CHARLIE STARR is the lead singer and guitarist of what I regard as the greatest Southern rock/country rock band playing today, Blackberry Smoke. They've recorded with AC/DC production alumni Mike Fraser and Brendan O'Brien and a lot of their harder edge songs have a distinctly AC/DC feel. They've covered 'Highway To Hell' on stage. He's a big Bon fan.
Bon's songs make up so much of the setlist AC/DC (what’s left of it) still performs. What do you think is special about Bon's songs?
They are special simply because they were so damn good. Bon was a gifted lyricist and composer of melodies. Just a natural, apparently. No one could turn a phrase like Bon at that time. Just genius use of double entendre and innuendo. Completely witty and confident.
What do you think Bon represents to you and other fans of AC/DC? A rock legend who lived for the day or a guy who even 37 years on from his death is still a bit of a mystery? Or something else? What spirit does he embody to you?
I’ve always been fascinated with Bon. His voice, songwriting, prowess as a frontman… the whole thing. Obviously, dying young can seem to deify most rock stars, but that’s not really the case with Bon. He didn’t carry himself like a complicated, tortured genius, but a fireball powerhouse who lived life to the hilt. People like him are the most influential to rock and roll musicians because he was frighteningly real.
Bon was a major Southern rock fan. What attracted you to Southern rock? The music itself, the people, the heritage, the rebel spirit? All of it?
The music and the freedom that those bands took advantage of. Funny that a single genre could contain elements of so many other genres. All the other stuff was cool, but it became ‘cartoonish’ after a while.
‘Bon didn’t carry himself like a complicated, tortured genius, but a fireball powerhouse who lived life to the hilt. People like him are the most influential to rock and roll musicians because he was frighteningly real.'
– Charlie Starr
What's special about the Southern rock of the 1970s and is it something you try to carry over in spirit and tone in your own music?
Those were just great bands who wrote great songs that will live forever. We really just aspire to do the same thing. I think we are lucky to enjoy a bit of the musical freedom they did.
BON: THE LAST HIGHWAY: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BON SCOTT AND AC/DC'S BACK IN BLACK is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and hundreds of other retailers around the world. Blackberry Smoke's new album, FIND A LIGHT, is out now.
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.