AC/DC was formed in November of 1973. (the same year as my birth.) That is what I have in connection with my favorite Rock and Roll band. The band got it's name from the back of a sewing machine that was owned by Margaret. She is the elder sister of Malcolm and Angus Young. She suggested to name the band AC/DC. The rest is history...
To tell you more about this group is Susan Masino. She wrote a book called "Let There Be Rock", and it deals with her experiences with AC/DC. She was in for a huge surprise and as a result a friendship was born. Till this day she remains close with one of the greatest bands in history. I had the opportunity to chat with Susan about the charismatic frontman Bon Scott, the band, and her book.
Now I'll let her do the talkin'.
I read that you're a journalist, so what was your thoughts when you had to cover a story on AC/DC?
Well, I discovered AC/DC when I was asked to assist the promoter who booked them into a club here in Madison, Wisconsin.
What year was that?
That was actually on the day Elvis died, August 16, 1977.
Did you know who they were at the time?
No, I had no idea who they were. I had never heard of them before I got to the club.
When you met the band. What was your first impression? How did you
feel about hanging around a group of guys that are larger than life?
Well, at the time they weren't larger than life over here, because they were unknown in the States. To me, they were just another rock band traveling around in a used station wagon with three guys following in a truck filled with equipment. While I was waiting for the band to return to the club from having dinner, I read their promotional materials. With their pictures and a statement that read, "AC/DC has started brawls from one end of Europe to the other..." I was terrified to meet them!
Can you describe in your own opinion each of the band members? For
example, Were they cocky? Down to earth?, etc...
When the band did arrive, I was leaving the dressing room, pointing out where the snacks and drinks were. I thought the farther away from the band I was, the better. A guy with dark shaggy hair with tattoos up and down his arms walked in, stopped right next to me, looked me in the face and yelled, "Sit!" I grabbed the closest chair to me, and sat down. Then he went over and poured two glasses of wine, walked back to me, handed me one and said, "Hi, I'm Bon Scott. You must be Sue." I ended up spending hours hanging out with the band that night, and they were a complete joy to be around. They cracked jokes, teased me, and were very down to earth and unassuming. Although I have to say they knew how good they were. And after I saw them play, I could see why they felt that way!
From what I've read about Bon he was an outgoing guy and quite a
lady's man. Did he ever pick up on you?
That is all very true. Women loved Bon. You couldn't help but love him. Once I saw him walk out on stage and perform, I fell in love with him myself. The night I recorded an interview with them, in December of 1977, Bon said, "If you write anything bad about us, I'll f*** you silly." So yes, Bon did offer himself to me a couple of times. I can't tell you how much I regret not taking him up on his offer!
How long did you hang out with AC/DC? Did you go on the road with
them at any point of their career? If you did... What was the journey
I got to hang out with AC/DC every time they played in the Madison/Milwaukee/Chicago area from August 1977-October 1979. I still hang out with them after the show when I see them on tour. I had the chance to travel on the bus with them several times, but always refused. I knew once I was on the bus, that our relationship wouldn't stay platonic. And I was determined to stay on a professional level with them. I knew they were going to be a huge success, and I wanted to be friends with them forever.
What did you least like about Bon? Besides, the fact that he drank a
lot. Did he have other weaknesses? What did you like most about Bon?
What were his good qualities?
I honestly can't say there was anything I liked least about Bon. He always made me laugh no matter what was going on. I suppose looking back on it, I wish he didn't drink as much as he did. He was a small man, and was able to consume large amounts of alcohol. But he was never a mean when he got "pissed up." What I loved most about Bon, was that he was always kind, friendly and would do anything to make you laugh. Once when my friend Barry Taylor, (AC/DC roadie), called me from some phone booth on the road in Scotland, Bon was in the background trying to mess with him. He made us both laugh so hard, we had to hang up!
