Today marks not only the 260th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but also reminds us that exactly 35 years ago Bon Scott played his final show as front man of a little old rock band you may know as AC/DC. Surely, anyone who knows music knows the tremendous amount of influence Scott had in the early success of AC/DC. Like Mozart, their music has filtered down to the younger generations. Since their take over in America they have become a timeless as well as significant addition to our culture of music. However, in their final show of the Highway to Hell tour in Southampton, UK on January 27, 1980 they had no idea that just weeks later Bon Scott would be found dead after a night of excessive partying.

The death of Bon Scott as many hardcore AC/DC fans know marked the end of era for this band. Just before that at the start of 1980s these Aussie natives had just found a significant amount of commercial success in America. The release of the Highway to Hell LP was the first of many to make it onto the Billboard’s 200 Top Albums. Like bands before them, and some after, they had to either move forward with their growing international success or let the death of Scott impede them. Many of his bandmates such as guitarist Angus Young were deeply impacted by his death because of its unexpected nature. Never did any one of them think that their show in the UK would be their last time playing beside their fellow friend and bandmate. Although members of the band and those close to him were fully aware of Scott’s addiction to multiple drugs and his substance abuse, none of them could anticipate a casual night of drinking with friends would be his last. By his nature, he always over-indulged and there are multiple beliefs to what exactly caused his death. The most official being that he was left in his car to sleep on the driver’s seat and ended up choking to death on his vomit. Many have claimed it to be drug related cause or simply a combination of both drugs and alcohol.

Just as they were being recognized for some of their most classic hits like “Highway to Hell” and “Let There Be Rock” they found themselves without a front man to carry them on to the next phrase of their career. Just months after his death the band regrouped to find a new front man you may know by the name Brian Johnson. Johnson and the release of “Black in Black” (July 1980) brought forth a new AC/DC, all while paying tribute to Scott’s passing. As many know “Black in Black” put them on road to what we know of them today as being one of the greatest rock acts of all time. Past some of the early negative reception for the acceptance of a new front man they managed to prove themselves. They only became that much stronger and eventually proved Johnson was a great addition. AC/DC continues to affirm their success with their always sold-out and larger than life stadium tours that still go on today. Even with the recent departure of Malcolm Young in 2014 due to health issues, this band has continued in being one of most successful acts in music.

About The Author

I am just another music education major who practically lives in the Music Building. By day I am bassoonist but by night I am out trying to live that front row life at concerts I go to. When I am not practicing or trying to learn a new instrument I like to listen to all sorts of cool music.

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