banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

BOOK REVIEW: BON: The Last Highway by Jesse Fink

| 9 December 2018 | 5 Replies

BOOK REVIEW: BON: The Last Highway by Jesse Fink
Ebury Australia
$34.99
Paperback, biography
November 2017

Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
4/10

Jesse Fink has written about AC/DC before, with his book The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC being published in twenty countries across ten languages, and it seems to have been successful enough for him to delve even deeper into his pet subject.

Bon: The Last Highway is subtitled “The untold story of Bon Scott and AC/DC’s Back In Black,” but it goes deeper still even than that.

With impressive investigative skills and a no-stone-left-unturned approach, Fink travels the world as he tracks down touring buddies, acquaintances, journalists, drinking pals, girlfriends and industry folk who all tell with alarming alacrity of their time with and around the force of nature which was Bon Scott.

Fink is not an objective detective, though: he has his own agenda and more than one axe to grind.

Resolute in his conviction that Bon’s death was the result of his far-worse-than-most-imagined heroin use & alcohol abuse, coupled with uncaring friends who dumped him rather than help him get to a hospital, he makes a strong case that there was a lot more than the commonly accepted story of alcohol involved in his tragic backseat of a car demise.

Similarly, he pours petrol on long-held rumours that Bon wrote the songs on Back In Black, the breakthrough album which was released just six months after his death. We’ve all long suspected that to be the case, and Fink pulls no punches making his case.

But to any long term fan, these are far from revelations, having been explored by Classic Rock Magazine and others in recent years.

There’s also a bitterness to Fink’s writing. He seems personally insulted at Bon’s allegedly gargantuan consumption of alcohol and hard drugs, and disdainful of his keeping a girl in every town on the hook. His scorn at fans who have a drink or leave a tinnie or bottle of liquor as a tribute at Bon’s Fremantle gravesite is, at times, shockingly derisive.

The AC/DC camp refused to allow Fink access to any current member of the band or their entourage or label for his last book, and possibly this is a source of bitterness for the author. It’s also possible that he feels the loss of one of the greatest rock frontmen of all time as keenly as many other fans. But the aggressively judgemental tone adopted by Fink at times is off-putting, and it has been difficult to wade through these 400-plus pages when he repeatedly gets combative.

That said, Fink’s evidence as presented is pretty conclusive – albeit circumstantial (presuming it is all true). That Bon Scott was taking hard drugs is practically a given, considering the times, and the lyrics on Back In Black are far more of his style than that of his replacement, Brian Johnson. But no amount of preaching from anyone should tarnish the reputation of the late singer, no matter how upset the author may be about the grittier side of his personal life.

Shane

Category: Book Reviews

About the Author ()

Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Jesse Fink says:

    I don’t normally respond to reviews, but this was a nasty one, and I’m wondering what your own agenda is, Mr Pinnegar? Apparently I have one, but you don’t actually spell out what it is, other than I ‘possibly’ harbour bitterness over lack of access to the band.
    A wild stab, but incorrect. I wrote it not needing their input. It was written on the assumption there would be zero input. This book was largely about Bon’s life away from the band and I spelled that out very early on in the book. Page 7, in fact: “This book was never intended to come from the point of view of the band or Bon’s two brothers and their families.”
    Did you miss it? Page 7.
    “But to any long term fan, these are far from revelations, having been explored by Classic Rock Magazine and others in recent years.”
    Yet the same Classic Rock magazine thought the book revelatory enough to put it on the cover of the December 2017 issue and devote 10 pages – 10 pages! – to my investigation, including the revelation (cough) there was a third person with Bon Scott and Alistair Kinnear back in East Dulwich, which you wouldn’t have known unless you read the book. The same Classic Rock called my book the ‘definitive account of what really happened’ during Bon’s final hours.
    So I’m actually really wondering whether you did read it.
    “He seems personally insulted at Bon’s allegedly gargantuan consumption of alcohol and hard drugs, and disdainful of his keeping a girl in every town on the hook.”
    Please, enlighten me where these passages are in the book, Mr Pinnegar? Bon: The Last Highway is probably the only book that has ever explored Bon’s alcoholism and drug addiction in depth, and I go to great trouble (interviewing Holly X, Silver Smith, Mick Jones and Roy Allen, etc) to show the human face of addiction and how Bon reached out for help but never got it. I also find the three women in his life who meant a great deal to him and give them a platform to show the side of Bon that doesn’t get talked about.
    “His scorn at fans who have a drink or leave a tinnie or bottle of liquor as a tribute at Bon’s Fremantle gravesite is, at times, shockingly derisive.”
    So leaving or pouring alcohol on an alcoholic’s grave is respectful? An alcoholic who was trying to give up drinking and sought help for his illness? I’m wondering where on the planet pouring alcohol on an alcoholic’s grave qualifies as a mark of respect?
    “No amount of preaching from anyone should tarnish the reputation of the late singer, no matter how upset the author may be about the grittier side of his personal life.”
    Again, show me passages where I am “upset about the grittier side of Bon’s personal life”. If I was so upset about it, why did I spend four years of my life trying to give the man the humanity and credit he deserved?
    I don’t mind negative reviews, so long as they are fair, but this was misleading and wildly unbalanced. I’m giving it 3/10. I look forward to your literary output.
    Regards, Jesse Fink

