Top 10 Bon Scott AC/DC Songs

Top 10 Bon Scott AC/DC Songs

Feature Photo: Lost Parables from Ballymena, Northern Ireland. ©jameshughes, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

From 1974 until 1980, Ronald “Bon” Scott rocked with AC/DC as the group’s lead vocalist. He replaced the band’s original singer, Dave Evans after succeeding in an audition held by Angus and Malcolm Young. Until his untimely death in 1980, Scott brought the house down with one top hard rock song after another. There are at least ten that come to mind that stands out as personal favorites. Do my top ten AC/DC Bon Scott songs match your top ten?

About Bon Scott

Before signing up with AC/DC as the band’s lead singer, Scott was originally born in Scotland in 1946 before moving with his family to Australia six years later. He grew up as a fan of Little Richard, which sparked his interest to pursue a music career of his own. He put together his first band in 1964. At the time, it was called the Spektor’s. When his band merged with the Winstons in 1966, they officially became the Valentines. Aside from serving as a drummer, Scott shared the role of lead vocalist with Vince Lovegrove. While together as a group, they managed to record and release material of their own before going their separate ways in 1970.

From 1970 until 1973, Bon Scott teamed up with a progressive rock group known as Fraternity. Together, they released Livestock and Flaming Galah as albums before going on tour in the United Kingdom. At that time, the band decided to change its name to Fang. Oddly enough, while in the U.K., Bon Scott met with Brian Johnson. At the time, Johnson was the glam rock band, Geordie.

When Scott’s group returned to Australia, the group decided to take a break. In order to occupy his time and keep up with the bills, Scott took on a day job while still performing as a musician in the evening. It would be during this time he met Peter Head from Headband. However, the road Scott traveled between this point and joining AC/DC was a rocky one. In May 1974, he spent three days in a coma as a victim of a motorcycle accident. While under the influence of alcohol, Bon Scott injured himself while driving his bike on the road. Not long after this, however, he’d cross paths with AC/DC as they were looking for a new lead singer to replace Dave Evans. At the time, AC/DC’s popularity was growing as a local fan favorite. For Scott, this was a dream come true as he was already a fan of this Australian-based band.

Bon Scott, Unplugged

When Bon Scott met Angus Young and his older brother, Malcolm, he learned they were originally from Scotland like he was. He also learned they moved to Australia as children and grew up in the nation, just like him. The meeting of these three was credited to Scott’s wife at the time, Irene Thornton. This came in August 1974 when the couple was at a gig AC/DC was performing in. On stage, Angus and Malcolm Young were performing and Bon Scott was encouraged to jump on the stage and sing along. A few months later, AC/DC was auditioning for a new lead singer. Scott was already serving as the band’s chauffeur at the time when he auditioned. From there, he became AC/DC’s new lead singer.

When AC/DC debuted with its first album, High Voltage, this came shortly after Scott signed up as the band’s frontman. At the time, it was a 1975 release that was limited to the Australian audience only as T.N.T. In 1976, it became available for the rest of the world as High Voltage. After the success of this album was Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Although this was released in 1976, it didn’t reach the North American audience until 1981. There were also 1977’s Let There Be Rock, 1978’s Powerage, and 1970’s Highway to Hell. These were all recorded and released as albums in the meantime.

Shock Rock

On February 19, 1980, Bon Scott’s partying ways as a rock star caught up with him. This came about just as AC/DC was on the brink of international stardom. Within six months after his death, Back in Black was released as the group’s seventh studio album. It served as a tribute to Scott as both the band and the fans had to cope with the loss. As fate had it, Back in Black became one of AC/DC’s best-selling albums.

The loss of Bon Scott rocked the band pretty hard. At one point, there was a brief consideration to call it quits. Then Brian Johnson from Geordie came along and AC/DC was officially back in business, rocking the audience with one hard rock classic after another. For Johnson, he knew he had big shoes to fill. Like Scott, he went through an audition process that would earn him the honor to carry Bon Scott’s legacy as AC/DC’s new frontman.

Scott’s Legacy

The impact Bon Scott had on those who knew him best was immense. Even among the fans of hard rock, they regard him as one of the greatest lead vocalists of all time. In 2003, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of AC/DC. Aside from them, several recording artists and rock groups have paid tribute to the man, a practice that still continues today. As an individual recording artist, Bon Scott was inducted into the West Australian Music Industry Awards Hall of Fame. Even before AC/DC, he was already a local hero when it came to rock music. When his death first became public news, alcohol poisoning was blamed for its cause. It wasn’t the first time Scott was hospitalized for substance abuse as this was a pattern that often got him into trouble. Nevertheless, he was highly regarded by his peers and his countrymen. His grave site was declared a cultural landmark by the National Trust of Australia and is one of the nation’s most visited. The amount of care that goes into the Bon Scott Grave Area has ensured it remains a national treasure so that local visitors and international tourists can pay their respects to a man who made such a lasting impression.

