When I was in seventh grade I had a friend named Chris. We’d sit around his basement listening to albums and one of our favorites was Highway to Hell. He loved Bon Scott and could sing just like him – for a minute. Only a minute because Chris had Leukemia and his voice would dry up. Chris didn’t live to hear the Back in Black album which would have suited him fine. Bon Scott was part of Chris’ soul and therefor part of mine. My AC/DC covers album What’s Next To The Moon was as much of a tribute to Chris as it was to AC/DC. In 2015 I finally got to visit Bon Scott’s grave in Perth. It was an overcast, drizzly day at the Freemantle Cemetery and my band members and I were walking around, clueless as to where it was. We found a guy sitting on a lawn chair. He said “I know what you guys are looking for” and led us to the Bon’s grave; a humble little gravestone with black stars leading down a pathway from Carrington Road. For those who haven’t been there, you don’t have to go through the main entrance on Leach Highway – The Highway to Hell – to find Bon Scott’s grave. Look for the arched gateway on Carrington Road that says “Bon Scott.” Bon was one of the best singers who ever lived. He could scream, sing the blues, write lyrics, and he had what very few rock singers have. A warm, soulful tone.
That’s Koz quote is from billboard website but to the editor where I lifted it from or Mark himself because I heard him kind-of tell this same story last time he played a show in Perth. Anyway Fremantle is spelled that not Freemantle, I’m dyslexic so I most likely spelled every word on my blog wrong but I do know for a fact that’s how that is spelled.
Yeah, I know Leach Highway should lead to Bon’s grave but if you want to know the “real” Highway to Hell Bon is writing/singing about in Perth/Fremantle? Then that’s Canning Highway! A road leading up from Fremantle, where Scott grew-up here to almost the Perth CBD. Just before you get to that, is where the old Raffles Hotel once was. This was one of Bon’s fave pubs to drink at back in his day. On this road, at the end of a hill with a very steep decline is Canning Bridge on the intersection on your left is Raffles or after drinking all night at closing time and going home would be on your right leaving, if you living in Freo? Back in the 60’s/70’s this was the perfect place people killed themselves in their cars a lot and even rumor has it Scott did have some very close calls here himself, almost didn’t even joined AC/DC. Canning was nicknamed by locals the highway to hell not that even that stop peeps going there and drinking all night. Anyway cut to years later and Scott used it on what would be his last AC/DC album and it’s title track. By the mid-90’s re-developers got their hands on the land and luxury harbourside apartments is what is there now, you know?
Far above at the top of this post is Riff Raff as covered by MK on his What’s Next to the Moon album of 2001. Then AC/DC’s Night Prowler is the last track on the Highway to Hell album of 1979 just below because they finally put it on Youtube. I couldn’t help not re-post Koz quote plus I’ve already blogged about those places before on my blog but that’s it again, if you missed it or something? In truth most W.A. peeps don’t even care about all this stuff and history. They did put a bronze statue of Scott up at Fremantle Boat Harbour but that wasn’t really where he hung-out, that’s now just a big huge tourist trap! Scott’s got a few books written about him and best I’ve read are: Clinton Walker’s Highway to Hell (1994) and 33 1/3 Series’ AC/DC’s Highway to Hell by Joe Bonomo.
Edit (8/8/19) Off course, I guess all cities around the world have black spot, death traps? Angus Young is still around today and told Guitar World in 1993:
“And all we’d done is describe what it’s like to be on the road for four years, like we’d been… A lot of it was bus and car touring, with no real break… You crawl off the bus at four o’clock in the morning, and some journalist’s doing a story and he says, ‘What would you call an AC/DC tour?’ Well, it was a highway to hell. It really was. When you’re sleeping with the singer’s socks two inches from your nose, that’s pretty close to hell.”