Kix from Hagerstown, Maryland, are a band that is rightly spoken of as one of a select few that distilled the AC/DC brand of rock without making the fatal mistake of indulging in pastiche. Their lead guitarist was Brian Forsythe, who now plays in the excellent California-based Rhino Bucket. He saw Bon live on two occasions – including the much-bootlegged Towson concert in Maryland, 1979 – and credits AC/DC for giving Kix inspiration and musical direction.
‘I had the pleasure of seeing Bon Scott twice live,’ he says. ‘The first time was at the Capital Center [in Largo] near Washington, D.C. – the If You Want Blood tour. However, I missed their entire set except for the last song and encore. They were opening for UFO but in my mind they were the bigger deal so I assumed they were headlining with UFO opening and got there late. I was really bummed about that.
‘The second time was at Towson State College in Baltimore around October 1979 right after Highway To Hell came out. Bon was on that night! Before Kix had a record deal we had to play covers in addition to our originals in the clubs. I feel we were partly responsible for making AC/DC so well known in our area. No one knew who they were when we started covering their songs. Everyone thought they were our songs.
‘We found our sound through AC/DC. When we discovered them everything seemed to fall into place musically. It got to the point, right before we got signed [to Atlantic Records], to where we were doing three sets a night, one set of AC/DC, one set of Zeppelin and one set originals. “Riff Raff” was a great opener! I think at one point we were doing the entire Let There Be Rock album. Unfortunately I didn't get to meet them until after Bon died.’
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. Rhino Bucket’s new album is The Last Real Rock N’ Roll.
Just months before Bon passed away in February 1980, AC/DC headlined Judas Priest on more than two dozen European dates on their Highway To Hell tour, starting in Brussels, Belgium, in early November 1979 and running through to Nice, France, in mid December that year.
K.K. Downing, Judas Priest's legendary guitarist from 1970–2011, remembers a different, little-known side of the hard-drinking, womanising rock 'n' roller that was the public Bon Scott: the Bon who was very, very attentive to his appearance.
‘Bon always presented himself as a gentleman,' he says. ‘He was always immaculate with his appearance. Even very early in the morning, to me he came across as a true professional and an ideal role model for any upcoming band.
‘All of the band treated us extremely well. I have nothing but very fond memories and appreciation to all members of AC/DC for making the tour as easy and as pleasurable as it was for us.'
Judas Priest enjoyed their breakthrough in the States with the 1982 album Screaming For Vengeance. As for any insights on whether Bon's lyrics ended up on AC/DC's biggest album, 1980's Back In Black, Downing plays a straight bat.
‘I am not able to comment as I am not familiar with that part of the band's history.'
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. Check out K.K.'s official website at kkdowning.net.
Jesse Fink is the author of Bon: The Last Highway: The Untold Story of Bon Scott and AC/DC's Back In Black and The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC. For more information about Bon, click HERE or click the book covers below to be directed to editions in your preferred territory and language.