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Credit: Elfast

Music

Listen to the isolated vocals of Bon Scott on AC/DC song 'Highway to Hell'

@TylerGolsen

Bon Scott was everything that a singer shouldn’t be. He was haphazard with his pitch, wavering in and out of key without much care as to where his notes landed. He rarely ever sang sober. He had no technical knowledge, almost no falsetto, and probably couldn’t sing a scale if his life depended on it. But with AC/DC, he was absolutely perfect.

The surly and swaggering Scott had a yelp that was almost inhuman. Like some mad dog unleashing a frantic howl at the moon, Scott let loose every time he stepped up to a mic. AC/DC didn’t have ballads, love songs, or anything that required Scott to be a crooner, a melodicist, or even much of a singer. He needed to shout, project sex and debauchery, and commune with his audience. And he did it, night after night, in spades.

Just because it wasn’t always at the forefront of his mind doesn’t mean that Scott couldn’t write melodies. In fact, he was responsible for some of AC/DC’s catchiest choruses, including ‘TNT’ and ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’. But when it came to combining all of his talents in a three-minute song, Scott was never better than on ‘Highway to Hell’.

Only half lucid and half intelligible, Scott nevertheless imbues the song with real might and power. Those high notes are impossible to hit, and that throat-shredding squeal is impossible to replicate. It’s a delicate balance of natural talent, charisma, and liquor that made Scott such a formidable vocalist.

Unfortunately, it was that same combination that eventually led to his early death in 1980. How AC/DC ever thought they could soldier on without the unmatched might of Bon Scott is anyone’s guess, but they found a more-than suitable singer in the same ball-squeezing vein: Brian Johnson. But whereas Johnson clearly had to sweat and strain to match those same levels, Scott made it seem almost effortless. He was a singular voice and one that elevated hard rock to another level.

Check out Bon Scott’s isolated vocals on ‘Highway to Hell’ down below.