who is Joe Fury?
Joe Fury operated – or at least was known by or has been referred to – under various aliases: Joe King, Joe Silver, Joe Furey and more. In written correspondence with me, Silver Smith frequently referred to him as ‘Jou’. Just like Alistair Kinnear, the reclusive even apocryphal Joe has become a sort of bogeyman in the Bon Scott story. In three years of writing Bon, information about him was very hard to come by. I could only gather that on his return to Australia from living abroad in the early 1980s, Joe played bass in various bands and later gigged regularly with a band in Sydney called Rough Justice. He got married, moved on and fell off the radar. No one I spoke to who knew Joe or “Joey” could remember his real last name – or wanted to tell me.
Then, in September 2016, I had a breakthrough and finally made contact with Joe. Today he runs a garage business in New South Wales, but in the late 70s and early 80s he was a backstage fixture in the international live-music scene, working as a roadie for UFO, Wild Horses and even Little River Band.
Of Italian heritage, his real name is Joe Furi. He told me his “original family background was not terribly enjoyable”, which was partly why he changed his name to Fury.
Joe said he never read Clinton Walker’s book nor Geoff Barton’s Classic Rock article containing the allegations made about him by Paul Chapman. He wasn’t impressed: “It’s the greatest amount of drivel and crap I’ve ever read… I don’t know where [Barton] is now, but if he’d said that [to me] at the time he would have got a smack in the fucking head.”
He wasn’t even aware suggestions had been made that he was Alistair Kinnear. He knew nothing of Alistair’s 2005 statement to the press. Astonishingly, he was totally oblivious to the fact that Alistair was dead.
As Joe put it drily, he’d been occupied with “other things than following late 70s rock’n’roll”.
Bon and Joe had become friends back in Sydney in early 1978. When soon afterwards Bon and Silver broke up/took a 12-month break from each other, she and Joe travelled overland through Asia.
Bon, says Joe, “didn’t really want her heading off on her own”, so Joe accompanied Silver with his friend’s blessing. Bon even paid for Joe’s ticket.
It was during this trip that Joe and Silver would become intimately involved. On arriving in London, they worked together at the Tudor Rose, a pub in Richmond, and shared a single-room flat nearby, where Bon visited them. Yet Silver denied that she was in a relationship with Joe when Bon died.
“People quite reasonably kind of assume that [Joe and I] were [in a relationship]. We were just incredibly alike. Like twins… we just really hit it off; we had a lot of interests in common as well, quite esoteric stuff.”
But Joe tells a different story. He says he and Silver had formed “an unusual relationship” where they’d “merged into a bit of an entity”. Bon well knew what was going on between them yet didn’t feel threatened by it because, as Joe puts it, the affair was nothing more “than me sort of treading water with her until Bon finished up with AC/DC”. He presented “no challenge to Bon and Silver being the couple”.
“Friends of mine said, ‘What the fuck are you doing, you’re going to get killed. You’re screwing AC/DC’s lead singer’s fucking girlfriend. How long do you expect to live [laughs]?’ Looking back on it a couple of years later [after his death], I thought, ‘Jeez, I’m surprised he didn’t fucking hit me over the head with a baseball bat’ [laughs].”
Silver, says Joe, was Bon’s true soulmate, the woman with whom he might have returned to Australia to settle down.
“If you saw the two [of them] together, they were like an old couple even back then when they weren’t very old. Bon almost had the slippers and the pipe out and she’d be making him a cup of tea. It was that sort of relationship. It had none of that rock hysteria, fucking fame, showbiz [element to it], anything at all. Bon could have been out mowing the lawn and fixing things in the shed and she would have been saying, ‘The scones are ready.’”
As for a long-standing rumour that Malcolm Young had Joe beaten up after
Bon’s death, for reasons unknown, it never happened. In fact, neither Joe nor Silver would ever cross paths with AC/DC again.
“It wasn’t Joe that was the problem between me and Bon,” deadpanned Silver. So Bon’s problem essentially was Bon? “Yeah,”’ she replied with a raspy laugh.