I’m starting a new project. It’s all about Bon Scott, the singer from AC/DC. He died in 1980. During the first half of this year there will be a Bon Scott Festival in Fremantle, Western Australia. That’s where he spent much of his childhood, and that’s where he’s buried. Apparently his is the most visited grave in the Freo cemetary. A bunch of fans have gotten together to raise the money to have a bronze statue of Bon made up. The statue will be unveiled on February 24th at a memorial concert. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, rumour has it that not all his fans think a bronze statue is the best way to memorialise their hero.*)
I have been commissioned by the Fremantle Arts Centre to write a blog about all of this. I’ll be travelling to WA in February for the statue unveiling and concert, and again in April/May when there will be further festivities and an exhibition by visual artists responding to Bon’s life and work. My mission, hazy as it is right now, is to interact with “the fans”, whoever they might be.
I’ve been asked to do this project based on my previous blogging projects, Bilateral Kellerberrin, and The Sham. In those projects, I spent an extended period of time blogging about a small country town in WA, and my own home suburb in Sydney. In this new project, I will need to get my head around a different kind of “site” – no longer geographically specific, but a site which revolves around a community of people who are dispersed throughout the world, and who hold in common their enthusiasm for Bon Scott.
I have to disclose from the beginning: I am not a fan. I certainly don’t dislike the music of AC/DC, but it’s just never crossed my horizon in any significant way, and I’ve never gone out of my way to listen to it. The earlier work of Bon Scott, before he joined AC/DC – well, I know nothing about it at all. So the Bon Scott Blog will certainly be, at least at the beginning, my autobiographical account of “coming to know Bon Scott”. I hope that some of the fans will take me under their wing and show me the “Tao of Bon”.
My first task is to get to Fremantle for the concert and statue unveiling on the 24th of February. I’m looking for an ardent fan as a travelling companion to drive with me across the nullabor from Sydney to Perth. The candidate would need to have a working car with a good stereo, and maybe some camping gear. I will pay for the petrol. Please contact me at shortleftleg[at]yahoo[dot]com to register your interest. (I guess we’d need to leave at least 5 days in advance…)
Coming soon: the new Bon Scott Blog…
*but I can’t remember where I heard this rumour. Searching around the net, looking at the enthusiastic sites maintained by fanclubs, I haven’t seen anything critical of the idea yet. Maybe I just dreamed it.
Hey lucas this sounds good. acdc had a lane named after it in melbourne, it’s the one with cherry bar in it. acdc in this case represents maybe an idea more than a individual band.
I am a now a fan, i went to a bon scott birthday memorial gig a few years ago at the public bar. a range of bands did an acdc number each, including SPG. It was great, pure energy especially from a band of basically children who played one of the big numbers with perhaps that rawness you might have got from an early acdc gig. the crowd didn’t let the kids leave the stage and they had to play it again. i was at the front, converted. since then i have wanted to make a biopic of acdc. not being a filmmaker in anyway has prevented this somewhat.
Check out my little story from around 1975 or 76 when I was travelling with ACDC from Perth to Adelaide.This is a true story .look at The long road back .
The long road back.
Itâ€™s kind of funny the way the grass bends all to one side, as if a giant had placed his comb across the countryside and made everything neat.
The wind was blowing incessantly, day after day, so no wonder the grass had a permanent lean to it.
I had travelled far too long in the country and the sounds of the desert were beginning to make me feel homesick, as I sat on my old port bag, with its rabbit skin pelt cut into the shape of a map of Australia.
My old buddy Les had given the bag to me when we reached Perth and he went on his own way to work on cattle properties.Les was a real station hand and had found work the week we arrived in town. I, on the other hand, had found a job as a welder, a job I knew well, and so we parted company and I headed for home. We would never again share a beer or two ,on a hot summerâ€™s day.
And the road stretched out in both directions for a thousand miles or more and I felt so sad that day in autumn as I waited for a lift from a passing truck or motorist.
This was back in the days when hitch hiking was almost safe, not that it ever was a safe thing to do, but I had no choice now but to continue ,until I had reached my home ,back in Sydney town.
It could have been around 1 p.m. that afternoon when an old battered delivery truck came along the highway travelling east to Adelaide. I stood up with a weariness grown out of defeat from so many missed rides that day, but this time the small truck was definitely slowing down for me.
The little truck moved over to the side of the dusty road and a cloud of red dust rose into the air and was carried away by the never ending breeze that came from the Great Australian Bight. It stopped directly by my side and a young man with a long haircut stuck his head out and said in a happy voice.
â€œNeed a lift, mate, we got plenty of room if you want a ride to townâ€.
â€œYeah bloody hell, I sure do need a lift, thanks a lot chapsâ€ I replied with a dry dusty throat.
I handed my old case to the tall one in the back seat and climbed into the front seat, glad that a ride finally came by.
â€œMy nameâ€™s Billâ€, I said to the fellows who looked a bit odd at that moment.
There was a smell of cannabis in the air .I knew that smell from my old days working at the Fraser House institute in Sydney.
Fraser house was a new idea for the sixties where anyone, especially aboriginal peoples could spend up to three months in a hostel type accommodation. They could receive counselling and other psychiatric services free of charge, and their family could also stay with them during the period of their visit.
That is how I had learnt about the pungent sweet aroma of cannabis sativa from the patients, some who were there for substance abuse.
Itâ€™s kind of funny how we get our education free from the university of life, if we care to listen, once in a while.
