AC/DC fans salute musical celebration of Bon Scott's wild life and times

MORE than three decades after his death following a wild night on the tiles, the life and times of Bon Scott, one of Scotland's most notorious rock stars, is being celebrated in a musical.

A stage show documenting the rocker's journey from his humble beginnings in an Angus town to global superstardom as the original singer with AC/DC opened this week in his adopted homeland of Australia. Scottish fans of the musician have praised the idea and said they hope to bring the production to Scott's birthplace next year.

The show, Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be - The Bon Scott Story, opened last week in Melbourne. Early scenes in the drama chart the singer's formative years growing up in Kirriemuir, where his family ran a bakery in Bank Street, before his parents, Chick and Isa, emigrated to the port city of Fremantle in Western Australia when he was six.

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Their son retained his love of all things Scottish. After joining AC/DC - whose members include guitarist brothers Angus and Malcolm Young, originally from Glasgow - Scott occasionally wore a Scotland top on stage.

The singer, whose real name was Ronald Belford Scott, also maintained a keen interest in the bagpipes, an instrument he learned from his father and deployed to good use on the track, It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll). The Australian musical features a procession of pipers, in addition to live performances of early AC/DC numbers.

While the production is only being staged at Melbourne's Athenaeum Theatre for a two-week run, those behind the successful Bon Fest event in Kirriemuir are eager to bring the show to Scotland.

"I think the musical is a fantastic idea, I can see how Bon's life would lend itself to the idea of a stage show similar to We Will Rock You," said Graham Galloway, chairman of DD8 Music, a not-for-profit organisation which runs Bon Fest.

The mini-festival featuring museum exhibitions and Scott-era AC/DC tribute bands has been growing in popularity since it began five years ago. Those behind it believe the life of the town's most raucous son is ideal material for a stage show.

"The show is a great idea and we might have to investigate and see if we can get it to Kirriemuir. We're just trying to figure out what we're going to do for next year's Bon Fest, and something like that sounds great."

The lead role in Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be is played by Nick Barker, a singer-songwriter and long-time AC/DC fan. He said: "The impact that AC/DC had on me as a teenager was huge. Even growing up as a musician I spent a lot of my time playing in pubs and AC/DC was the benchmark.

"Bon Scott is an Australian icon as much as Ned Kelly. We're doing his show with the humility and truth that it deserves. We don't have a lot of icons like him in this country. He was a real rebel."

The musical has been written by Andrew Barker, who created a similar project around the life of Johnny Cash, and is directed by Brian Nankervis. Doug Parkinson, an Australian singer who used to support Scott's former band, The Valentines, is the narrator.

Scott died in 1980 just months after recording the AC/DC's seminal album, Highway To Hell. He was 33.

The band replaced him with Brian Johnson, and attained even greater success, selling more than 150 million records worldwide during their 35-year career. An exhibition about AC/DC will be held in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Museum this September.