Whether you’re a Valentines fan or AC/DC are the true-blue Aussie deal for you, you’ll probably be interested in having a gander at the State Library of Western Australia’s newest acquisition. Trumpeted via a media release from State Minister for Culture and the Arts, David Templeman last week, the Library’s purchase at auction of a letter penned by Bon Scott in August 1978 was widely reported in the media.
In the wake of all the hullabaloo, Around The Sound spoke to the State Library’s local music expert, Dr Adam Trainer, to get the inside running.
“Our acquisitions are quite varied,” said Trainer. “There are circumstances where, from time to time, we will become aware of an auction of particular items. It was determined that this letter was of such significance because it captured a moment in the life of a Western Australian who has popularity and success beyond the state and with broader national and international repute. Given the significance of the individual that was involved, it was determined that anything related to their personal life that we can acquire is certainly within our collecting remit. Given the stature of this particular person the letter was certainly worth us acquiring.”
The contents of the letter show a personal side to Bon Scott, then part of an already successful touring band on the cusp of international superstardom, that paints a different picture of life on the road and the trappings of success, or otherwise. It’s a purchase well worth every cent of the $14,000 paid and it’s good to see that the State government’s collections policy means that this important part of our social history will remain within WA’s borders permanently.
Except when it, maybe, gets sent on tour.
The letter is currently on display at the State Library for three weeks only, and is creating quite a bit of demand, as eager punters drop in to get a first-hand view of Bon’s penmanship. State Library staff have been fielding dozens of inquiries about the letter each day, with even more making the pilgrimage to the library to get up close and personal.
On the limited display period, Trainer said, “Because of the fragile nature of the item, we have a conservation team that will take a look at the item and determine how it should be displayed and how long for. The lighting conditions in the space where it’s being displayed determine how long it can be on public display. That timing has been determined to allow the public to come in and have a look at it. Then it will be retained as part of our permanent collection. It may go on display again, or even on tour should suitable opportunity come up.”
That all makes sense, but it’s just so rock and roll that, for an artist whose stock in trade was one-night stands, even this posthumous display is for a limited time only. Better get on down there before it’s locked in the vault again.
And, for those readers who are musos with one eye on their future legacy, keep hold of your output, who knows where it might end up one day.
You can find the State Library at 25 Francis St, Perth WA 6000, and get more information on their website: http://www.slwa.wa.gov.au/.