Letter written by AC/DC's Bon Scott bought by Australian government

News 01/04/2019

A letter written by AC/DC's lead vocalist Bon Scott during their 1978 US tour has been purchased by the Australian government. A state librarian argues that it changes perceptions of the late singer.

Written two years before his death, the letter was to Scott's girlfriend, Valerie, and detailed the highs and lows of life on the road. He wrote about owing the band money because he overspent his allowance, drummer Phil Rudd's mental health issues and of wanting to check himself into a sanitarium. 

I had to stop making phone calls when I got too much in the red with the money situation.

With a reserve price of $6,500, it sold for $14,000 in January. The Western Australia Government was confirmed as the buyer.

"There is a perception of Bon Scott — especially from the lyrics of his songs — that he was a malevolent, mischievous person. But this letter shows a different side, tender and emotional," says Dr. Trainer, the WA State Library's local music expert. 

Dr. Trainer says Scott - who migrated to WA from Scotland - was important to WA's cultural identity, having been involved in the local music industry since the 1960s. 

The letter was written when AC/DC were already a major international music force, promoting their fifth studio album. So it was surprising to hear of Scott's money problems in the letter:

"I had to stop making phone calls when I got too much in the red with the money situation. I’m already about $130 into this week’s wages but about two weeks ago I owed the band about $70 on pay day & that’s crazy. But being crazy is about the only way to keep my sanity if you know what I mean," he wrote. 

Dr. Trainer said this showed the band were probably on a weekly wage while they were touring, "it also shows that bands have a lot of other people – like agents, managers and venue operators – who would also be taking a cut," he said.

Scott unfortunately passed away in 1980 after a heavy night of drinking in London at the age of 33.