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Bon Scott Dies Of Acute Alcohol Poisoning At Age Of 33
February 19th, 1980

Bon Scott

Bon Scott died of acute alcohol poisoning on February 19th, 1980 at the age of 33.

Bon Scott was the vocalist for Australian hard rock group AC/DC. Following an evening of heavy drinking at London, England venue the Music Machine, Scott passed out. The singer was left to sleep in a Renault 5 car, a vehicle owned by an acquaintance of Scott’s. Named Alistair Kinnear, Kinnear resided at 67 Overhill Road in East Dulwich, South London. Kinnear found Scott lifeless the following afternoon, alerting authorities. Albeit rushed to King’s College Hospital in Camberwell, Scott was pronounced dead on arrival.

Pulmonary aspiration of vomit was cited as the cause of Scott’s death in subsequent years, although the official cause was listed as “acute alcohol poisoning” on the death certificate, the frontman’s passing deemed as “death by misadventure”. Scott’s body was embalmed by Desmond Henley, and later cremated. His ashes were subsequently interred by family members at Fremantle Cemetery in Fremantle, Western Australia.

To mark what would have been Scott’s 60th birthday, the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board completed refurbishments on the Bon Scott Grave Area on July 7th, 2006. These refurbishments included a Bon Scott Arch and Memorial Entrance gate off Carrington Street in the north-west corner of Fremantle Cemetery. Two days later on what would have been his 60th birthday, a bronze plaque was stolen from the site. In February 2008 – 28 years following Bon Scott’s death – the National Trust of Australia decreed that his grave be included on the list of classified heritage places.

Four days previous to his death – on February 15th, 1980 – Scott had attended a recording session for AC/DC’s sixth international studio full-length album. Rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young and lead guitarist Angus Young worked on the beginnings of two compositions, Scott stepping behind the drumkit for the session as opposed to lending vocals or penning lyrics. These two tracks were ‘Have A Drink On Me’ and ‘Let Me Put My Love Into You’, versions of which later appeared on July 1980 effort Back In Black.

AC/DC had briefly considered disbanding shortly following Scott’s death, but eventually opted to continue. Geordie vocalist Brian Johnson was hired as Scott’s replacement, his first recordings as part of AC/DC appearing on the aforementioned Back In Black. The tracks ‘Hells Bells’ and ‘Back In Black’ were dedicated to Scott’s memory.

Ronald Belford Scott’s initial musical endeavour was pop group The Spektors, the man having joined in 1966 as drummer and occasional lead singer. A brief venture for Scott, The Spektors merged into The Valentines, a pop outfit in which he was co-lead vocalist with Vince Lovegrove.

In 1970, Scott moved to Adelaide, joining progressive rock ensemble Fraternity. Two albums would surface, namely Livestock (1971) and Flaming Galah (1972). Fraternity disbanded following a 1973 UK tour, where the group supported Status Quo and Geordie under the moniker Fang. Shortly following this, Scott was associated with Mounty Lofty Rangers, lending vocal parts to the songs ‘Round & Round’ and ‘Carey Gully’ (later released in 1996).

On October 24th, 1974, Scott replaced Dave Evans as vocalist of AC/DC. Scott had been recommended by erstwhile The Valentines bandmate Vince Lovegrove, who had received a telephone call from George Young – elder brother of Malcolm and Angus Young, and songwriter of several tracks recorded by The Valentines – Young explaining that AC/DC sought a new vocalist. The month before in September, AC/DC had performed at the Pooraka Hotel in Adelaide, Australia. Scott met AC/DC backstage, this culminating in a jam session that night at the home of former mentor Bruce Howe.

Inaugural LP High Voltage was issued in Australia during February 1975, second outing T.N.T. arriving in December of that year – the latter was the first AC/DC album to feature drummer Phil Rudd. An international version of High Voltage came in May 1976, essentially a compilation of tracks from those first two Australian efforts. Additional records followed, namely Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976), Let There Be Rock (1977), Powerage (1978) – Powerage marking the debut of bassist Cliff Williams – live opus If You Want Blood You’ve Got It and Highway To Hell (1979). Highway To Hell reached position 17 on the Billboard 200 and was AC/DC’s most successful record up until that point; produced by Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange, its title track became a staple of the band’s live repertoire.

Scott was survived by his parents Isabelle and Charles as well as siblings Derek, Graeme and Valerie.