Stevie Let your Hair Hang Down

stevie wright atop a lion
[Stevie Wright astride a bronze lion in Trafalgar Sq., London, 1975. Photo entitled “Portrait of Stevie Wright, London, 1975” by Gary Ede, originally published here.]

One of the most significant non-Bon discoveries I made while working on the Bon Scott Blog was the music of Stevie Wright. By chance, I found Stevie’s album Hard Road at a flea market. I had a vague notion that Stevie had something to do with Bon, so I bought it for a mere seven bucks. Since then (my girlfriend gave me a record player for my birthday) and Hard Road has been on high rotation. It is brilliant.

Stevie really shines on this album – the writing, the voice, the guitar work, the production values (rough enough but still polished). Vanda and Young did really well here.

When I first heard the album, the similarity between Stevie and Bon stood out. Stevie’s infectious trick of inserting little asides at the end of verses “My mum and pop they told me, son, you know you’re just a fool (yes they did) / when I told them I was leaving home, I was leaving school (yes I was)” is something Bon picked up on. And even in the narrative of the album – about being on a hard road with just my dog and my guitar and so on, there is something pretty similar to Bon’s later “Long way to the top” and “showbusiness” line of song writing about the struggles of being an aspiring rock star.

Stevie was mooted by some to take over as singer in AC/DC when Bon died, but it never happened. Apparently Alberts (the record company) and the Youngs were pretty hardline in their no drugs policy, which ruled out Stevie. In fact, it seems he went off the rails not long after Hard Road. In 2004, he released an autobiography, which I am yet to discover (details here); and in 1999 Jack Marx wrote a book about him called Sorry: The Wretched Tale of Little Stevie Wright, which is pretty rare – there’s a good review of that book here, although it seems that Stevie does not endorse Marx’s version of events, which have been described as “one of the most morally clouded rock’n’roll biographies you will read anywhere“.

black eyed bruiser stevie wright poster
[poster image from here]

I note that wikipedia says he put out an album called Black-eyed Bruiser in 1975 (and the above image would support that idea!), but when I searched for Black-eyed Bruiser, I mostly found reference to an album by Rose Tattoo. Does anyone have any more info on that album?

Anyway, the point of this blog entry is to say I’m excited to discover that Stevie is headlining the Legends of Rock day at Byron Bay and Perth very soon. If anyone goes along, I’d love to hear how Stevie performs. Here’s his feature page on the concert website. And the concert will also feature Dave Tice and Mark Evans, who I saw performing their excellent blues at the Sando in Sydney a few months back.

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oh, I just stumbled across some very thorough Wright-ology here.

Slow Leak…

bill leak To the literally dozens of people who sent me email and text message heads-up about the “Bill Leak Paints Bon” show on ABC TV tonight, a thousand thanks! It’s great to know you’re all looking out for me!

But you know what? I turned on the telly at five to eight, and there was no reception. Sigh. Something’s wrong with the antenna, but I can’t work it out. I tried the thing with the coat hanger connected to the back of the TV but to no avail. (It’s been years since I cared enough about a TV programme to do that!)

So I’ve been hanging out waiting for the ABC to vodcast it, but it’s still not on their site yet.

Anyone watch it and have any thoughts, while I continue waiting?

Big Bon Issue

big issue article on bon

The Big Issue has run a cover story on Bon Scott! You can read it page by page over here, or look at the pdf version here [2.5mb].

It includes coverage of the Bon Scott Project (including this blog!) by West Australian art writer Ric Spencer, and a personal story of his journey to see the bronze statue of Bon, by Melbourne rock journo Patrick Donovan. The cover art (shown above) is from the public artwork by Bevan Honey – the ghostly apparition of Bon which appeared mysteriously under a bridge in Fremantle in May this year.

(The Big Issue is a great magazine sold by homeless folks on the streets of cities around Australia. A large proportion of the cover price goes to the vendor.)

“I can’t see an end to it…”

rennie ellis acdc article

“I guess I have always had the idea of being rich and having a lifestyle to which I was suited”, says AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott as he eases himself into the huge chauffeur-driven limousine that will drive him from the Symphony Hall in Atlanta, Georgia, USA to his room at the Peachtree Plaza, the world’s largest hotel.

Thus begins this article written by legendary Aussie photographer/journalist Rennie Ellis, which accompanies this amazing set of photos of AccaDacca in concert in Atlanta, 1978.

