Bon Scott

Ex­actly when, where and, es­pe­cially, how did Bon Scott die? Thirty-seven years af­ter the event, and 12 years af­ter Clas­sic Rock dis­cov­ered mys­te­ri­ous events and pos­si­ble dirty deeds, still no one knows for sure. In his new book, Jesse Fink throws in­trigui

Classic Rock - - Contents - This is an abridged, edited ex­tract of Bon: The Last High­way by Jesse Fink, out now through Black & White Pub­lish­ing.

Ex­actly when, where and, es­pe­cially, how did Bon Scott die? A new book presents star­tling new ev­i­dence that throws in­trigu­ing new light on a dark story.

Bon Scott’s death is ar­guably to rock mu­sic what the JFK assassination is to Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal his­tory: the great un­solved mys­tery of our time. The play­ers in­volved con­tra­dict each other, pieces of cru­cial in­for­ma­tion are miss­ing, and very lit­tle of what has been pre­sented as fact stands up to rig­or­ous scru­tiny; all of which fu­els the var­i­ous con­spir­acy the­o­ries.

Much of the gen­er­ally ac­cepted ver­sion of events has been built around the tes­ti­monies of Alis­tair Kin­n­ear, Joe Fury and Sil­ver Smith, three peo­ple all allegedly as­so­ci­ated in some way with heroin; the tight-lipped mem­bers of AC/DC; and a Ja­panese girl, Anna Baba, who had only re­cently been dumped by Bon af­ter a ca­sual re­la­tion­ship that lasted less than four weeks and wasn’t ac­tu­ally with him on the night of his death.

Now, what I be­lieve is the true story can be told. And it’s easy to tell it sim­ply by de­con­struct­ing Alis­tair’s 2005 state­ment to friend and crosswords com­piler Mag­gie Mon­tal­bano that ran in Metal Ham­mer & Clas­sic Rock Present

AC/DC. It be­gan:

“In late 1978 I met Sil­ver Smith, with whom I moved to a flat in

Kens­ing­ton. She was a some­time girl­friend of Bon Scott. Bon came to stay with us for two weeks, and he and I be­came friends. Sil­ver re­turned to Aus­tralia for a year, and I moved to Over­hill Road in East Dul­wich. On the night of 18 Fe­bru­ary 1980, Xena [sic] Kak­oulli, man­ager of The Only Ones, and wife of band­leader Peter Per­rett, in­vited me to the in­au­gu­ral gig of her sis­ter’s band at The Mu­sic Machine in Camden Town (re­named Camden Palace in 1982).”

Peter Per­rett and his wife of ten years, Xe­noulla ‘Zena’ (al­ter­nately spelled as Xena) Kak­oulli were good friends of Alis­tair, ac­cord­ing to Sil­ver: “They’d known each other for­ever. I only met Peter and his wife once, but I know they were very close.” They were also well known for their fond­ness of heroin.

In 2009, Per­rett de­scribed to MOJO the Lon­don drug scene of the time: “In Amer­ica I could spend $500 a day and not even get straight be­cause the heroin was so weak. The street stuff there, it was be­tween two and six per cent heroin be­cause it had been con­trolled by the Mafia and or­gan­ised crime for so long and that was how they cut it. That’s why so many Amer­i­can junkies OD’d when they came to Eng­land… We were awash in this Ira­nian brown heroin, on ac­count of the rich Ira­ni­ans flee­ing their coun­try, tak­ing their money out in drugs. It was eas­ier than smug­gling gold.

“You see, in the 60s junkies got most of their stuff from doc­tors, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal stuff, which isn’t the same. There was the oc­ca­sional white heroin, which was from the Golden Tri­an­gle. That was nor­mally quite weak, but there weren’t that many junkies around and there just wasn’t a black market in it. Plus you had to in­ject that stuff, and it seemed a big step to go from smok­ing a joint or snort­ing a bit of coke to stick­ing a nee­dle in your arm. But with the brown heroin you could snort it, or just smoke it, and smok­ing it just seemed less threat­en­ing.”

But while in­ject­ing is by far and away the most lethal method of heroin ad­min­is­tra­tion, snort­ing and smok­ing also claim lives. A 2003 pa­per by re­searchers at the Karolin­ska In­sti­tutet in Stock­holm found that of 239 heroin-re­lated deaths in Stock­holm from 1997 to 2000, 188 were from in­ject­ing, 33 were un­de­ter­mined, 11 were from snort­ing and seven from smok­ing.

