Bon Scott Reveals Phil Rudd Breakdown on AC/DC Tour in 1978 Letter
A letter written by late-AC/DC singer Bon Scott is going on the auction block. The hand-written note addressed to his sister Valerie sheds insight on the late '70s rock scene and details drummer Phil Rudd’s breakdown while on the Powerage Tour in 1978, as well as Scott's own struggles on the road.
In the letter written on Hilton stationary and ripe with spelling mistakes, Scott claims that Rudd had a “nervous breakdown and had to spend a lot of time with a shrink.” He adds, “it was really bad” but “luckily he got over it quickly enough not to upset the band.” The late singer also notes that he recently saw a friend named Doug, perform in Long Beach, Calif. and how he considered asking him if he would fill in for Rudd, but it never came to pass.
In the note, which is on the block via Nate D. Sanders Auctions, Scott apologizes for not writing his sister saying he is “pretty slack when it comes to letters and phone calls” and that he’s “always traveling or drunk or hungover.” He adds he’s shaking so much he can “hardly write.” He continued, “I’m beginning to look just a little haggard. I'd love to check myself in to a sanitarium for a month but after this tour [but] it's straight to Europe & England for a month & then back here for the winter-end of the year so the next time you see me it might be in a geriatric ward. My hair looks like a busby but I'm just going to let it go on growing & be a hippy again for a while.”
He also shares info about AC/DC’s 1978 live album If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It, writing, “I had to re-record about five concerts cause the vocals were not as good sound wise as they had to be from all the microphone spill from the guitars and things.” Read the entire letter below.
Hi Valerie, Well as you can see Bon's in Down Town Pitsburgh [sic] today. I've just come over from the west coast where I spent a couple of days in L.A. doing Midnight Special. I went to see Doug's new band the other night playing a place called La Cantino El Paso which is down Long Beach & boy he had me in stitches. He's playing really well & singing like a bird. Don't know if he told you but I rang him a few weeks ago to see if he would fill in for Phillip for a while as Phil had a bit of a nervous breakdown & had to spend a lot of time with a shrink. It was really bad but luckily he got over it quickly enough not to upset the band. We had to treat him with kid gloves for a bit but he's ok now. It's a pity, but I won't be down your way for at least two or three months. The rest of this stage of the tour is around Pensylvania [sic] & N.Y. state but being out of sight don't mean out of mind. I know I'm pretty slack when it comes to letters & phone calls but I'm always travelling or drunk or hungover or...or...today I'm shaking so much I can hardly write but I have been meaning to write you for weeks so today I'm doing it. I had to stop making phone calls when I got too much in the red with the money situation. I'm already about $130 into this weeks wages but about two weeks ago I owed the band about $70 on pay day & that's crazy. But being crazy is about the only way to keep my sanity if you know what I mean. We've worked so much since I saw you last that it's all one hell of a blur. Must have been across the country & up & down it a million times & I'm beggining [sic] to feel & look just a little haggard. I'd love to check myself in to a sanitarium for a month but after this tour it's straight to Europe & England for a month & then back here for the winter-end of the year so the next time you see me it might be in a geriatric ward. My hair looks like a busby but I'm just going to let it go on growing & be a hippy again for a while. I know I'm making it sound that life's hard at the moment but I'm not complaining cause there's always good times & we're selling lots of records & making people happy so it can't be all that bad. I'm going to go home to Mums at the end of the year & spend a month on the beach before tearing into it all again. Oh we finished our live album a few weeks ago in New York. I had to re-record about five concerts cause the vocals were not as good sound wise as the[y] had to be from all the michrophone [sic] spill from the guitars & things. I was allright (ahem) it sounds great & it'll look good hanging on the Xmas trees. I don't know when it'll be out but I'll try & get you a special copy. They might put some out in red vinyl although I prefer them in platinum myself. Gotta go baby. I just got the half hour call & I have to phone New York. I'd love to hear from you before I leave the States. Say hi to the family for me...& how was Mum...Tell her hello from The Bon. / Love you Valerie / Bon X.
Bon Scott passed away in Feb. 1980, just about two years after the letter was written. Meanwhile, Phil Rudd has had many legal entanglements over the years including being charged with attempting to procure a murder in 2014 and possession of meth and cannabis. He was booted from the band following his arrest, but was recently spotted with Bon Scott’s replacement Brian Johnson outside the same Vancouver recording studio where AC/DC recorded their last three albums. Johnson left the group in the middle of their last tour cycle after suffering hearing issues and was famously temporarily replaced by Axl Rose.
There is a current minimum bid of $6,500 for the letter. The auction ends this Thursday, Jan. 31, at 8PM ET / 5PM PT. For additional details, head here.
66 Best Hard Rock + Metal Frontmen of All-Time