And so the smell didnâ€™t worry me at all, I swear it didnâ€™t. I was just glad they had stopped for me and offered a lift. I may even have taken a lift from Old Nick that day; I was so down in spirit.
So off we went rocking along the dusty Nullarbor Plain.
The Nullarbor is a timeless place to be in, especially at night, when the wind blows gently and the sounds of the night owls can be heard for bloody miles. It can make the hairs on the back of the neck bristle with electricity or fear.
If you are the nervous type then any screech or cry will send a shiver up your spine, believe me, Iâ€™ve been there and done that. Itâ€™s something youâ€™ll never forget as long as you live.
I believe the long dead ghosts of a million aboriginals lay beneath the flat plains of the ancient Nullarbor. And at night their souls would wander about the desert sands, lost in time and space.
I swear, you can faintly hear the droning sounds of the medicine man in the distance.
And the clicking of the sticks as he makes his ancient charms weave their special magic on the landscape.
The old truck was a Bedford parcel van and as we drove along the lads began to speak.
â€œWe are musicians and we just came from a concert at Scarborough beach just out of Perth city,â€ One of them said in an excited voice; â€œPerhaps you have heard of us beforeâ€
â€œWhatâ€™s the name of your band, â€œI replied?
I was in a pub one night a week ago and there was a good rock band playing, but I was so pissed at the time, I forgot the name of the band.
â€œAC DC is the bandâ€™s name .It means, alternating and direct, as in electricity, â€œThe fellow in the school uniform replied.
â€œYep I know what that means, radio is one of my hobbies you know,â€ I said in a voice steeped in wisdom.
â€œAnyway my name is Angus and this is Mal and George,â€Said the little guy in the school uniform.
He didnâ€™t look much older than about fifteen to me but they must be in their twentyâ€™s for sure, to be musicians like that.
These guys were making a living from playing rock and roll so that was pretty cool with me.
â€œWe gotta pick up Bon Scott in Adelaide, he flew over to setup some work for us and we get the job of moving all the gear,â€ Malcolm replied.
â€œDonâ€™t suppose you want to hang out with us for a few weeks ,you help out with the equipment and you can eat and drink as much as you want,â€ George said,”You may even pick up a few chicks along the way.”
â€œWhy not, just working my way back home to Sydney,â€ I said.
I was really grateful these guys were so friendly and around my own age and temperament. This was going to be a good trip after all. And maybe the ancient witchdoctor was looking out for me; after all I had been through, the last three months.
I settled in for the long ride back.
As we travelled along an offer to have a smoke was made, and I accepted with gratitude, the long haul over this vast land can play tricks with the mind. So a number or two helps pass the time away and relieves boredom. I took a big breath and held it for at least two minutes as the chemical drifted into my brain. The road felt smoother now as we drove along with a kind of other worldly feel that was relaxing to me. We all just waffled on about stuff for ages and then George noticed something or someone in the distance, walking along the side of the highway.
We got closer and we could see more people which had the effect of freaking everyone out in the van. It could be the marihuana or just the fact that a group of people out in the middle of nowhere is not really expected. It defied reason to say the least.
â€œWhen we get to them pull over,â€™ said Angus,â€ we can talk to them and find out what they are doing hereâ€
â€œWe could offer them some beads to trade for a spear or something like that,â€ I suggested.
As we got to the wanderers we stopped and got out of the truck and Malcolm ,who was the tallest ,approached what looked like the leader of the lost tribe.
He spoke in a steady but slightly inquisitive voice to the tall black fellow.
â€œWe are travellers from Perth and we would like to trade some beads for one of your spears or shields if you donâ€™t mind,â€ He stuttered.
I think this had put Mal in a place that he was totally unfamiliar with, and now he had to act to the best of his ability, if he was to be successful now.
â€œActually I donâ€™t do beads young chap,â€ was the curt reply from the tribeâ€™s leader.
I almost cracked it when he said it that way.
Bloody hell this guy sounds better educated than any one I had ever met before.
â€œIâ€™m surprised you fellows would think that I would be interested in trading beads,â€ he said in an attitude of complete superiority.
â€œYour government had decided many years ago that I would be sent, as a young man, to England and be educated, so that one day I may return to my homeland and guide my own peoples,â€ Was the extraordinary response.
This left all of us with our mouths wide open catching the sandflies from the dusty dessert.
â€œDonâ€™t suppose you have a spare bit of devil weed in that thing youâ€™re driving across my backyard,â€ he said.
â€œI could overlook your impertinence today but if we ever meet again I shall be rather annoyed if by our parting today that some gift was not forthcoming in reverence to my status here,â€ He said politely.
â€œCrikey, give him a reefer Mal, George, anybody and lets get the hell out of here,â€ I choked out the words from sheer embarrassment.
Angus pulled a number from his denim coat pocket and handed it to our distinguished guest.
â€œHope that will put a smile on your dial old chap,â€ said I.
â€œWe gotta go now, have an appointment in town and donâ€™t wont to be late,â€Mal said as we walked back to the van and climbed aboard.
â€œSee you then, have safe trip young men and donâ€™t forget that no matter where ever you roam there is always someone who needs a little help from their friends,â€ muttered the wise old fellow.
With that we all burst out laughing ,realising that phrase was one of the Beatles better known lines from their songs.
The old guy really was hip, dressed in tribal feathers and bark shorts, standing out in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain sucking on our last joint.
Â© Copyright 2009 Bird (UN: sydneybird at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Bird has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.