Of those 18 deaths from snort­ing or smok­ing, 83 per cent were male with a me­dian age of 32. Five of the 18 were ca­sual or ‘party users’. In eight cases there were eye­wit­nesses to the deaths. Three dropped dead im­me­di­ately af­ter smok­ing or snort­ing, “the other five fell asleep and were found dead later on”. The re­search team also found that fac­tors such as al­co­hol and the pres­ence of other drugs were “im­por­tant” con­trib­u­tors to caus­ing death from heroin over­dose.

Brown heroin burns at a lower tem­per­a­ture than white heroin, hence it be­ing used for smok­ing. In Lon­don in early 1980, the in-thing was to smoke or snort brown heroin.

Says Paul Chap­man of UFO: “In Amer­ica, heroin was taboo at the time. So you get back to Lon­don, the first thing you do would be to dial up some­body you

“If ev­ery­body around him [Bon] is do­ing this [heroin], I’m sur­prised that he’s not.”

Paul Chap­man, for­merly of UFO

knew that had a bit of it. I was think­ing, ‘[Bon’s] only just got here… if he hadn’t con­nected [with heroin] al­ready, if ev­ery­body around him is do­ing this, I’m sur­prised that he’s not, you know, par­tak­ing like ev­ery­body else.’”

Sil­ver told me that the heroin trade in Lon­don in 1980 was “a hip­pie thing on a small scale. It was very small scale. The im­por­ta­tion was a cou­ple of ounces at a time; it wasn’t sort of or­gan­ised bloody con­tainer loads.”

Users in Lon­don mostly sought brown heroin to snort it, and she snorted her­self, as did most of her friends and ac­quain­tances. A few oth­ers smoked it, but she “never saw a nee­dle, never saw a gun, noth­ing like that, there was noth­ing sor­did”.

“A few travellers would bring in what was called ‘Thai white’ or ‘China white’. [Heroin deal­ing] wasn’t a dis­rep­utable oc­cu­pa­tion at the time. You had to have a few things go­ing for you. You know, dis­cre­tion. That was an­other thing. Bon was hor­ri­bly in­dis­creet. He just didn’t think about things.”

Alis­tair’s story went on:

“I phoned Sil­ver, who was once again liv­ing in Lon­don, to see if she wanted to come along, but she’d made other ar­range­ments for the evening. How­ever, she sug­gested that Bon might be in­ter­ested, as he had phoned her ear­lier look­ing for some­thing to do. I gave him a call, and he was agree­able, and I picked him up at his flat on Ash­ley Court in West­min­ster.”

This is where things get prob­lem­atic be­cause Alis­tair’s ver­sion of events clashes with Sil­ver’s. Sil­ver lived not in a flat in Glouces­ter Road, Kens­ing­ton, as widely be­lieved, but in what she de­scribed as a “tiny at­tic” in Em­peror’s Gate, South Kens­ing­ton, about a 20-minute drive from Bon’s flat at Ash­ley Court, Vic­to­ria. And from where Alis­tair lived in Over­hill Road, East Dul­wich, it’s roughly a 40-minute drive to Em­peror’s Gate.

Sil­ver told Aus­tralia’s ABC Adelaide in 2010 that on the evening of 18 Fe­bru­ary 1980 Alis­tair was plan­ning to visit. When Bon called at around 7.30 pm ask­ing her to go out, she de­clined, hav­ing al­ready made plans, and sug­gested that he hook up with Alis­tair. Bon wanted to go to the club Ding­walls in Camden Lock.

Sil­ver said she told Bon: “Alis­tair’s com­ing over later, do you want me to get him to ring you? He might go with you.” And that’s what hap­pened. They set off to­gether.

Yet in the orig­i­nal 1994 edi­tion of Australian au­thor Clin­ton Walker’s bi­og­ra­phy of Bon, High­way To Hell, she de­scribed an­other sce­nario al­to­gether: Alis­tair was al­ready in her flat when Bon called. She said: “Oh, Alis­tair’s here, I’ll see if he wants to go.”

How did those de­tails come to change so dra­mat­i­cally in 16 years? Why was there no men­tion what­so­ever of Joe Fury shar­ing her flat, as he claimed when I in­ter­viewed him?

Alis­tair and Bon were quite the odd cou­ple but they knew each other well and were friends. Sil­ver told me the pair had first met years be­fore at the flat she was then oc­cu­py­ing in Abing­don Vil­las, Kens­ing­ton. Alis­tair even moved in with them for a pe­riod. On this de­tail, Alis­tair’s state­ment to Mon­tal­bano is sub­stan­ti­ated: “He ac­tu­ally stayed with us, Bon and I, for a cou­ple of months be­cause he had work up in the city.”

Af­ter that, they lost con­tact, but “the night that Bon died, we hadn’t seen him in quite a while”.

