Bon Scott pictured with two very excited female fans while arriving at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, November 27, 1976. Around this time rumors were circulating about young female fans of AC/DC giving each other home tattoos around Melbourne trying to look like Bon (Scott had at least six tattoos).
If you think you know the story behind AC/DC‘s riffy homage to a certain big, bad girl “Whole Lotta Rosie,” you might want to hold on as the author of Bon: The Last Highway Jesse Fink goes into even more detail regarding the actual identity of Rosie, with a little help. On The Last Highway blog, Fink discusses the many mythological tales about Rosie, including accounts from brothers Angus and Malcolm, three journalists and respected rock historians, Sylvie Simmons, Phil Sutcliffe (also known as Mike Stand), Mary Renshaw, and Scott himself. Let’s dig into the gritty details of this late-70s backstage, no-tell-motel sleaze, shall we?
In support of Angus Young’s claim of Scott’s preference for dangerously curvy women, both Angus and Simmons recall a regular groupie duo of Bon’s; Angus called them the “Jumbo Twins” and Simmons—who spent a lot of time with the band during the Bon era, referred to them as the “Jumbo Jets.” Another of Angus’ memories of Scott running into Rosie was when the band was in town to play a show in Tasmania in 1976. Angus says after the show the band took to the streets looking to keep the good times rolling when Bon was approached by a woman in a dark doorway—a very large woman which Angus estimated to have the following famous measurements; 42-39-56. Scott happily entered the room and joined the woman and her friend for the night.
A vintage ad for AC/DC’s 1977 live album, ‘Let There Be Rock’ using 34 unique words to describe the band.
Sutcliffe’s version is slightly different than both Angus’ and Simmons’. Sutcliffe says things went down in the dressing room of Malcolm Young after a show August of 1976. Malcolm and Bon had hooked up with two girls, one of them they nicknamed “Big Bertha,” yet another interlude with a roomy woman many would come to believe was Rosie. Bon said this Bertha/Rosie would have “broken his arm” if he had refused her advances, so he complied. In a 2003 interview, Malcolm told the story, calling the woman “Big Rosie.” Now, let’s get to the story of Rosie told by the late Bon Scott (as noted by Fink on his blog) which is taken from an audio track included on the 1997 box set Bonfire named after Bon’s promise to call his first solo record by the same name. Scott recalls things went down with Rosie (on more than one occasion it seems) at her place where he and the band would often party just across from the Freeway Gardens hotel in North Melbourne. On Bonfire Bon gives us the low-down on getting down with Rosie:
“We were all staying in the same hotel and this chick Rosie lived across the road. She was so big she sort of closed the door and put it on ya’, half your body, and she was too big to say no to. Then she used to look up and see what band was in town and say “hi over there boys” and we’d go over and have a party. She came to one of our shows, she was from Tasmania actually, and she was in the front row. She was like 6’2 and like 19 stone 12 pounds (around 266lbs). That girl was some mountain. So you can imagine the problems I had. So I just sorta had to succumb … I had to do it. Oh my God, I wish I hadn’t.”
Yeah, the old “taking one for the team” isn’t fooling anyone, Bon. We know you liked big butts and we love you for it. Corroborating Bon’s arm-twisting sexy-times story are both AC/DC roadie, Pat Pickett (Pickett has been quoted as saying he was responsible for an “orgy” involving Rosie, Scott, and others and also knew Rosie personally), and author of the 2015 book on AC/DC, Live Wire, Mary Renshaw. Attempts have been made to find Rosie but have never turned up even so much as a concrete lead though there seems to to be no lack of people claiming to know the real Rosie or to have seen the elusive, show-stealing woman.
If you’ve ever seen AC/DC live, you’ve maybe seen the gigantic, inflated Rosie prop used by the band when they kick into “Whole Lotta Rosie” with her bright blonde hair and red lingerie. I’ve also seen a cool vintage embroidered patch of Rosie in all her glory, but never a photo of anyone with Bon (or other members of AC/DC) who looked even remotely like the girl described in the song. Does this mean Rosie was conjured up through the collective memories of Angus Young and others due to Bon’s interludes with various lusty, bodacious women? Let’s me put it to you this way; Bon Scott said Rosie was real. His version is gospel. Period. The End.
Footage of AC/DC from 1979 during a live gig in Paris ripping “Whole Lotta Rosie” apart follows. It includes an appearance by a very talented AC/DC roadie.
An embroidered patch of Rosie from the early 90’s.