"We just wanted to show the great human being that he really was."
The figure of Bon Scott looms large over the Australian music landscape, primarily for the last half-dozen years of his life he spent as wild-eyed frontman of the world's most powerful rock band, AC/DC. Yet Scott had already lived a fascinating life before joining that powerhouse in 1974, and new tome Live Wire examines the period in late-'60s Melbourne when he was co-frontman of bubblegum sensations The Valentines. Told concurrently by three people with exclusive access to Scott's inner sanctum - Mary Renshaw (the soul mate), John D'Arcy (the roadie) and Gabby D'Arcy (the fan) - Live Wire shines a fascinating light on not just Bon Scott the person, but also the intriguing early evolution of Australia's music scene.
"The Valentines story is really a fascinating story anyway, incorporating the Melbourne scene, music in general at the time and fashion - everything was really new," recalls Renshaw, at the time a teenage fashion designer. "For those boys coming from Perth and living in the big city of Melbourne - in St Kilda too, which was a really sleazy part of town - it was fun, it was really good fun in those early days.
"He was more than that mad rock'n'roll guy who drank every day of his life and did nothing, a perception which really pisses me off."
"I'd only gone to see one of their afternoon gigs once when I met them - and made friends with Bon on that day - so it was like being a fan and a friend at the same time. You'd just go and see their gigs, hang around the house and have parties there, it was a really fun and informal time."
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
Despite tales of rampant hedonism, Live Wire also portrays an innocent time when a love of music and lifestyle trumped financial reward.
"Absolutely," Renshaw concurs. "Afternoon venues meant that school kids could see live music in the afternoons, or if you weren't allowed out late at night you could still go into the city and watch amazing music, not just The Valentines and Zoot but Lobby Loyde in The La De Das or The Purple Hearts with Mick Hadley - they were amazing. There was all this really fabulous music around, and I remember coming into this incredible scene and just loving it. We finally had our own thing and our bands - the Australian scene and the Melbourne scene."
Renshaw never saw Scott's massive rise to fame coming at the time, and she believes it's imperative to show the real man behind the myth.
"There's been so many different innuendos about him and so much stuff written by people who didn't know him but have spoken to so and so who knew so and so — we just wanted to show the great human being that he really was," she tells. "He wasn't a saint - he's still Bon Scott and could be wild - but like all of us he had another side, and we really wanted to show his soul and the depth of the man. I just really wanted it to be seen that he was more than that mad rock'n'roll guy who drank every day of his life and did nothing, a perception which really pisses me off. He was so much more than that."