Adding some weight to Alis­tair’s claim that he knew Bon, Clin­ton Walker’s book es­tab­lished that Anna Baba called Alis­tair af­ter Bon’s death. She had his num­ber. It ap­pears with his name on the in­side back cover of a pocket book allegedly owned by Bon but in Anna’s pos­ses­sion.

“When I saw him at the flat, [Bon] was al­ready so drunk,” Anna quotes Alis­tair as telling her. In a short in­ter­view with Lon­don’s Evening Stan­dard in 1980 Alis­tair said the same thing: “[Bon] was pretty drunk when I picked him up.”

So it’s odd that Alis­tair makes no men­tion at all in his state­ment to Mon­tal­bano of Bon be­ing drunk when he ar­rived some­time be­tween 11pm and mid­night at Bon’s flat.

Joe Fury [see panel, right] thinks it was out of char­ac­ter for Bon to be drunk at home so early in the evening: “I found it a bit funny… [it was] un­usual for [Bon]. He must have been pretty damn drunk when Alis­tair picked him up [for Alis­tair] to say that Bon was drunk, ’cause he could drink a bit and you wouldn’t re­ally know it.”

In an in­ter­view with a Cana­dian pod­cast, Colin Burgess, AC/DC’s first drum­mer, said he and his mu­si­cian brother Denny may have been at The Mu­sic Machine that night, though he con­ceded, “I’m not sure… we went there with Bon… I can’t re­mem­ber; it was a long time ago.” He’s on the record else­where as say­ing Bon didn’t ap­pear in­tox­i­cated: “Bon was sober… I can­not re­mem­ber Bon be­ing drunk enough to kill him­self in a car. I mean, come on.”

Yet, if we are to ac­cept Alis­tair’s ear­lier com­ments, Bon was al­ready drunk and got drunker as the night went on, re­put­edly drink­ing seven dou­ble whiskies.

“It was a great party, and Bon and I both drank far too much, both at the free bar back­stage and at the up­stairs bar as well; how­ever I did not see him take any drugs that evening.”

Not see­ing him take drugs is dif­fer­ent from him not tak­ing drugs. Lone­some No More was the band play­ing that night. Lead singer Koulla Kak­oulli, sis­ter of Zena, had done back­ing vo­cal work for both solo artist Johnny Thun­ders and Peter Per­rett’s new band, The Only Ones, in 1978. Con­trary to some re­ports, fu­ture gui­tarist for The Cult, Billy Duffy, wasn’t play­ing gui­tar that night with Lone­some No More – but he was there at the club.

“It’s very sim­ple,” says Duffy. “I had been in­vited down to watch Lone­some No More play that night with a view to I think re­plac­ing the gui­tarist, which even­tu­ally hap­pened, but I don’t think at that point I played with them.

“I was at the side-stage bar at the venue and I re­mem­ber see­ing Bon and an­other guy walk by, prob­a­bly grab a drink at the bar and then dis­ap­pear back­stage. That’s it, re­ally. I had seen AC/DC play in Manch­ester a cou­ple of years pre­vi­ously and was a huge fan so there was no mis­tak­ing Bon.”

“At the end of the party I of­fered to drive him home. As we ap­proached his flat, I re­alised that Bon had drifted into un­con­scious­ness. I left him in my car and rang his door­bell, but his cur­rent live-in girl­friend didn’t an­swer. I took Bon’s keys and let my­self into the flat, but no-one was at home. I was un­able to wake Bon, so I rang Sil­ver for ad­vice. She said that he passed out quite fre­quently, and that it was best just to leave him to sleep it off.”

Again, Alis­tair’s ac­count is at odds with Sil­ver’s. Sil­ver said that “the keys got jammed in­side the door” while Alis­tair was at­tempt­ing to en­ter Bon’s flat. Alis­tair makes no men­tion of this.

“Ac­cord­ing to Sil­ver, when they got to Ash­ley Court, Kin­n­ear couldn’t move Bon,” wrote Walker. “He roused him, but Bon couldn’t, or wouldn’t, move. Think­ing he could usher him in­side if he cleared a path, Kin­n­ear took Bon’s keys and opened the flat, leav­ing the door ajar. The build­ing’s front door, how­ever, pre­sented Kin­n­ear with some­thing of a prob­lem, and al­though he man­aged to open it, he sub­se­quently locked him­self out.”

The keys jammed, or he locked him­self out? It’s an­other in­con­sis­tency made more puz­zling by the fact that the im­por­tant fac­tor of Bon’s house keys isn’t ref­er­enced in Alis­tair’s state­ment to

Mon­tal­bano. As for the phone call, why would Alis­tair be ring­ing Sil­ver ask­ing for “ad­vice” when he was al­ready in­side Bon’s fourth-floor flat, #15, and a nat­u­ral course of ac­tion would be to carry him up­stairs or at the very least at­tempt to do so?

