You might be surprised to find a statue of Bon Scott, AC/DC’s iconic lead singer, in this small town in Scotland. But the rock star was born in Kirriemuir and spent the first few years of his life there.
Born on July 9th 1946, Ronald Belford “Bon” Scott lived in Kirriemuir until he was six years old. His father, Charles, worked in the family bakery and was a member of the local pipe band. Scott’s family emigrated to Australia in 1952, settling in Fremantle, just outside of Perth. It was there that Bon started to pursue his interest in music, joining the local Scots pipe band. It was also at this point that he earned the nickname “Bonny” Scott from schoolmates, which he would later shorten to “Bon.”
After leaving school at 15, Scott spent a number of years drifting through casual jobs and various bands. His luck radically changed in 1974 when he was asked to join AC/DC by the Glasgow-born Young brothers, Malcolm and Angus. Over the next six years Bon became an international rock star, fronting the band for seminal releases such as “Let There Be Rock” and “Highway to Hell.”
But success came at a heavy price. The near-constant touring and recording fueled Scott’s already renowned hard-drinking habits to dangerous levels. Tragically, on the morning of Feb 19th 1980, 33-year-old Bon was found dead, slumped in the back seat of a friend’s car in London. While out partying the night before, Scott had become extremely drunk and was fatefully left in the car to sleep it off.
But Scott’s memory remains alive and well in Kirriemuir. An annual music festival, appropriately named BonFest, pays tribute to his musical legacy. Bands from around the world converge on the town to play AC/DC covers and pay homage to their hero.
Out of the festival arose the idea of a more permanent memorial. Artist John McKenna was contacted to create a statue of Bon. The life-sized bronze figure was unveiled in 2016, at the 10th anniversary of BonFest by former AC/DC bass player Mark Evans. The £45,000 cost of the sculpture was paid for by a crowdfunding campaign. Two scrolls containing the names of all who donated money are sealed at the bottom of the statue.
Now Bon Scott watches over all who enter Kirriemuir, with a microphone in one hand and bagpipes in the other
Know Before You Go
The statue is on the Bellies Brae road into Kirriemuir. There is a car park just off the road and next to the statue.
Bonfest usually takes place over a three day period, during the Early Spring Bank Holiday in Scotland. Check the website for current information and updates.