Any AC/DC fan will know the pictures. A series of photographs from 1975 showing Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Phil Rudd and... er... some tall blond guy that looks like the Australian actor who plays Thor, Chris Hemsworth.
He was far too handsome for AC/DC and far too tall, but Paul Matters was AC/DC's bass player before Mark Evans and toured with the band promoting the High Voltage album in the early months of 1975.
Then, abruptly, he was no longer the bass player and Evans was drafted in as his replacement, lasting until he too was sacked from the band two years later. Cliff Williams then joined the band and lasted until his retirement in 2016.
And that, pretty much, was the last anyone saw or heard of Matters publicly. That is... until this book.
I was fortunate enough to track down Matters – I wrote him an old-fashioned letter and posted it; he's not on social media and doesn't use email – and he granted me his first ever interview about AC/DC in over 40 years; if not his first interview about AC/DC, period.
In Bon: The Last Highway he finally puts to bed all the rumours about his departure from a band that would go on to become arguably the most popular in the world, talks about his relationship with Bon and the Youngs (‘Angus was a bit of a smart Alec,’ he told me), and opens up about his own battles with life after AC/DC.
Before joining AC/DC, Matters played in a Newcastle (NSW) four-piece called Armageddon. It formed in 1968 but Matters left in 1974 because of what Armageddon drummer Les Gully describes as ‘musical differences’.
In his 2012 book AC/DC: Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be, British writer Mick Wall says Matters lasted all of 11 gigs and offers a curious explanation for why.
‘They [AC/DC] took against his easygoing charm and tendency to remind one and all that he had, of course, already been there and done that in Armaggedon. For Malcolm, it was Dave Evans all over again.’
The actual truth, as Matters reveals in my book, was far different.
Says Gully: ‘As far as Paul's sacking, I would suspect that he was removed because he didn’t fit the values of the Young oligarchy. Too pretty, for a start. He didn’t really fit, had strong opinions and sensitivity, and played just what he liked.’
‘I heard Bon was up for sacking in the year preceding his death.'
– Les Gully, Armageddon
Being fired by AC/DC cut Matters deeply, according to Gully.
‘He had been booted from the two greatest bands, opportunities, of his lifetime.’
And the rest, as they say, is history. Still, as I was to learn, Matters, now a recluse, relives that painful event every day.
‘I heard Bon was up for sacking in the year preceding his death,’ adds Gully. ‘A rockstar’s death, by misadventure, is a much better marketing ploy though.’
BON: THE LAST HIGHWAY: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BON SCOTT AND AC/DC'S BACK IN BLACK is available to preorder now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and hundreds of other retailers. Just click the title above (in red) to preorder and save on the retail price. You can read more about the history of Armageddon at Les Gully's website, including an anecdote about Bon here.
Jesse Fink is the author of Bon: The Last Highway: The Untold Story of Bon Scott and AC/DC's Back In Black, which is available now. For more information about the book, click HERE or click the book covers below to be directed to editions in your preferred territory and language.