I met Bon in early 1971, when I was playing keyboards in a band called Headband, and we were managed by the same person who managed the band Fraternity, a Mr. Hamish Henry.
So originally, before we had heard each other play any music, Hamish had employed me to run his Art Gallery in Molesworth Street, North Adelaide, while simultaneously taking phone calls to co-ordinate the running of both bands. One day he introduced me to the new singer for Fraternity, who had just come over from interstate.
His name was Bon Scott, and Hamish also employed him to do odd jobs around the house, such as mowing the lawn, cleaning up the yard, digging the garden etc. Neither band was making much money to start with, and we needed a bit of extra work to stay alive. But both Bon and I agreed, even then, that we would only do manual work, so as to stay fit, and make sure we never gave our heart and souls to a day job and were always ready to give it up if we got offered any excuse to play rock n roll instead. In our work breaks, we would often sit around in the gallery, and play a couple of old nylon string guitars, and I would teach him a few chords and a bit of music theory, because he was basically a singer, and didn’t know much about the practicalities of music. In this way we started a friendship that lasted until the end of his life.
So now we jump forward to 1974, and both Headband and Fraternity had both had minor success, but eventually broken up, and returned home.
To keep up the music playing, I had formed a part-time band which often incorporated many of the members of both Fraternity AND Headband and called it “The Mount Lofty Rangers”. The idea behind it being that we would just play fairly simple country-rock type of music, and ONLY do the original songs of the members of the band that night. And also, that it would never be the same band twice. And that we would just pick out the best of the musicians that needed a job that night. Vince Lovegrove was running a booking agency called Jovan, and he would get us work all over the place, and often at country venues. And because Vince and Bon used to sing together in the Valentines, he would also often end up on stage with us too. Vytas Serelis was also a close friend, and did all the posters, photographs and publicity visuals for us. But, we never made much money out of it, it was mainly a labour of love, and often we’d have to resort to doing a day job for a little while to survive. So, one night I was home with my wife and kids in North Adelaide, when there was a knock on the door, and it was Bon, with a bottle of Jack Daniels, looking very tired, but with a familiar glint in his eye. He explained that he had just finished a 12 hour stint of shovelling bags of shit all day for the Wallaroo Fertiliser Co., and that while he had been labouring, he had written the words of two completely different songs in his head which he thought would be perfect for the Mount Lofty Rangers to do, but he needed my help to work out the music, and arrangements. He was still a bit smelly from his day’s work, so we got him to have a shower, my wife Mouse made him some food, and then we sat around with piano and guitar to see what we could come up with. After drinking the bottle of Jack dry, and smoking a few doobies, we finished about midnight, and two more songs were added to the Ranger’s repertoire. One was a beautiful ballad called “Clarissa”, about a girl he had met in the country, and the other was a very funny fast and furious lament about living in the country and not getting any -it was called “I’ve been up in the hills too long”.
We played both these songs every time we worked with the Mt. Lofty Rangers after that, and they always brought the house down. Unfortunately, they never got recorded, but there would be people all over Adelaide who might have a cassette of a rehearsal somewhere, but we haven’t found them yet. So, if you want to hear the songs, you will have to put up with my versions of them recorded years later, and just believe me when I tell you Bon sang them much better.