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An Exclusive Excerpt from Jeff Apter’s new book: BAD BOY BOOGIE: THE TRUE STORY OF AC/DC LEGEND BON SCOTT

| 24 August 2021 | Reply

An Exclusive Excerpt from Jeff Apter’s new book: BAD BOY BOOGIE: THE TRUE STORY OF AC/DC LEGEND BON SCOTT


Presented by 100% ROCK MAGAZINE with kind permission of publishers Allen & Unwin Australia.

This is an edited extract from Bad Boy Boogie: The true story of AC/DC legend Bon Scott by Jeff Apter, Allen & Unwin, RRP $32.99, available now.

Chapter 9

‘When we met Bon for the first time, it was like we’d known him forever . . . He almost became a brother.’ — Malcolm Young


On the night of 2 May 1974, Bon was riding his bike, a Suzuki 550, in the backyard of the place he shared with the Howes when he came off, yet again. Bruce Howe pulled him aside.

‘Mate,’ he said, ‘you’re not going to last much longer if you keep doing this.’

Howe had no idea how prescient his comment would be. The next night, after a rehearsal with the Rangers, Bon turned up at the Old Lion hotel. He was drunk and in an aggressive mood. According to Vince Lovegrove, who was at the Old Lion, an argument ensued and Bon stormed out, smashing a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in the carpark before jumping on his Suzuki and roaring off into the night.

Somewhere past midnight, two grim-faced cops turned up on Irene’s doorstep with the news that Bon, who was still her husband (although she hadn’t seen him for almost two months), had been seriously hurt in a bike crash. He was in Emergency at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in very bad shape. Irene rushed to the hospital and when she caught a glimpse of Bon, she was stunned by the sight.

‘He was barely recognisable,’ she wrote, ‘a bloodied pool of smashed jelly.’

After emergency surgery, Bon was moved to intensive care and placed in an induced coma. His injuries were horrible and numerous: he had a broken arm, broken ribs and a busted collarbone; his jaw, too, had been smashed and he’d lost a lot of teeth. There were also myriad superficial injuries—grazes, scrapes and abrasions. He was a terrible mess. As Irene recalled, his face, purple with bruises, was unrecognisable; it was ‘covered in metal scaffolding’. At one point, a nurse handed Irene his broken and bloodstained helmet, thinking that Bon was dead.

‘It was a very close call,’ said Bruce Howe.

Within a few days Bon was conscious but in a massive amount of pain. He remained in the hospital for three weeks—when he was eventually released, his jaw was still wired shut. As a reminder of his very close call, he hung on to his bloodied motorcycle jacket. Another memento was a recurring shoulder injury that he was never able to shake. And to rub salt into his many wounds, he’d bought his now-wrecked bike on hire purchase and was forced to keep up the payments.

Mind you, he didn’t lose his sense of humour; Bon took a photo of himself, sans chompers, and sent it to some friends with the caption: ‘I left my teeth out on the road.’

Irene took him in, while Bon’s mother, Isa, flew in from Perth to help out. She slept in a spare bedroom at Irene’s house. Even though Isa knew they were separated, she real- ised that Bon’s recovery was the most important thing, so she didn’t mention their split. Bon’s brother Graeme also checked in on his brother, and in an interesting twist, he took up with Fay, Irene’s sister.

Bon turned 28 on 9 July, but this was hardly the type of celebration he’d hoped for, as he was still very much on the mend, and still without a band. He’d taken to smoking more pot than normal during his recovery and marked his birthday with a mixed grill of hash cookies and mushrooms. Even though he was slowly recovering and had taken a job with Lovegrove, who ran an agency called Jovan, Bon was at a low point, with no idea what to do next. He was Lovegrove’s odd-jobs guy, putting up posters for upcoming gigs and playing chauffeur to visiting bands, driving them around the city in an FJ Holden that had seen better days. One of those bands he looked after was named AC/DC.

‘Who are they?’ Bon asked Lovegrove.

‘Just some young, dinky little glam band from Sydney,’ he replied, and they both got back to work.

The lives of Malcolm and Angus Young had taken some interesting twists since the day that Ted Albert turned up in the family lounge room and enquired about their future. Both had come to the realisation that their bands—Velvet Underground in Malcolm’s case, Kantuckee in Angus’s— weren’t fulfilling their ambitions, so they’d joined forces in late 1973, much to the dismay of their parents. ‘You’ll kill each other,’ they warned the brothers, who, like most siblings, often clashed. Big brother George, back from a four- year stint in the UK, took on the role of band mentor.

Photograph by Phillip Morris. Used with permission.

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