KEN SCHAFFER, inventor of the Schaffer-Vega Diversity System (SVDS), an ingenious wireless transmitter first used by Angus Young in concert at The Palladium in New York on 24 August 1977, got to hang out with Bon Scott on four or five occasions in three cities. Bon even used a microphone version of Schaffer's wireless technology.
Bon was a prodigious drinker, obviously?
‘Ee-er, yeah,' he told me. ‘Well, I mean, I’ve heard conjecture that [Bon’s cause of death] was drinking or that it was something else.’
Can you elaborate?
‘You know, blah blah blah. I have no first-hand knowledge of it.’
When AC/DC came calling that year, Schaffer's SVDS had already been used by Peter Gabriel, ELO, Kiss, Mahogany Rush, Peter Frampton and Rick Derringer, among countless others. For the full story about Schaffer, read my profile of him at Medium.
Worth crowing about, and Schaffer's company, The Ken Schaffer Group, duly took out ads in Billboard boasting of its impressive clients. Here's one (below) from 13 August 1977. The ads ran for months.
So Angus's account that he knew nothing about Schaffer (pictured together below) when they first met, that, in his own words, he ‘was a bit wary’ when introduced to Schaffer and his invention, appears to be rather suspect, like so many stories in AC/DC lore.
‘I've heard conjecture that [Bon's cause of death] was drinking or that it was something else.'
– Ken Schaffer
Angus told an interviewer for AC/DC’s Family Jewels DVD set: ‘When we first got to America, we were playing in this gig in New York… and Mal [Young] said to me some guy had come and I was doing something, either interviews or something, and they had gone down and checked out the sound and stuff and Mal said, “There’s a guy got this transmitter thing and he’s got [it] down there and it sounds great.”’
Schaffer told me he even personally delivered an SVDS unit to Angus in Glasgow in 1978 and ‘I went to a bar with Bon and Malcolm… somehow I remember Angus being there too. I’m not a big drinker but I can do a single malt. One shot of whiskey and I woke up in my bed at the hotel. I had no idea how I got there. Apparently the guys carried me, whatever the fuck [laughs]. That’s the last I remember of that trip… as far as I know, Bon and Malcolm got me back to the hotel.’
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, 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.