He’d al­ready driven drunk, by his own ad­mis­sion, from The Mu­sic Machine. How hard could it be to throw an arm around Bon’s waist and try to get him in­side? Sil­ver said she got the call from “a very dis­tressed Alis­tair” around 1am, say­ing: “He’s passed out. He’s half passed out. What do I do?”

It wasn’t un­com­mon for Bon to drift off into a stu­por from al­co­hol so, again, why would Alis­tair call Sil­ver in such a panic from in­side Bon’s flat if he thought it was just al­co­holic in­tox­i­ca­tion?

“I sug­gested he take him home [to Alis­tair’s flat in East Dul­wich],” said Sil­ver, “where he might be able to get some help to get him up the stairs.”

Or in other words, she was sug­gest­ing to an in­tox­i­cated Alis­tair, who had the passed-out lead singer of AC/DC in his car, that he travel twice as far as he needed to, rather than drive the shorter dis­tance to her flat in Em­peror’s Gate, where she (and Joe, whom she failed to men­tion was there) could con­ceiv­ably be of at least some as­sis­tance.

“I was up five flights, he was up three, so that seemed sen­si­ble, ’cause I was six-and-a-half stone and used to wear four-inch heels… I’d been in that sit­u­a­tion with Bon many times and it was dif­fi­cult, be­lieve me.”

Whose help ex­actly was Alis­tair go­ing to get at that time of the morn­ing? Why couldn’t Sil­ver get help from Joe or of­fer Alis­tair a hand her­self? Why hadn’t Alis­tair called his own fa­ther, An­gus, a doc­tor who lived in For­est Hill, next to East Dul­wich, if he was wor­ried about Bon’s health and didn’t want to go to a hospi­tal? He lived only a mile from Alis­tair’s apart­ment.

To­day Joe is gen­uinely re­gret­ful he didn’t help Alis­tair, talk­ing of “my own guilt that I hadn’t gone out with [Bon] that night and tried to keep an eye on things… this is where you take a lot of ‘if only’. If only I’d gone to help Alis­tair try and get

[Bon] into his own flat.”

He thinks that if Alis­tair had in fact lost Bon’s keys he was con­cerned at the time with the ques­tion of “Where will I take him back to if I can’t get into his flat?” This is per­haps un­der­stand­able, if Joe was with Sil­ver in a tiny apart­ment con­tain­ing one bed and not much else. But “af­ter so many oc­ca­sions [of see­ing Bon passed out] you just sort of think, ‘Oh, it’s an­other night out. Sleep it off in the car.’”

Joe says his re­ac­tion that night to Alis­tair’s call for help might have been dif­fer­ent “if Bon had been in rea­son­able con­di­tion, [if] he hadn’t been drunk all the time”.

The guilt lingers to this day even if the mem­o­ries of that fate­ful morn­ing re­main foggy.

“I felt indebted a bit to Bon be­cause he’d al­ways been very gen­er­ous [to me]. Later I was think­ing, ‘Well, shit, he rang and said, “Do you want to go out?” I should have said, “Yep.’” If I had gone out with him then I would have got him [in­side], sorta got him home. When Alis­tair called, maybe I should have said, ‘Okay stay there, I’ll come down’ or ‘Bring him back here’ or some­thing like that, which makes me think I was prob­a­bly at Sil­ver’s place.”

Were Bon’s story a TV who­dun­nit, a nat­u­ral de­duc­tion to make at this point is that Bon was pos­si­bly al­ready dead. Is that why Alis­tair was call­ing Sil­ver in a blind panic? Had he told Sil­ver and Joe the whole truth of what was go­ing on? A man in such a predica­ment might have thought that leav­ing Bon’s keys in­side his flat would make it look like Bon had been there; that he’d stopped by to col­lect some­thing and gone some­where else.

We know from Walker’s book that the care­taker at Ash­ley Court left a note be­hind for Bon on the 19th, say­ing a set of keys had been found on the mat in­side the front door, the door of the flat was open, and all the lights and ra­dios were left on.

But why would they be left on? Turn­ing on a ra­dio is not the first thing you do in the early hours of the morn­ing while at­tempt­ing to carry a passed-out friend to their bed­room or bath­room, un­less you’re try­ing to wake them up.

“I then drove to my flat on Over­hill Road and tried to lift him out of the car, but he was too heavy for me to carry in my in­tox­i­cated state, so I put the front pas­sen­ger seat back so that he could lie flat, cov­ered him with a blan­ket, left a note with my ad­dress and phone num­ber on it, and stag­gered up­stairs to bed.”

