Bon Scott: His Legacy and His Contributions to Back in Black – Part 3
Well, that answer is simple. Bon stood only 5’8 but the shoes Brian Johnson had to fill were bigger than a Sasquatch. AC/DC knew that Brian’s climb was an uphill one. They knew that the hard-core Bon fans would not take to Brian easily. They knew that Brian would have to prove himself. Having said all that, when the album was released and if Bon had writing credits, Brian would have been looked upon as a hack and a sham. He would have been, immediately, discarded by the fans. The fans would have looked upon Brian as a phony.
It would have been foolish to throw away Bon’s masterful lyrics.If they were going to, in fact, use his lyrics, that had to do so in such a way that it looked like the lyrics were written by Brian Johnson. Otherwise, Brian never would have gotten acceptance. As a die-hard AC/DC fan, I have no problem with how this was done. Bon’s lyrics, Brian’s performances and some of the best guitar riffs ever written combined to make Back in Black a world-wide phenomenon. You Rush fans know that drummer Neil Peart writes the lyrics and lead singer Getty Lee has to deliver them in such a way that the fans would love it, and they most certainly do.
If nothing else, AC/DC is, in one word, ruthless. When you read bios about the band you’ll read one story after another about the band’s dogged determination and unequivocal desire. They would not let any one or any thing slow them down. They were riding their Highway to Hell and nothing would derail them, not even the loss of their leader. This is the way I believe Back in Back came into fruition.
The Young Brothers found Bon’s lyric book. They were blown away by what they read. They had the blessing of Bon’s family to continue so they figured, hey, let’s use these lyrics as a road map to write and complete the album. Once they got to the Bahamas, I believe that Brian Johnson and Mutt Lange(with input from Malcolm and Angus) filled in the blanks, so to speak. Once Brian and Mutt ironed out the lyrics, they were able to match them to the music and then the rest of the album making process could continue. Again, I am not knocking Brian. Please don’t think that I am. I am simply explaining why I feel AC/DC used Bon’s lyrics on BIB as so they should. Bon wrote those lyrics. He put his heart and soul into them. Why should they be tossed away like a dirty, holy pair of jeans?
The world of rock was in bad shape following the Disco craze of the 1970s. Albums like BIB and Ace of Spades by Motorhead and British Steel by Judas Priest helped put hard rock right back on top, where it should be. So AC/DC used Bon’s lyrics. I would have done the same thing if I was in their position. It would not surprise me that once the Back in Black line up passes away, we will see stories about the truth behind the lyrics. It does not ruin the album for me nor does it impact their legacy(Angus’ current partnership with Axl Rose does but that is for a another time)
AC/DC is a band that has survived. They made it off the Australian continent to become one of the top-selling artists of all time. They have faced really tough times over the last three years, however. They’ve lost Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson to illness, Phil Rudd to legal trouble and Cliff Williams retired. Angus Young seems adamant about keeping the AC/DC express going because that’s what he does. He keeps going and it adds more fuel to the fire of the using Bon’s lyrics to finish Back in Black. He is the Energizer Bunny, folks. He keeps going and going and going and going…
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