Correct me if I'm wrong but was Bon the oldest member of AC/DC? Was
he like a big brother to any of his other band mates?
Bon was 9 years older than me and Angus, who is the youngest member of the band. He had experienced some success with Fraternity and The Valentines, and had already played in England. When he joined the band, he was very much a big brother to the rest of them. They all looked up to him, and he set the tone for the band and their performances. At the end of the interview I did with them, (which is on tape), Bon decides to get up and leave. Each band member begs him to stay and not spoil the party. As soon as Bon walks out of the room, the interview was over. Although all he did was go into the next room and sit on his head in a chair and fart at the rest of us. And I'm not kidding...
What was the band's first impression on you? Did they treat you any
different from other journalists'? Who did you click with the most? Who
did you click with the least?
I think the band was amused that I was there to help them out at the club that night. They cracked jokes that "the promoter told us you would do whatever we wanted," which got a huge laugh. That night I actually told them that within 2-3 years, they would be huge and someday they would be as big as The Rolling Stones. They thought that was the funniest thing they had ever heard. As it came true over the years, they always remembered that I had said that. The whole band always treated me like a little sister, who they liked to tease. We've never had a problem picking on each other. I think I clicked the best with Angus, Malcolm and Bon. Phil I got to know over the years, because my friend Barry worked with him. Cliff I didn't get to know that well, because he was always very quiet and polite. Now when Angus and I get together, we sit down and talk like we just saw each other last week.
In the documentary 'Let There Be Rock' Bon mentions that he was a
chauffeur for the band before joining AC/DC. Coming from him, I take it
as truth. What was the line up before Bon Scott? What year did Bon join
Bon did run them around in his car, but was never their official chauffeur. Before Bon joined in 1974, Dave Evans was the original singer for the band.
Is there any Bon Scott story that you feel like sharing that you
haven't told anybody?
Some people might think this is crazy, but I have had several visitations from Bon in my dreams since he died. Two in particular, which were very vivid. He also made his presence known in my home while I was writing my book. I think he was making sure he was portrayed properly. I wrote 300 pages, and 200 made the book. I laughed when I first saw the edited draft, because almost everyone word I wrote about Bon remained intact.
Do you remember what you were doing on February 19, 1980? How did
you hear about the news of Bon's death? What was your instant reaction?
Did you call the band...? Etc...
That day I was actually driving up to the hospital to pick my mother up. She was dying from cancer, and this would be her last time she came home. I was blasting an AC/DC song on the radio and when the song ended, the DJ said, "And that was in tribute to the late Bon Scott, who was found dead today in car in London." I couldn't believe he actually said that, and had to pull off to the side of the road to cry. I didn't call the band, but I did talk to my friend Barry who had just quit the band in January of 1980. We were both stunned and couldn't believe it. When I saw the band in September of 1980 on the Back In Black tour, they were very quiet about it. I think they wanted Brian to feel comfortable, so they were eager for me to meet him, and Angus' new wife, Ellen.
How did the band feel about Bon's death?
I know it was one of the greatest tragedies of their lives. They all loved Bon, and he was the heartbeat of the band. His humor, his lyrics, his attitude is what AC/DC is all about. He believed in enjoying life to the fullest. And he lived every day as if it were his last. Ten years after he died, when Angus and I were looking at the pictures of us at Alpine Valley back in 1978 when they were opening for Aerosmith, he instantly teared up and said to me, "Bon looked great then, didn't he?" It was a very emotional moment for the both of us.
Did you go to his funeral? Where is he buried?
No, I didn't attend his funeral, although I wished I could have been there. Bon was cremated and his ashes were buried in the cemetery in Fremantle, Australia on March 1, 1980.
Did you know about the unveiling of a bronze statue in Bon Scott's
honor on February 24th 2008? Do you have any information about that?
