In the hallowed hall of rock and roll hell-raisers, AC/DC’s Bon Scott definitely has a seat at the top table, rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Doors’ Jim Morrison, The Who’s Keith Moon, and Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham.
The Aussie wild man renowned for his hard-living ways and trademark screech, and who boldly declared for eternity and beyond that he was on a “Highway To Hell,” has long been affectionately thought of as the rocking man’s rocker.
Yet like many who have gone down in history as living life on the edge and without compromise, Scott was a complex individual who had an emotional and tender side, which was often at odds with his image of a wild-eyed heavy metal urchin riding on into the sunset with one eye perpetually on the next party, the next bottle of whisky, and the next inviting bed.
And that’s the reason why the Western Australian government has decided to shell out $14,000 on a letter that the AC/DC front-man penned when his band was touring the U.S. in 1978, and in which Scott gives voice to his concerns about the well-being of drummer Phil Rudd and the band’s tough touring schedule.
Classic Rock reports that a letter Scott sent to his friend Valerie when AC/DC was trekking their merry way across the States in the late ’70s triggered a bidding war when it was auctioned.
The letter spans three pages and went under the hammer at Nate D. Sanders Auctions. Its reserve price of $6,500 was smashed by a mystery bidder who doubled that sum to get their hands on the historic document.
It was initially thought the unknown bidder was a hardcore AC/DC fan but it later transpired that it was purchased by the Western Australian government.
WA State Library’s music expert, Dr. Adam Turner, explained how there is a common misconception of Scott, particularly in regard to his lyrics, that he was a mischievous and malevolent type, but the letter showcases his more human, tender, and emotional side.
Scott writes in his letter, “Phil had a bit of a nervous breakdown and had to spend a lot of time with a shrink. It was really bad, but luckily he got over it quick enough not to upset the band. We had to treat him with kid gloves for a bit but he’s OK now.”
Discussing the challenges of life on the road, Scott writes, “We’ve worked so much since I saw you last that it’s all one hell of a blur. Must have been across the country and up and down it a million times – I’m beginning to feel and look just a little haggard.”
Scott also explains that he’d like to check himself into a sanitarium for a month but the demands of the tour won’t allow it, so he jokes that the next time the recipient of the letter sees him he might just be in a “geriatric ward.”
Scott’s letter is currently on display at the State Library in Perth.