I pro­pose to Paul Chap­man that Bon may have al­ready been dead, Alis­tair pan­icked, and made the de­ci­sion to leave Bon’s body in the car to make it look like he died of nat­u­ral causes dur­ing the night. At 67 Over­hill Road, there were only six flats. Alis­tair’s one-bed­room flat was on the top floor, #6. It re­ally wouldn’t have taken a huge ef­fort to get Bon up the stairs and in­side.

“Surely some­body wouldn’t just leave him there? Wow. I’ve never thought of that. Now that’s just opened up a whole new thing in my head. Who would do that? Some­body must have been ex­tremely out of it up­stairs, wher­ever up­stairs was, and for­got­ten Bon was in the car. I re­mem­ber how cold it was at my flat when the Calor gas went out,

‘Why would Alis­tair call

Sil­ver in such a panic from in­side Bon’s flat if he thought it was just al­co­holic in­tox­i­ca­tion?’

let alone be­ing in a car out­side. Who­ever was down there with Bon in [East] Dul­wich must have been up­stairs nod­ding out. That’s the only thing I can think of. I can­not be­lieve that some­body would not go out and check on him in that weather.”

Chap­man men­tions the weather and it’s worth elab­o­rat­ing upon. There are sundry mis­lead­ing sto­ries of Bon dy­ing from hy­pother­mia or freez­ing to death.

I checked with the Met Of­fice. Tem­per­a­tures that morn­ing of 19 Fe­bru­ary 1980 didn’t get colder than five de­grees Cel­sius. Both the 18th and 19th were dry days with slightly above av­er­age tem­per­a­tures. So there was no frost.

The air tem­per­a­ture wasn’t that cold, then, for Bon to freeze to death. He wasn’t ex­posed to wind. It wasn’t rain­ing. Bon was clothed, dry and, ac­cord­ing to Alis­tair, had a blan­ket, pos­si­bly two. Hy­pother­mia typ­i­cally oc­curs af­ter ex­po­sure to a com­bi­na­tion of wind, wa­ter and cold air, or at least two of those fac­tors. And while al­co­hol and drugs can re­duce body tem­per­a­ture and ex­po­sure to cold air can bring on an asthma at­tack, Bon would have had to be es­pe­cially un­lucky to per­ish from hy­pother­mia when he was dry, pro­tected from the wind in an air­tight space, and the tem­per­a­ture was “above av­er­age”.

On the bal­ance of prob­a­bil­i­ties and with all the avail­able ev­i­dence, there’s very lit­tle to show that Bon died from hy­pother­mia but plenty to sug­gest he per­ished from some­thing else.

Now at this crit­i­cal point in the story Alis­tair Kin­n­ear is, by his own ad­mis­sion, “in­tox­i­cated”. Yet de­spite his sup­posed drunk­en­ness, he’s just driven his Re­nault 5 for 11 miles across Lon­don from Kings Cross/Camden via Vic­to­ria/West­min­ster to East Dul­wich. Ac­cord­ing to Sil­ver Smith he made a phone call at 1am from Vic­to­ria. Alis­tair doesn’t men­tion an­other phone call to Sil­ver in his state­ment to Mag­gie Mon­tal­bano, yet both Sil­ver and Joe Fury pre­vi­ously claimed in in­ter­views that there was a sec­ond phone call.

Sil­ver de­nied there was ever any col­lu­sion be­tween her and Joe in their ac­counts of the morn­ing Alis­tair phoned. Joe cer­tainly is adamant he was not with Paul Chap­man in Ful­ham.

Ac­cord­ing to Sil­ver: “By the time [Alis­tair] got [to East Dul­wich] Bon had just com­pletely passed out; [Alis­tair] couldn’t even get him out [of] the car.”

Joe es­ti­mated that the sec­ond phone call came at 3am. That is a full two hours af­ter Alis­tair’s first call to Sil­ver. A car jour­ney of 11 miles at 1am across Lon­don shouldn’t take very long. What was Alis­tair do­ing be­tween Vic­to­ria/West­min­ster and East Dul­wich that would take two hours? At­tempt­ing to re­sus­ci­tate a dy­ing or even dead Bon?

Re­called Sil­ver for Australian ABC ra­dio: “When [Alis­tair] got home he rang me again and said, ‘[Bon’s] down in the car, I can’t get him up here.’ So I said [to Alis­tair], ‘Well, take down some blan­kets.’”

Speak­ing to me, she rub­bished the idea that she should have con­tacted the AC/DC camp im­me­di­ately af­ter Alis­tair got off the phone.