Yes, I have known about that for several years actually. I have been in contact with Doug Thorncroft, who runs the Western Australian Bon Scott Fan Club, and he has been campaigning for that for quite some time. He personally got the city of Fremantle to erect a gate to the path that leads to Bon's grave, and a bronze statue of Bon was his idea.
Bon Scott saw Brian Johnson sang at a gig once, and said that he
would want Brian to be AC/DC's frontman if something were ever to happen
to him. Isn't that ironic?
It's very ironic, considering Bon got the idea of carrying Angus around on his shoulders from Brian, who was doing that with the guitarist in his band, Geordie. Also, the band didn't immediately think of Brian when Bon died. A fan from the States actually mailed a cassette of Geordie to AC/DC's management, and that's how Brian got the audition.
Is it true that Bon started writing lyrics to the 'Back In Black'
Yes, he was working on lyrics. He reportedly had a notebook full of ideas for Back In Black, and he also went into the studio a couple of times before his death to jam with Angus and Malcolm on a couple of the tunes.
What are your thoughts of Brian Johnson?
I personally think Brian Johnson was born to take Bon's place. He is very much like Bon, in the way that he is humble, down to earth, and always trying to make you laugh. I can see why the band immediately felt comfortable with him.
I hear rumors that they're coming out with a new album this year? Is
Cliff Williams just appeared at Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in L.A., and told the owner, David Fishof, that the band plans to start recording in Vancouver in March.
What's your favorite tune with Bon? How about with Brian?
One of my all-time favorite Bon tunes is Let There Be Rock. His lyrics are so prophetic, and the band's jam on that song is relentless. My favorite with Brian would have to be "Hells Bells," because that was the first song I heard him sing live with the band. Even today, it can still send chills up my spine when I first hear it.
Do you still keep in touch with the band today?
I usually see them when they're on tour, but I did get to hang out with Brian and Cliff last July in Clearwater, Florida when they were playing with the Classic Rock Cares tour. It was a dream come true for me, because I found out that Brian's wife thought my book was "Fooking brilliant." Brian gave me a hug and a kiss and told me I did a great job. Then when he signed a sheet of paper that I was collecting autographs on, where he wrote, "A crackin' roller coaster of a read!" I also gave Cliff a copy of my book that night, and he called me a few days later to thank me for bringing back so many memories for him.
You've written a book about your experiences with AC/DC. What can
you tell me about that?
The fact that I got to write a biography of AC/DC was the ultimate honor for me. I was actually hired by Music Sales Group to write it. They publish AC/DC's tablature books, and were looking for someone to write an updated version of AC/DC's history. The last one they had done was written by the late Mark Putterford and published in 1996. Being closer to the band than most journalists, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The introduction to the book tells the very amazing way of how I met the publishers. All I can say is, that story brings synchronicity to a whole new level. Since I have known them now for 30 years, and am the only woman to write a book about them, and the entire experience has been a life changing experience for me. My goal for the book was to make sure their fans know how incredibly kind and funny they are as people. Judging by the letters I get from their fans, particularly the younger ones who weren't even around when Bon was alive, I think I did my job!
Any last thoughts or comments about Bon, AC/DC, or your book before
To say how much I love AC/DC, can't really be put into words. They have been such an inspiration for me over the years. I think AC/DC is the greatest rock and roll band in the world. Bon Scott was one of the most charismatic singers ever, and a genius at writing lyrics. No matter how much they have done, or how much success they have earned along the way, they still treat me as sweetly as they did the day I met them in 1977. It's also hard to believe no one has ever used the title Let There Be Rock for a book before. That alone is divine intervention! I simply can't imagine my life without their music or their friendship.
You can get more information about Susan and her book, at www.susanmasino.com, www.storyofacdc.com and www.myspace.com/SusanMasino.
Several years ago I got a tattoo to commemorate Bon's honor. That's my tribute to the man! I showed a picture of my tatt00 to Susan and she said "Great tat! It looks very cool!" Thanks Susan!!!!
RIDE ON BON.