rushonrock‘s Self Made Man has been following AC/DC for the best part of three decades and next Tuesday’s Hampden Park showpiece can’t come soon enough for the big guy.
In the first of two exclusive articles, and to celebrate AC/DC Week, he looks back on a love affair with the rabble rousing Aussies stretching back to the late 70s. And get ready for a bold admission.
I was fated never to see Bon Scott in the flesh.
And I’ve been so ashamed of the fact that I’ll admit, on occasions, I’ve lied.
‘Must have been great seeing Bon in AC/DC?’, I’ve been asked on several occasions by mates of mine too young to have seen the band before the singer’s untimely death in 1980.
‘Yeah,’ I instinctively reply before weaving a web of deceit about his charisma, his presence and his antics on the (fictional) occasions I saw him live.
The problem that has gnawed away at my inner senses these past three decades is that I came so close to seeing AC/DC during the Scott era. Back in the 70s, they played five times in my home town of Newcastle – all at the now-demolished holy grail of rock music, the Mayfair Ballroom.
Their first visit to the region was in October 1977 when I confess, I wasn’t yet into AC/DC. Eight months later they were back and, by now, I’d been blown away by their new album Powerage and was busily famiiliarising myself with their already impressive back catalogue.
But May was exam time and my parents wouldn’t have allowed me to go out ‘at such an important time in your academic life’.
It probably didn’t matter because the Mayfair had an Over-18s admission policy and in 1978, this 15-year-old did not look 18. In November 1978, they booked in for another two nights at the Mayfair and with my Adam’s Apple fully formed and the first evidence of a moustache beginning to protrude above my upper lip, I was already getting served in pubs so didn’t envisage any problems.
By now, however, AC/DC were hugely popular and the two nights at the Newgate Street venue sold out within hours – and guess who didn’t get a ticket!
My luck changed one year on when the Aussie rockers made their now customary late-autumn visit to Tyneside _ and this time they were being supported by Def Leppard, one of the most promising new bands breaking through in this country.
Six of us applied for tickets and though we didn’t manage to obtain them for the same night, it didn’t matter. Steve and I would go along on the Thursday (I think) and give a full review to Mike, Paul G and Paul S and Vince who were heading there 24 hours later.
We arrived in good time only to be confronted by the most devastating notice I’ve ever read. ‘Gig cancelled due to fire’ it declared. Had it said the world was about to end, I could not have been more upset.
Being told it was just a small fire and that the Mayfair would soon be back to normal was no consolation. In fact, it made things worse. I’ll admit it now, I remember wishing the Friday night gig was cancelled too. I didn’t want my mates to experience something denied to me.
But they did and while none of them rubbed it in (in fact they were far more sympathetic to my plight than I would have been in similar circumstances), the brutal truth is they saw Bon Scott and I didn’t.***
Within three months Bon was dead. And as the legend grew so did my fibs.
But today the truth has to come out. I never saw Bon live. Mike, Paul, Vince and Paul did – and so for that matter did Steve, who’d been at one of the 1978 gigs.
*** AC/DC did reschedule that postponed gig, playing the Mayfair on January 1980. It proved to be Bon’s penultimate gig – Southampton Gaumont was the last, the following night. I presume my ticket was valid for that night but for the life of me, I can’t remember why I didn’t go.