FORMER radio DJ Colin Nichol has tracked down an interview by colleague and current Curtin Radio DJ and musicologist Alan Mannings with Bon Scott’s early bandmate, Vince Lovegrove. This historic recording dates from 1987. Colin has transcribed some excerpts.
GETTING history into perspective, the earliest recordings of Bon Scott were from a Club 7 Teen TV show in 1965 and only given limited release on CD in 1999.
They were the last of a wrap-up of archives of Perth’s Clarion record label and date to his brief spell with the Spektors, before his time with the Valentines, Fraternity and ultimately AC/DC. For the record, the titles were: Gloria, On My Mind and Yesterday.
The real launch of Bon Scott was with the Valentines. He and Vince Lovegrove were in different bands and competitors.
It was the end of the instrumental surfing era when the band would do a set of instrumentals then the audience would go out for a break and the singers would take over to fill between sets. Scott was with the Spektors and Lovegrove with the Winstons.
At that beginning stage, Scott was drummer and John Collins the singer but Scott had ambitions as a frontman and at times took a turn at the mic.
“Bon always wanted to be out front,” Lovegrove recalled. The two bands were rivals at the top at the time and around mid-1966 the pair decided to bury the hatchet and form one group: The Valentines.
In those days, bands played at the pubs and clubs like Top Hat which insisted on only top 40 material.
There weren’t many bands playing “alternative” sets like the Valentines and they worked mainly teenage venues and surf clubs, most famous of which were the Swanbourne and Broadway.
“They were great, they had atmosphere and all sorts of bands played there, bands that played original songs,” Loverove recalled.
“The only other one I can think of that was original was the What the Heck Discotheque in the city somewhere, but that didn’t last long, like so many in those days.
The surf clubs were the most famous, they were up and down the coast. But one of the reasons we left was because one gig and 50 bucks a week split between us was not enough to make a living.”
The chance for the Valentines to record with Martin Clarke’s Clarion records came as a result of a connection through Johnny Young (Johnny Young and Kompany) who had the hit record Step Back with Clarion.
Lovegrove recalled it was “really a dream come true”. We recorded two songs; one was To Know You is to Love You and the other, an old Small Faces song called Which Way Do You Want to Go. We were very lucky to have a record to go over east with.”
Scott also recorded Every Day I Have to Cry, in April 1967 with the Valentines.
They first started as an R&B based pop band but were caught up in the current trend of bubblegum category of music which was a matter of contention for them. They wrote a lot of their songs themselves, but, “to get there”, did include some hits of the day. But mostly they, “went back a bit”, for soul and R&B based material which was their musical taste, Lovegrove recalled.
“Even when Led Zeppelin came along and influenced everyone in ‘68 I think it was, with Whole Lotta Love and the consequent album, we were still one of the first blues-based guitar electric bands that broke through. But unfortunately, we had success in a different vein in that we got caught up in the trend of the day, the competition of the day and all that stuff and it was all pretty euphoric for about 18 months, two years.
“We had kids screaming and on paper were making lots of money, had hit singles and everything, and when we finally decided we’d got caught up with it and lost our roots we decided to stop. We felt like it was a false image, which it was. We knew it was a false image, but it was very hard to break away from it.
“So, we decided to go away, revamp the band and rehearse a whole new set of songs which were going to be original and go in a whole new direction and that was the beginning of the end of the Valentines (1970) because, of course when we got down to the basics of it, we had five different musical tastes and started to spin off in different directions.
“My main regret was that we didn’t go to England, which was the place to go in those days, not America – we dearly wanted to go. We thought we were almost there a couple of times, but unfortunately we just ‘diversed’ within ourselves too much to stay together to do that. I wish we had stayed together just a little more.”