Monday) on the ABC network in Australia.

According to ABC, the documentary was "granted access to Scott's friends and family for the first time ever, who have delivered exclusive insights into his personality, vulnerability and state of mind leading up to his untimely death in 1980 in London."

ABC also state that the documentary includes "the first interview with former bandmate and housemate Bruce Howe, who noticed a big change in Scott in late 1979." [Howe, who was a member of Bon's pre-AC/DC bands Fraternity and the Mount Lofty Rangers, was interviewed by Classic Rock magazine for a feature published in 2021].

In the documentary, Derek Scott says that his family had been concerned about Bon's lifestyle, saying, "He did get bored very quickly. That was the biggest problem. When he got bored, he drank. He never worried about tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.”

Scott also recalls the moment the family heard about Bon's death, in a call from AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young. "[Mum] thought, ‘Oh, Ron’s ringing me to say happy birthday,’ which he often did the next day because of the time difference. Malcolm didn‘t have time to explain because it was hitting the airwaves and he didn’t want them to hear it on the radio. So he just said, ‘Ron died.’”

For his part, Howe suggests that Scott's lifestyle was most dangerous during periods of downtime between recording and touring. 

“That‘s when he would start taking risks, doing wild things,” he said. “On days when he was bored, there was no future, there was only now. He didn‘t give a bugger about whether he lived or died the next day. He’d try anything – magic mushrooms, marijuana, alcohol – and he would take risks on his motorbike."

In 2017, Australian journalist Jesse Fink published Bon: The Last Highway, in which he suggested that Bon Scott may have died after overdosing on heroin, although the coroner found that acute alcohol poisoning was the cause. 

Derek Scott says that "a lot of the stories that are written in the books are bullshit."

"He was the best rock and roll singer I've ever seen," Cold Chisel singer Jimmy Barnes says in the documentary. "To this day, I don't think there's a rock and roll singer in the world that can hold their own against him."

Watch the trailer for Australian Story: On The Brink - Bon Scott below.

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.