How much if any did Bon Scott contribute to AC/DC's Back in Black?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by serge, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. serge

    serge Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Arlington, VA
    well..mosdef bon scott ac dc is my favorite band probably ever.. i know that seems like hyperbole..

    having said that brian johnson may be the quintessential hard rock singer and probably did the greatest fill in job in the history of rock...i'd call any band with malcolm and angus young in it the real ac dc.. but yeah.. I miss Bon Scott A LOT and I didn't even know him..there's something about that scamp; a party on two legs.

    the real question for me is always the same though: had bon scott put any work into what became back in black because its just hard to believe that brian johnson could step in and knock off back in black.. had they been working on the songs with bon or just writing the music? only two living people probably know the answer to that -maybe three or four- and they ain't speaking. bon died in late february and they cut the album in april.. i think its highly likely bon scott worked on some of the stuff and had some draft lyrics. I mean it seems highly unlikely that back in black was all written without input from bon. highway to hell was written in early 1979 and are we to think that nothing was written for the next 12 months??

    i am not knocking the young brothers: they have taken care of bon scott's family. but bon scott's bawdier lyrics were always a bit more clever than brian's, no? its hard to fault brian for the band's evolution though as the young brothers wrote the music..but its reasonable to wonder if ac dc would have evolved differently with bon scott....and thats my 2 cents.

    one more cent: we do know that phil rudd the drummer was very unhappy after bon died, got into big fights with malcolm and left the band/was fired by early 83.. and thats about all we know for sure.. what is Rudd knew that Bon had had something to do with Back in Black and wasn't comfortable with that? its purely guess work but..
  2. speedking75

    speedking75 New Member

    Personally, I think Bon contributed his fair share of lyrics to the album. In Clinton Walker's biography, Bon's significant other mentioned a pilfered notebook...
  3. Andrew Smith

    Andrew Smith Forum Resident

    I read in a magazine recently an interview with Angus Young - he said in the interview that him and Bon had some ideas for the next album which was to become Back In Black, but when Bon died all these ideas were scrapped and the band started a fresh (with regards to writing songs). Also, Bon Scott isn't credited for any of the songs on Back In Black, neither written or co-written. I would've though if some of the songs on Back In Black were written or partly written by Bon then the band would've credited him on the album. I don't believe the band would just ignore the fact if Bon had contributed to some of those songs on Back In Black, and he would've been credited for them. However, the time span between Bon's death and the release of Back In Black was fairly short and it does seem strange that all the songs were written and recorded in that short space of time.

    There's three possible answers to this I think:
    1. The band have lied about Bon having contributed to Back In Black
    2. The band just worked really hard between the months after Bon Scott's death and the release of Back In Black (with regards to writing and recording)
    3. The rest of the band (such as Angus, Malcolm or Phil Rudd) had already written songs on their own prior to Scott's death, and these are the songs that appeared on Back In Black. Maybe Brian Johnson added lyrics to these songs later on, as Brian is credited as co-writing the songs on Black In Black.

    I personally think No.2 is the correct one.
  4. ModernDayWarrior

    ModernDayWarrior Forum Resident

    Rahway, NJ, USA
    I always got the impression that Angus and Malcolm wrote the lyrics for the album, not Brian.

    If the band wrote the whole album in that short span of time, it's incredible that they came up with such a classic. They must have really been driven by Bon's death.

    I like Brian, but I'll always love the Bon era more. There was just something about Bon that was just magical.
  5. off_2_the_side

    off_2_the_side Forum Resident

    Brantford, Canada
    Rudd's escalated drug use would certainly flow logically from the first thing you mentioned over to the second and third thing...
  6. Tony Caldwell

    Tony Caldwell Forum Resident

    Being a big Bon Scott fan, I hope that they didn't screw their late friend by using his lyrics without credit.

    Over time, I have come to believe that they probably used some riffs they had in the bag, but none of Bon's lyrics.

    Still, "You Shook Me All Night Long" certainly has a Bon feel to it.
  7. speedking75

    speedking75 New Member

    I've always thought(wishful thinking) Bon had a hand in writing "Have A Drink On Me"...because if he didn't, then it's kind of tasteless, considering the way Bon died.
  8. Tony Caldwell

    Tony Caldwell Forum Resident

    Hmm... I never really really thought of that. I'll have to give it a listen and think about it.
    Slice likes this.
  9. physicalchemistry

    physicalchemistry New Member

    "You Shook Me All Night Long" was first titled "Shook Me All Night Long" and somewhat formulated by the Young's. Brian Johnson took the somewhat formulations, went into another room, and in 15 minutes, fleshed out the lyrics.
    vonwegen likes this.
  10. Further

    Further Forum Resident

    Ontario, Canada
    I heard from someone in the tape-trading community that is pretty well connected as far as being in the know about rare tapes that exist but don't circulate...he had mentioned a friend of his is in possession of a tape of early sessions for Back In Black that include Bon Scott's vocals on 4 songs....the others have no vocals. Everything was still a work in progress at that point. Who knows for sure? I tend to believe him as I also suspect there was a lot there before Brian showed up on the scene.

    What's curious is, if this true, why would the band want to go to such great lengths to hide that fact? It certainly makes sense that you wouldn't have both singers on the album, so I don't see any harm in Brian singing what was there and writing lyrics for the remaining songs that were already worked out.

