It's a debate that flares up from time to time. Does the infamous ‘I'm A Rebel' demo feature the vocals of Bon Scott? The song, written by Alex Young (aka George Alexander) was recorded as an eight-track demo by AC/DC during a tour furlough in Hamburg, Germany, in 1976 and has remained unreleased to this day.
So I asked STEFAN KAUFMANN, drummer of Accept from 1979 to 1994, to clear things up. His band recorded ‘I'm A Rebel' for their second studio album of the same name at Delta-Studio in Wilster, Germany, in 1979 after being offered it by Musikverlage Oktave, a subsidiary of Alex's music publisher, Alfred Schacht.
Alex, the brother of George, Malcolm and Angus, died in Germany in 1997. His cousin, Stevie Young, told me in 2013 that he was ‘very talented; all the brothers thought so’.
The demo of ‘I'm A Rebel' that periodically pops up on YouTube (and periodically gets taken down) sounds very much like Bon Scott was doing backing vocals on it (I'm certainly convinced it's him), with Alex Young, brother of George, Angus and Malcolm, doing lead vocals. Fans can't seem to agree whether it is Bon on the record or not. Do you know about this demo and the story behind it? Do you know how that track came into being? It was recorded during a break for AC/DC in Hamburg in 1976, but your band recorded the track in 1979.
As much as I remember, Accept had a meeting with the brothers Schunke (the owners of the recording studio in Wilster, Germany, in which we recorded the first three albums) in 1979. During this meeting they played this demo version of ‘I'm A Rebel' to us. Bon Scott was definitely the [backing] singer on this demo. They wanted us to record the song for our second album, and they wanted it to become the single.
Accept's guitarist Wolf Hoffman told a metal website: ‘This George Alexander guy came in and coached us a little bit how he wanted it and we played it. In fact, we didn¹t really like the guy. I don't think he really cared. I don't think he liked us very much. We didn't like him pretty much. In those days we didn't know what he meant when he was talking about terms, legal terms. We were too green.' Is that accurate? Did the band have legal issues with using that song?
It's true that George Alexander [Alex Young] was in the studio during the recording session for a day or two to get an impression of our version of the song. We didn't have any real close contact with him. But I also don't know of any legal issues with him. But as much as I remember, it never stood in question that we would record the song and also release it.
‘Bon Scott was definitely the [backing] singer on this demo.'
– Stefan Kaufmann
I can't remember that he really ‘coached' us. We had Dirk Steffens as our producer and he more or less told us what to do. So I'm sure that he had close contact to George in order of how to record the song. What I definitely remember about AC/DC's version of the song is that it was much slower than we finally recorded it. But as I said, that decision was made by Dirk Steffens.
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.
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.