  2. Jason Smart says:

    What a load absolute rubbish your review is. First you say how impressive his detective & investigative skills are yet go on to talk about non objectiveness… what?!? Finding his girlfriend at the time, friends and acquaintances then putting all their testimony together and tying it in with his death & BIB is not being objective? I don’t recall Fink putting any ‘opinion’ across at all like Wall or Renshaw have and still do. At least Thorton & Evans were honest & not opinionated. I mustn’t know what objective is then I guess.
    Classic Rock is not the only one that’s speculated about Bon’s input on BIB. At least Fink used the evidence he dug up to tie it to BIB which no one to date has. I did not at any stage get the impression of bitterness in either of his two books on the subject, just a sense of pity for his loneliness. In my opinion I find nothing wrong with his sense of disgust at fans leaving grog on Bon’s grave. The guy wanted to stop and it killed him. That is unintentional disrespect on their part but is caused by the ‘Peter Pan’ syndrome create by people such as yourself and those that have an agenda to further their own personal aims that totally disrespects Bon’s memory.
    The AC/DC camp refusing to talk is nothing new; it is as old as the band itself. In fact anything official from the band only perpetuates the myths and outright lies.
    At least you got the last paragraph partially right….. all the preaching is done by all those that used Bon and continue to use Bon for their own agenda, including you. You don’t need to look far to find them.
    One thing I do know is, is that it is certainly not Fink.

  3. Shane says:

    Thanks for your response Jesse, and also Jason. Obviously I had a different take-away from the book than you, Jesse, as the author intended, and you, Jason, (presumably?) a reader had – and that’s great. Every work of creativity is open to interpretation by its readers and critic or no, this was merely my opinion.

    More power to you and all the best in your future endeavours.

  4. Jesse Fink says:

    Shane, it’s not opinion when you make sweeping statements such as “No amount of preaching from anyone should tarnish the reputation of the late singer, no matter how upset the author may be about the grittier side of his personal life.” It’s misrepresentation. I asked you to point to a passage that supports the above statement. You didn’t. Likewise: “He seems personally insulted at Bon’s allegedly gargantuan consumption of alcohol and hard drugs, and disdainful of his keeping a girl in every town on the hook.” Again, you don’t back it up. Take care.

  5. Shane says:

    Jesse, since I’ve already made the point that any review is merely opinion (and it is my opinion, whether your hurt feelings can see that or not), I don’t see that I need to spend hours poring over a book I didn’t enjoy and bookmark passages to back up my thoughts.

    As I have previously stated, I realise my opinion of the book is different to your intentions, and obviously a different response to that which some other readers may have.

    That’s perfectly fine – it’s part of the job. I’m not going to apologise for my review – it is exactly what I feel about the book. I’m not going to waste my time debating my review – it is what it is and I’m genuinely surprised you even care.

    If, as you seem to have obliquely alluded to in your earlier comment, you want to take some shots at me for my fiction writing when it’s published later in the year, then I think that is magnificently petty – but it is your right to do so.

    To suggest I have a personal agenda here rather than simply didn’t enjoy your book is ludicrous, as anyone who knows me and knows my work will attest. I have exactly zero hidden agendas in any area of my life, and as I’ve also previously stated – good luck with everything, man. Sincerely, all the best with your next book, whatever it might be. I mean that. Over and out.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad

Hit Counter provided by Acrylic Display