“Peo­ple think, you know, it’s like to­day where every­one’s got Face­book, every­one’s got their bloody mo­bile with them ev­ery minute of ev­ery day. It wasn’t like that.”

Even if she’d had their num­bers, which she didn’t, she thought she would have been ig­nored had she called the Youngs and told them Bon had passed out. “If I’d rung Mal­colm and An­gus and said, ‘Oh, lis­ten, Bon’s passed out in a car in South Lon­don at two o’clock [sic] in the morn­ing’, they would have just gone, ‘What the fuck are you telling me for?’ It was like, well, what’s new?”

Joe holds a sim­i­lar view: “Four o’clock [sic] in the morn­ing and some­one’s hav­ing to take care of Bon, again. When I first met Sil­ver, and I’m talk­ing about her in re­la­tion to Bon, there was a lot of that [with Bon]. It all sounds good. But he was hard, very hard work in terms of pass­ing out on you some­where, which is partly why the re­la­tion­ship be­tween me and her sort of de­vel­oped a bit. She [wanted] some­one a bit more or­gan­ised, a bit more to­gether.”

“The other thing,” Sil­ver con­tin­ued, “is if ev­ery­body rang an am­bu­lance and moved their friend to hospi­tal, every­one that ever passed out on al­co­hol, we’d need a bloody big am­bu­lance ser­vice and also an ex­pan­sion of the hospi­tal sys­tem. That’s just stupid. That’s the sort of thing, you think, ‘Well, shit. Are you kid­ding?’ I would have thought it would be log­i­cal.

“I mean, how many times have you had friends pass out on al­co­hol, es­pe­cially when you were young? You don’t ring an am­bu­lance and get them to hospi­tal. They wouldn’t thank you for it in the morn­ing. Bon did that all the time. All the time. He didn’t ever think how it was go­ing to be for the peo­ple around him. Ever. He just did.”

How­ever, de­spite Sil­ver’s le­git­i­mate protes­ta­tions, it’s con­cern­ing that by her own ac­count she got two phone calls from Alis­tair, quite pan­icked ones, and never thought the en­tire day of the 19th to ei­ther call Alis­tair to see how

Bon was or try to call Bon her­self or send some­one around to Alis­tair’s flat to check on both of them.

Then there is the is­sue of the blan­ket or blan­kets. Sil­ver told me Alis­tair “took down pil­lows and blan­kets”.

“I don’t think there was a blan­ket,” says Chap­man. “I don’t think there was any­thing. Who­ever left him in the car prob­a­bly left him in there think­ing that they weren’t go­ing to be very long.”

Were there no blan­kets at all, then hy­pother­mia would be pos­si­ble.

“You see what I mean? ‘Oh, we’ll be out in a minute. Oh, look, he’s passed out. Leave him there for a minute.’ Then next thing you know they go in, who­ever they are… and they prob­a­bly went, ‘Oh, give us a bit of that.’ And they do a bit of that. And the first thing that hap­pens is you put your head [down], bang, and you go, ‘Oh, that’s great.’ And then you nod off. I think who­ever went with Bon to Dul­wich sam­pled some of what it was they were get­ting, which is ex­actly what I would have done.”

Chap­man has been think­ing about Bon’s death for some time.

“I’m burned on this. When I say I’m burned on it, it’s just that I can’t dig in any more cor­ners and nooks and cran­nies in my brain.” He pauses for a mo­ment. “Af­ter this hap­pened [with Bon pass­ing away], I went into my dealer’s and there was some­one there who shouldn’t have been there.” Chap­man names that some­one. It was an­other mem­ber of AC/DC and he was buy­ing heroin.

“He went, ‘[Ex­press­ing hor­ror] Her­rrhhh, Tonka! Wh­hhssshhh. I gotta go.’ And he was out the door. I was like [to the dealer], ‘I didn’t know you knew…’”

UFO bass player Pete Way says the same band mem­ber later pulled a shot­gun on a for­mer mem­ber of AC/DC who’d paid him an un­ex­pected house visit.

“He was run­ning off the rails. He was very wired and in a bit of a state and he had a shot­gun… re­ally, like, in a con­di­tion. The guy only came out to say hello and he didn’t ex­pect to be greeted by a shot­gun. A lot of things were go­ing on around then that should never have been go­ing on.”

Ac­cord­ing to Sil­ver, Alis­tair left a note with his ad­dress in­side the car for Bon, “think­ing when Bon’s come out of it he’ll just come up­stairs”.

Said Alis­tair:

“It must have been 4 or 5 am by that time, and I slept un­til about 11 when I was awak­ened by a friend, Les­lie Loads. I was so hun­gover that I asked Les­lie to do me a favour of check­ing on Bon. He did so, and re­turned to tell me my car was empty, so I went back to sleep, as­sum­ing that Bon had awo­ken and taken a taxi home.”