And how does it end? With this ominous paragraph:

In the meantime this heavy Australian rock and roll band continues to storm around the USA. “The more we work, the more we move on, the more ideas we get. It’s getting better and better,” says a grinning Bon. “I can’t see an end to it. It’s just like infinity rock and roll.”

You can read the whole article here:

page one
page two

Thanks a million to Manuela from the Rennie Ellis archive for sending this article. Check out the website for more of Rennie’s great photographic work.

By the way, if you’re in Melbourne, you can see an exhibition of Rennie’s work from Oct 31 2008, to Feb 22 2009, at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia at Federation Square. The show will be called No standing Only dancing: Photographs by Rennie Ellis and you can see more info here.

Rennie Ellis – more amazing photos of Bon!

bon scott with heathen girls

Continuing the theme of “incredible photos of Bon from the archives”, here is a set of photos by the late great Aussie photographer Rennie Ellis.

Manuela Furci, one of the lucky folks in charge of the Rennie Ellis archive, has kindly given permission for these low-res copies of Rennie’s AC/DC shots to appear on the Bon Scott Blog. If you want to see more of Rennie’s work, have a look at his website.

The above photo is titled “AC-DC Bon Scott & The Heathen Girls #2 Atlanta Georgia 1978”. Can anyone tell me more about The Heathen Girls? I presume this is their myspace page, and I imagine that AC/DC must have played a gig in Atlanta with them, and that this photo show’s Bon at the post-show party!

Here’s another one with The Heathen Girls and Bon:
Continue reading “Rennie Ellis – more amazing photos of Bon!”

TV spot on Phillip Morris photo show

The video above appeared in my letter box last week! It’s a short TV feature on Phillip Morris, the photographer who was lucky enough to hang out with AC/DC in the 1970s, and who had an amazing exhibition in Sydney recently.

More info about the exhibition here, which was held at the Blender Gallery.

Enjoy! (the volume seems a little low on my system – it’s not a fault, just how the video came to me! I’ve also posted it on youtube here…)

(Thanks to Jon from AC/DC news for reminding me to link to Phillip Morris’ own website!)

The King of All Badasses Fires Up from Texas

dave evans

Thanks to Tully for this tipoff. Today there’s an article about pre-Bon AC/DC singer Dave Evans in the Sydney Morning Herald.

I first met Dave back at the big tribute concert in Perth. You can read about that encounter here.

Damn, I love how he calls himself “King of All Badasses”. There’s not enough self-proclaiming superlatives in rock these days. Good onya Dave. Also I love that he would like to “strangle” Clinton Walker, who wrote Bon’s biography. Never mind that the book has been out for about 15 years already, yet Dave’s ire is still crispy-fresh. Terrific stuff.

Mix Tape Revival

sumu and bon

Hey fans, remember this? A while back, before the Bon Scott Project exhibition opened at the Fremantle Arts Centre, some very lucky fans among you received a limited edition cassette cover as an invitation to the show. The cover came complete with brittle plastic case, and it was impressive enough, but several people emailed me, disappointed that there was no cassette inside. So I decided to make one.

The conditions are that you have to send me a picture of yourself with your cassette cover in order to receive a custom dubbed Bon Scott Blog mix tape to go inside! Priority will be given to photos which show where you are in the world.

Well, entries have been trickling in, and here are a few more.

Above, Sumu shoots himself with his cassette cover on the ferry in the Sydney harbour. Top marks for location and imagination, Sumu! Accompanying Sumu’s photo were these few lines:

Killa Filla? If there are indeed any mixtapes still about – my boom
box is moist with anticipation….

Also, more Bon inspired madness here

Check out that link, great little TNT mashup…


Our second entry is from Danae, a DJ from RTRFM. She invited Katie Dyer (the curator of the Bon Scott Letters exhibition) and me to do an interview a while back. Actually, it was on the morning of the launch of the Bon Scott Exhibition in Freo.

Danae REALLY wanted one of those mix tapes, so she brought in her LESBIAN MUD WRESTLING T-shirt to be digitally immortalised. Great stuff, Danae: a tape is on the way to you!

By the way, if you like, you can listen online to the interview Danae did with Katie and I. It’s here (MP3, 7MB, 16min) and it includes a rendition of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by Hayseed Dixie.