Book review: ‘Live Wire’ – Mary Renshaw, John D’Arcy and Gabby D’Arcy (2015)

Bon Scott live wire

YOU could be forgiven for thinking the story of AC/DC and Bon Scott has been pretty well covered in print, and any further books could be deemed unnecessary.

He may have been arguably the greatest Australian rock singer and frontman of all time, but he died 35 years ago, and his story’s been told, right? Wrong.

Scott’s life as the frontman of AC/DC is indeed well documented, but less well-known is the ‘long way to the top’ he travelled to get to the point of global success, before tragically dying in his sleep after a heavy alcohol binge. Scott earned his keep in bands very different to AC/DC before hitting the big time; most prominently bubblegum pop outfit The Valentines in the late sixties, and prog-rockers Fraternity in the early seventies. Ex-wife Irene Thornton’s book, My Bon Scott, released last year, covers the Fraternity era in wonderful detail, so it’s fitting that this title reads almost like a companion piece to that publication, while covering Scott’s earlier Valentines-era life with an affectionate and nostalgic approach.

The authors are well-placed to be authorities on this particular period of Scott’s life. John D’Arcy is a legendary Australian roadie, who fondly remembers the days of ‘one band, one van, one roadie’ when he worked for the Valentines and shared in all their excesses and squalor living in grotty Melbourne flats in the late sixties. Gabby D’Arcy was a fan of the Valentines from day one, and hung with the band as their career progressed, becoming a long-term friend of Scott’s, and Mary Renshaw was a long-term friend (and sometime mistress) from the Valentines days to his death.

So, is there a lot to tell about a band that is little more than a footnote in the career of a great rock singer? The answer is yes, as the man born Ronald Belford Scott packed several lifetime’s worth of debauchery into his short time on earth. Reading like a personal memoir, Live Wire recounts not only tales of drug busts, groupies, life on the road, fast-living rock ‘n’ rollers, and an Australian music scene gone forever, but the humour and good-natured outlook of a person known as one of the wildest men of rock. Through a series of funny and personal recollections, we see the man who never forgot to write letters to his old friends, always came home to family no matter how long he had been overseas, and ultimately, shuffled off this mortal coil aged only 33. Live Wire is a fitting tribute to an Australian legend.

For Scenestr

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