This is the most per­plex­ing part of Alis­tair’s state­ment. Who is Les­lie Loads? No Loads has ever been in­ter­viewed or spo­ken pub­licly about the day Bon died, which surely would have hap­pened by now – un­less Loads, as I sus­pect, was a pseu­do­nym.

“Poor Alis­tair, not be­ing used to drink­ing, woke up the next morn­ing with a ter­ri­ble hang­over and de­cided not to go to work, went back to bed,” Sil­ver told Aus­tralia’s ABC in that same 2010 ra­dio in­ter­view. “And when he got out later, which was like midafter­noon, there was poor Bon still in the car.”

Alis­tair was work­ing where ex­actly? Sil­ver said “he was work­ing a lot in Cen­tral Lon­don” but could not re­call what he was do­ing at the time of Bon’s death.

But Alis­tair’s son Daniel Kin­n­ear tells me he and his mother Mo “had zero fi­nan­cial sup­port from my fa­ther”, grew up in a “very de­prived house­hold” and “were sup­ported by gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits and from ad­di­tional money that my mother earned via clean­ing jobs in pubs or other peo­ple’s houses”.

So the idea of Alis­tair be­ing gain­fully em­ployed in a day job sounds most un­likely. Just as un­likely as mys­tery fig­ure Loads go­ing down to the car and see­ing it empty. A co­matose man in two blan­kets would surely be spot­ted even if he were stretched out asleep on the back seat or ly­ing on a semi­flat­tened front seat. In their ver­sion of events, Way and Chap­man were also in­formed Bon was dead well be­fore Loads sup­pos­edly went down to Alis­tair’s car and found noth­ing in­side.

The in­tro­duc­tion of Loads into Alis­tair’s story just doesn’t seem plau­si­ble on any level. Was Alis­tair try­ing to give him­self some sort of al­ibi, to make it look like Bon had mo­men­tar­ily left the car to go some­where else? Was Loads there all along but not want­ing to be iden­ti­fied? Was he even a he?

For the first time, I can re­veal the iden­tity of

‘UFO bass player Pete Way says the same band mem­ber later pulled a shot­gun on a for­mer

mem­ber of AC/DC.’

a third per­son that was with Bon and Alis­tair in East Dul­wich on the morn­ing of 19 Fe­bru­ary 1980.

The ad­mis­sion came dur­ing an ex­change of on­line mes­sages in late 2015.

“I was there when he died, as I spent the night at Alis­tair’s flat,” says Zena Kak­oulli, Peter Per­rett’s wife and the man­ager of The Only Ones. “I don’t know why [I stayed there], as I lived not far from him. Alis­tair had met Bon be­fore that night; it wasn’t the first time they met.”

This to­tally cor­rob­o­rates what Alis­tair and Sil­ver said about Alis­tair’s friend­ship with Bon: they weren’t strangers.

You were asleep in Alis­tair’s flat when Bon was in the car?

“Yes.”

Did you go back with Bon and Alis­tair in Alis­tair’s car to East Dul­wich? Or did you ar­rive later? Was Peter Per­rett with you?

“I went back with Alis­tair and [Bon] to Alis­tair’s flat. It was very late when we got back and I re­mem­ber it be­ing very cold. Peter did not go with us that night… Alis­tair was a close friend; the last time I saw Alis­tair was a few days be­fore he went to sea [in 2006] and un­for­tu­nately dis­ap­peared… I met Bon Scott that night as Alis­tair was friends with Sil­ver and I think knew Bon through her. It is a sad mem­ory that still haunts me.”

So was Bon left in the car be­cause you couldn’t both carry him? Was he still alive when you went in­side? Do you know if he took heroin? I’m only in­ter­ested in estab­lish­ing the truth.

She’s se­lec­tive in her an­swer, ig­nor­ing my first two ques­tions, but re­veals more than I was ex­pect­ing.

“I didn’t see him tak­ing heroin, but both Alis­tair and Sil­ver were users at the time. I would think it prob­a­ble that [Bon] did take heroin as I would not have thought some­body that was used to drink­ing would have been sick. It’s well known that if you take heroin when you have been drink­ing, es­pe­cially if you don’t nor­mally, it could lead to you vom­it­ing, plus cause you to pass out. But I can only pre­sume that’s what caused him to fall asleep and later vomit. He didn’t seem un­rea­son­ably in­tox­i­cated.

