Bon Scott and Kirriemuir, FifeAfter spending an afternoon sipping tea and sampling some of the local ginger cake in the somnolent town of Kirriemuir , Fife, it seems implausible that one of rock’s greatest hellraisers could have hailed from the town.
But Ronald Belford Scott, or Bon Scott as he would later be known when he fronted legendary Aussie rockers AC/DC, began his rise to stardom on the 9th July 1946 in Kirriemuir. In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War things were changing at pace. Such an atmosphere of reinvention would see Scott’s family move to Australia when he was six years old. It was a similar move made by his two bandmates, Malcolm and Angus Young – the two Glasgow boys moved to Sydney in 1963.
After his family moved west to Fremantle, Scott joined the Fremantle Scots Pipe Band. Scott was the archetypal rabble rouser. Drumming in the pipe band may have imbued him with a sense of rhythm, but the stricter confines of school did nothing for him. Dropping out at the age of fifteen, Scott’s rebellious streak saw him warm a cell or two after falling foul of the law. All of which informed his loquacious wit with the righteous outlaw fury that made AC/DC so dangerous, so thrilling.
Of course, their music was nothing entirely new – think of a parallel universe where Chuck Berry was raised in an impoverished Sydney suburb and lived on a diet of beer, brawling and womanising. Oh, and turn it up to ten. AC/DC’s primal boogie brought fans by their droves, and though their success would be accelerated with each passing album, reaching its zenith in the Scott-era with ‘Highway To Hell’, the band never really forgot its roots.
On ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll), from their 1976 debut, ‘High Voltage’, Scott’s bagpipe solo reprises his time with the Fremantle Pipe Band, and seems a triumphant salute to his home country. In many ways, Scott, the rebel, the outsider, would have found solidarity in Kirriemuir’s 16th Century pagan population, whose witches were on the wrong side of the societal status quo.
Scott’s hellraising was the death of him, and ‘Highway To Hell’ was eerily prophetic in its jolly fatalism: on the 19th February 1980, after an evening’s drinking, Scott was found dead in a friend’s car in South London . Aged 33, his death was recorded as misadventure and acute alcohol poison. Rock had lost one of its most charismatic figures.
In 2006 a Caithness stone was erected in his owner in Kirriemuir, forever a reminder of the town’s footnote in the colourful tapestry of rock history and a pilgrimage for AC/DC fans paying tribute to the original problem child.
1 Response to Bon Scott and Kirriemuir
From juliet smith on 2nd July 2009
although i am sure someone else will have provided this feedback already.....Kirriemuir is not in fife - it is in angus (county) or tayside (region). Kirriemuir gingerbread is not from Kirriemuir, it is made in Lanarkshire i think.
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