From Drug Bust to Rock Legend: The Bon Scott AC/DC Story
Bon Scott in an interview - sghworldwide / Youtube
Drug busts arent news for any rockstar in the ’60s, although it did set them back one way or another. In Australia, one particular group kickstarted the whole drug bust “culture, which would set off a chain reaction that would change the industry’s landscape forever.
The country’s first significant bust happened on September 20, 1969, in the Jan Juc surf club near Torquay. Cops already surveilled the place for days after a tipoff from a rival band sent them, and found the rising local act Valentines in possession of pot when they moved in.
Of course, any hardcore AC/DC fan would know that the Valentines was one of Bon Scott’s first bands. This drug sting marked the end of the band’s career, however, which was quite a shame since it was Scott’s first professional venture and were already successful with hits like “Every Day I Have T0 Cry” and “Juliette”, along with recording their own Coca-Cola commercial.
Since the bust, members were told to be compliant – which was simply not how Scott rolled at all. Instead, he spoke against authorities with statements like: “They should realize that what we do is right for us. We respect a lot of things about their job, but they shouldn’t persecute whole groups of people just for being different,” on the Aussie entertainment paper Go Set. In another instance, he said, “The Australian government deserves a few ripples. They’ll be the last to legalize homosexuality, and pot will be the same.”
Afterward, the band agreed towards stopping with smoking pot, but roadie John Darcy’s account had something else to say. “Bon, Paddy [Beach, drummer] and myself just sort of ignored it. Vince [Lovegrove, singer] went off on his own trip too, I think. Wyn [Milson] and Ted [Ward] went along with the letter of the law, and that went on for a few months before they realized what we were doing. They were pretty cut, actually,” he disclosed.
The band was lucky on the night of the bust that they only had weed on them, as they weren’t particularly afraid of trying other stuff. One memory saw the band downing Mescaline on Christmas day. “Ted thought he was a hippopotamus, he just sat in the pool all day,” said frontman Vince Lovegrove. “Bon and I went to this lunch …as soon as we walk in the room, where the parents are there to meet us, Bon just becomes a Chinaman … arms folded and he’s squinting with this stupid grin on his face, and he’s bowing and going, ‘Ah so, Ah so.’ These people didn’t know what was going on. Anyway, they serve the food, and I suppose we must have thought this turkey was alive or something, because we just ended up getting out of there, we were virtually running down the road screaming. We started hitching, and of course no one would give us a lift, so we ended up walking all the way back to the motel, it was seven miles or something. We got there, and Ted’s virtually turned into a prune, he’s still in the pool, he still thinks he’s a hippopotamus!”
During the band’s court hearing, they lawyer defended them with: “The group have told me that under the influence of marijuana they become more perceptive to musical sounds.” Moreover, he added that “long-haired pop stars weren’t automatically louts and drug addicts, and that they had not encouraged other teenagers to follow their example.” In the end, each member was fined AUD $150 and placed under a good behavior bond for the troubles.
There wasn’t a worse time for the sentence, however, as the band was struggling to find a new base of operations when it was handed. The Valentines were virtually over at this point, abandoning their uniform branding and the members losing their focus on group efforts. “Bon and I have often come really close to punching the shit out of each other,” shared Lovegrove. “But with all of us the group is the most important thing – it always comes first, before personal arguments, before chicks, before smoking, everything.” He added later: “None of us were really happy in the group any more, but we didn’t say anything because we didn’t want to hurt the others.”
By June, Scott wrote a letter to his bird: “The Valentines are breaking up on the 1st August. It’s been coming about for a while now and it came to a head last week when we found out that Vince was waiting for confirmation from a couple of jobs. Ted, Wyn and I decided we’d dig to split anyway.” Moreover, he added that he wanted to “record an LP and a single and follow it up with a shit-hot group and make lots of money.”
While the Valentines was a serious chance lost by Scott, we all know this was destiny in motion. He soon joined the band Fraternity who wanted to expand in Europe but failed, prompting his return in Aussie soil. A motorcycle crash added to the misfortunes of Scott, until he recovered and worked as a roadie when AC/DC would come along and change his life – along with rock music – forever.