“If he had taken heroin it was with Sil­ver and Alis­tair at the venue; I didn’t see him [take heroin]. Un­for­tu­nately the only per­sons that can know for sure are Sil­ver and Alis­tair. I know how dev­as­tated Alis­tair was, and how it af­fected him for years af­ter­wards. It is so bad that we will never know what hap­pened to Alis­tair. He was such a lovely guy, and his dis­ap­pear­ance has left an un­set­tling feel­ing. I miss him.”

It’s a mind-blow­ing ad­mis­sion af­ter nearly 40 years of si­lence for a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons. Zena was with Bon and Alis­tair in East Dul­wich all along, ren­der­ing il­log­i­cal the ex­pla­na­tions prof­fered by Alis­tair, Sil­ver and Joe about why Bon was left in the car, though there is no ev­i­dence Sil­ver or Joe knew she was with Alis­tair.

Ac­cord­ing to Zena’s ac­count, two able-bod­ied peo­ple were in the car with Bon – her­self and Alis­tair. They could have car­ried him in­side to ei­ther Sil­ver’s flat (with Sil­ver’s and Joe’s as­sis­tance, were he there, as he claims) or Alis­tair’s flat (on their own). Why didn’t Zena of­fer to help Alis­tair? Did she of­fer to help? Why didn’t Alis­tair take Bon to the hospi­tal when Zena de­scribed him as be­ing “sick” and hav­ing vom­ited, surely a pos­si­ble sign of a heroin over­dose, es­pe­cially so given the com­pany he was in at The Mu­sic Machine? If Alis­tair truly thought he was just deal­ing with a case of drunk­en­ness, then why bother to phone Sil­ver? Who calls and wakes up some­one both at 1am and 3am if it’s not an emer­gency? The con­ven­tional telling of Bon’s demise – Sil­ver’s, Joe’s and Alis­tair’s – just gets blown to smithereens.

I at­tempted to con­tact Zena for a series of fol­low-up ques­tions to clar­ify some of the things she said, but my mes­sages went unan­swered. Yet she left me with enough in­for­ma­tion to con­vince me Bon had suc­cumbed to a fa­tal heroin over­dose and it had ef­fec­tively been cov­ered up.

A for­mer heroin user now af­flicted with chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary dis­ease (COPD), a con­di­tion that has been widely linked in sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture to heroin in­hala­tion, Zena thinks it was “prob­a­ble” that Bon took heroin. She was there when Bon passed out and be­lieves he hadn’t con­sumed enough al­co­hol to be­come un­con­scious. She con­firms there was vomit, though whether she wit­nessed that her­self or is bas­ing her state­ment on me­dia re­ports is un­clear. Sen­sa­tion­ally, she also sug­gests that Sil­ver was ac­tu­ally at the venue with Alis­tair and Bon, which again fa­tally un­der­mines the com­monly ac­cepted story as put for­ward in Walker’s book. But, again, there is no ev­i­dence Sil­ver was at The Mu­sic Machine. If she was, she never ad­mit­ted it while she was alive.

Zena’s sis­ter Koulla Kak­oulli of Lone­some No More also saw Bon in the last hours of his life: “[Bon] had so much to live for. Yes, he did come to our gig. If I re­mem­ber right he was found in his car the next morn­ing. Alis­tair was with him most of the night.”

So you knew Alis­tair? Were they drink­ing, do­ing drugs?

“I don’t think I should say. All I can say is Alis­tair was heav­ily into heroin at the time of Bon’s death. I know [Bon] was dead in the car out­side.”

Heav­ily. An in­di­vid­ual who was at The Mu­sic Machine that night and per­formed on stage doesn’t want to be quoted pub­licly but drops an­other bomb­shell: “Bon had a lot to drink that night. And I would be very sur­prised if he too

[like Alis­tair] didn’t take a lot of drugs that evening, mainly heroin. I don’t wanna up­set any­body this late in the game. End of the day it was a tragic ac­ci­dent. But [speak­ing] as an ex-junkie, Bon looked stoned.”

To be clear, the in­fer­ence be­ing made isn’t to get­ting high on mar­i­juana. The in­fer­ence is to heroin.

“I know how dev­as­tated Alis­tair was, and how it af­fected him for years af­ter­wards.”

Zena Kak­oulli

Bon Scott was not just a great singer, he

was also a great, charis­matic front­man.

“Bon was sober… I can­not re­mem­ber Bon be­ing drunk enough to

kill him­self in a car.”

Colin Burgess, about the night Bon died

Bon and UFO’s Pete Way Bon be­came

good friends.

Shoul­der­ing the task to­gether: on stage Bon and An­gus were a for­mi­da­ble duo.

Good as he was in front of a stu­dio mic, it was in front of an au­di­ence that Bon was in his el­e­ment.

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