There was one incident in 2006, right on Bon Scott’s sixtieth birthday in July where the bronze statue of him was stolen from the grave site. Less than two years later, a new bronze statue of him on top of an amplifier was unveiled at Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour. Before AC/DC, one of the odd jobs Bon Scott held was working at the fishing docks.

Although Scott grew up in Australia, he was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland. As a means to pay homage to the man, ceremonies were held that unveiled a stone slab, as well as a life-sized statue. Kirriemuir has also been hosting an annual event known as “Bonfest.” Originally, this was a July event, scheduled as close to the man’s birthday as possible. However, it conflicted with other festivals going on in the summer so it was moved to May. Each year, this music festival is held to honor Bon Scott, as well as AC/DC.

Top 10 AC/DC Bon Scott Songs

#10 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation

Released as a single from Powerage in 1978, this AC/DC song sung by Bon Scott became a number twenty-four hit on the UK Singles Chart and a number eighty-three hit in Australia. What made this song stand out was the use of handclapping and maracas, as well as Angus and Malcolm Young’s incredible display of hard rockin’ talent.

 

#9 – Jailbreak

In 1976, “Jailbreak” became a number ten hit on Australia’s Kent Music Report after it was released as a single from AC/DC’s third studio album, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. This song was kept as an Australian musical gem before it was finally released in North America in 1984. The inspiration behind “Jailbreak” came to Bon Scott after he learned about a prisoner named Mark Brandon Reid. The man was sentenced to a sixteen-year jail term after murdering a gang leader. After serving his third year, he attempted to break out of jail but his partner in crime at the time, Jimmy Loughnan, was claustrophobic. Because of this, the attempt ended in failure. For AC/DC, this was considered cool material to write a song about it. As fans, it’s cool just listening to it.

 

#8 – High Voltage

Released in 1975, “High Voltage” became AC/DC’s first top-ten single in Australia. This was actually released on its own as a single before it was included in the album, T.N.T. It was also a song that peaked as high as number forty-eight on the UK Singles Chart after it was released internationally in 1980. As a song, it played off AC/DC’s band name and has become one of their most popular tunes. In fact, the popularity of this song has branched it into a sing-a-long whenever performed in front of a live audience.

#7 – Dog Eat Dog

Speaking as a fan, I love it when funny videos play AC/DC’s “Dog Eat Dog” each time dogs have pulled off some kind of antic that’s caught on film. This song came from 1977’s album, Let There Be Rock. On the Kent Music Report in Australia, it became a number six hit. Since then, it has become a major fan favorite worldwide. This was a song that took a familiar cliche and used it for what it means. In a highly competitive world that only recognizes a handful of top achievers, it literally feels like dogs fighting it out between them to get all the attention. This is especially true in the entertainment industry, which Bon Scott made reference to in the lyrics while Angus and Malcolm Young hammer the message home with their prized instruments.

 

#6 – Let There Be Rock

Although “Let There Be Rock” only charted as high as number eighty-two in Australia when it was released in 1977, it became one of AC/DC’s most popular songs. This came from the album with the same name, featuring Bon Scott as the lead vocalist while Angus and Malcolm Young again demonstrated why they’re among the best rockers in the business. Collectively, AC/DC paid homage to Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” in their own way as a fictional history tale about rock ‘n’ roll as a genre. “Let There Be Rock” behaved as a musical birth announcement of an entity that would explode worldwide. Between learning how to play electric guitars and belting out lyrics to literally rock the audience, “Let There Be Rock” became an anthemic piece of classic rock history.

 

#5 – It’s a Long Way to the Top

In Australia, T.N.T. was released as AC/DC’s 1975’s contribution to the genre of rock and roll music. “It’s a Long Way to the Top” became the band’s fourth single release. It was also the second occasion Bon Scott and his bandmates realized a top-ten hit in their home nation. This technically became Scott’s signature song as a member of AC/DC as it somewhat served as a biography. When Brian Johnson took over as lead singer after Bon Scott died, he refused to perform it out of respect for his predecessor. This was a song that every member of the human race who strives to reach their greatest goals can relate to. This is especially true among the scores of recording artists who scratch their way to the top of an industry that only accepts the best of the best when it comes to signing lucrative record deals. Bon Scott, as well as Angus and Malcolm Young, knew this reality all too well themselves. It wasn’t until Scott’s passing in 1980 did the group realize the height of their fame, along with the accolades and fortune that came with it.