    That being said, I would love to hear those tracks with Bon. AC/DC was certainly not the same without him, imo.
  11. PJJK

    PJJK Forum Resident

    Pennsylvania - USA
    Are there any acdc songs that have a similar cadence to Back in Black?
  12. serge

    serge Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Arlington, VA
    because they had to prove they could start over and keep going without him.... they had to make a clean break and prove they didn't need bon scott to be a success...
    Jimmy B. likes this.
  13. serge

    serge Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Arlington, VA
    Its also hard to believe that Brian Johnson wrote all the lyrics... the same Brian Johnson who would later on be relieved of his duties in the lyric writing department....

    The Young brothers have been so private about it all... one way of knowing or at least having a good theory would be to know how they went about writing the songs..did they do no work at all prior to the studio... did Malcolm and Angus come up with the riffs without any talking to Bon.. and then Bon came in and heard them and wrote the lyrics? was there no interaction between the Young brothers and Bon between album recording sessions??? Maybe that is the way they did it.. if so then its possible that the lyrics were entirely by Brian maybe with an assist from the Youngs...

    Maybe a clue is that there is a live album called If You Want Blood You've got it which was released October 78 but predates the song If You Want Blood You've got it from Highway to Hell recorded supposedly at the Highway to Hell sessions starting February 79

    so why is it not possible to think that Bon Scott would have tossed song titles/fragments prior to Back in Black recording sessions? Does that make sense?
    The Beave likes this.
  14. Further

    Further Forum Resident

    Ontario, Canada
    I'm not sure what the songs were, as he never went into specific titles, just that 4 of the tracks on the session tape had completed vocals from Bon. These same 4 songs apparently appeared on the album with Brian's vocals. The rest were instrumentals that were not finished yet or had no vocals. He did mention that the guy was adamant that he not be identified, as he was nervous about the band's reaction if they knew someone was in possession of it. I suppose it's all speculation unless you've heard the tape, which I haven't.
  15. rockledge

    rockledge Forum Resident

    right here
    I remember when all of this went down and the album came out.
    The band was in a predicament. They despirately needed to put out an album that not only had a singer that didn't piss the fans off, they also had to make sure people didn't think they were soiling Bon Scotts memory by getting an impersonator.
    For that reason alone, it would seem to me logical that they chose all new material.
    No doubt they were walking on eggshells while making the album, I wonder how much material they had to either change or round file just out of little quirks in it that may have ired fans.
    These guys were REALLY under the microscope at the time, and both the press and fans were quite cynical about whether or not they could carry on. Most were betting not.
  16. The Hud

    The Hud Not As Dumb As I Look

    I have no reason to believe the credits on the album are wrong, and I will believe they are correct until proven otherwise.
  17. troyvod

    troyvod Forum Resident

    Did they have music written - Yep. At least 50% of it i'd imagine
    Were lyrics written - almost for sure, but i doubt complete songs, maybe titles, a stray verse and chorus.
    Do i think a rehearsal tape exists. - Yes
  18. phoenixhwy1982

    phoenixhwy1982 The Last Cowboy

    Chicago wouldn't have happened without him.
  19. hellion

    hellion Forum Resident

    There is a bootleg making the rounds with these so called tracks available, but they have been pretty much discounted as fakes,. still a fun listen to think what might have been ,lol
  20. Damien DiAngelo

    Damien DiAngelo Forum Resident

    Michigan, USA
    I saw an interview with the band a few years ago that explained it like this: The music was basically written before they hired Brian. Brian was then told that he needed to come up with the lyrics, since Bon did that. Brian started to worry, since he isn't a great writer. Then, one night, something happened to Brian when he was alone. He wouldn't talk much about it in this interview, since he said he had talked about it before & no one believed him, but basically alluded to a visit from Bon from beyond the grave to help him finish the songs.
    If you believe in that sort of thing, cool. But makes me lean toward the lyrics basically being done. They wanted to prove they could do it without Bon, so they said that he didn't write them, Brian did. (Pilfered notebook?) It doesn't seem like they'd shaft Bon's family from the song-writing credits, but that would be why they would feel like they needed to take care of his family.
    The Ole' Rocker, bzfgt and Jimmy B. like this.
  21. ad180

    ad180 Forum Resident

    Here's a VH1 documentary about Back in Black. Brian talks about writing the lyrics:

    DrAftershave and musicfan37 like this.
  22. PJJK

    PJJK Forum Resident

    Pennsylvania - USA
    I just can't believe the "secret tapes" wouldn't leak with the web. It seems like somebody would have posted it by now.

    As far as I'm concerned they don't exist.
  23. Michael Bohannon

    Michael Bohannon Well-Known Member

    Lexington Kentucky
    I have a tendancy to believe that fragments of songs were present at the time of Bon Scotts death and maybe even flushed out patterns for a couple, but I also believe that any early contribution from Bon was minor enough to not be something to credit the man for. My opinion of course.
  24. Combination

    Combination Forum Resident

    New Orleans
    Sometime in the mid 90's, some very well connected people in that world told me that the only person known to own that tape (outside of the group) was an extremely well-known drummer. So I would definitely believe someone not wanting to be identified.

    Most of the really cool, uncirculating stuff (choose your band) is on YouTube, etc., unfortunately, but some stuff actually does remain locked away.
  25. serge

    serge Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Arlington, VA
    Brian is also on record with some story about how a storm hit Nassau or wherever they were recording and gave him the inspiration/ideas for Hells Bells..

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