 

#4 – Whole Lotta Rosie

From the album, Let There Be Rock, “Whole Lotta Rosie” was a 1977 release that became a number-five hit in the Netherlands and a number thirty-six hit on the UK Singles Chart. While the music charts may not show it so much, “Whole Lotta Rosie” is a cult classic among AC/DC fans who find this cheeky number about an obese Tasmanian woman too irresistible to ignore. For lead singer Bon Scott, he shared an actual one-night stand with the woman that left him with an experience so great he couldn’t help but write a song about it. Apparently, his token of appreciation didn’t go unnoticed as it became certified silver by the United Kingdom’s British Phonographic Industry. Aside from charting in 1977, 1978, and 1980, it did so again in 2012. For the second time, it appeared on the US Singles Chart as it climbed as high as number sixty-eight.

 

#3 – T.N.T.

If AC/DC decided to enter professional wrestling and needed a good theme song to do it, “T.N.T.” would be a likely candidate. Sung by Bon Scott, this lyrical warning about the man’s demeanor was a hard rockin’ favorite from the album that sported the same name when it was released in Australia. Fans worldwide will identify “T.N.T.” with the internationally released album, High Voltage. First released in 1976, it became a number nineteen hit in Australia. It also became certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry. As a song, “T.N.T.” earned its place as one of AC/DC’s signature tunes. Between the opening chants and the references made to the explosive substance, this song became one of those timeless classics that keep the fans coming back for more. It’s also been covered by other top recording artists such as Anthrax and Six Feet Under.

 

#2 – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

In 1976, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” was released by AC/DC for the first time. It was the title track of an album, which peaked as high as number twenty-nine on Australia’s Kent Music Report and at number thirty-four in New Zealand. In 1981, this was released in the United States and became a number four hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. It also peaked at number forty-seven on the UK Singles Chart. This song, much like Bon Scott and AC/DC, is iconic. Sung as an advertisement for people looking for their brand of justice, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” paved the way for the Australian-based group to make its mark on the world as certifiable rock stars. Those certifications came in the form of silver, gold, and platinum-certified songs and albums that keep AC/DC on top as one of the greatest musical acts of all time.

As for “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” this started out as a tribute to an old cartoon series called Beany and Cecil. As a kid, it was one of Angus Young’s favorite programs. The series featured a character whose name was Dishonest John. In the show, he sported a business card that offered his services as “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” For Angus Young, this was a great source of inspiration to turn it into a song.

 

#1 – Highway to Hell

“Highway to Hell” is so much more than a hard rock song. This is the kind of music that creates otherwise ordinary rockers into legendary superstars. This title track to the 1979 album was written by Bon Scott, Angus Young, and Malcolm Young. Angus’s guitar riff, as usual, is out of this world. There’s a reason why he ranks as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Pair this with Bon Scott’s vocal performance and this is the closest thing to a heavenly rock song as it gets.

The timing of this song’s creation came after AC/DC was already enjoying the fast-paced success of a recording career that’s been nothing short of supercharged. For this powerful trio, it literally felt like a “Highway to Hell” between the grueling schedules the men kept as performers. When Bon Scott died in 1980, “Highway to Hell” took on a whole new meaning. Since then, it’s become one of AC/DC’s signature songs that keep the fans screaming for more. This is one of the most played AC/DC tunes on a global scale as it’s also one of the most requested by fans worldwide.

When “Highway to Hell” was first released, it became a number forty-seven hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. In Australia, it peaked as high as number twenty-four. Globally, it also appeared on music charts belonging to Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. It has since become certified double platinum in Italy, Portugal, and the U.K. In Mexico, it was certified diamond. As for the Recording Industry Association of America, “Highway to Hell” was certified gold on two occasions. In addition to these achievements, “Highway to Hell” proved this song is a timeless classic. In 1992, it appeared on the music charts again, this time topping the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. It happened again in 2012 on the US Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart. In 2013, the UK Singles Chart peaked “Highway to Hell” at number four. Even as recently as 2021, this song continues to chart as it peaked at number sixteen on the Single Top 40 chart belonging to Hungary.

Top 10 Bon Scott AC/DC Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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