When Scott Mattocks launched Bonfire, the local AC/DC tribute band he fronts, there weren’t any AC/DC tribute bands around.
The band played its first gig in 1999 at the now-shuttered Peabody’s. One year later, AC/DC put out Stiff Upper Lip, and WMMS was hosting a big release party at the Hard Rock Café that used to be located in Tower City Center.
Bonfire was called into action.
“AC/DC was coming out with that new album, and we started rolling on it,” says Mattocks. “It was perfect timing because we did these cool shows for WMMS at the Hard Rock and at the Odeon and on Opening Day. The band just built on that.”
At the time, Mattocks was an obsessive AC/DC fan. He would work out and run to AC/DC. Every time AC/DC would come to town, Bonfire would play a show.
One time, AC/DC’s Angus and Malcolm Young were supposed to jam with Bonfire at the defunct Parma metal club the Revolution. They didn’t show because the club was just too crowded.
During the course of its 21-year run, the group has also played Wrexham Wrecks ‘Em, the world’s biggest AC/DC Convention, in Wales, and a few years back, it played the AC/DC album Back in Black in its entirety in honor of the album’s 30th anniversary.
At one show to commemorate the death of original AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Bonfire played a gig at Parma’s now-closed Jigsaw Saloon. The band learned 45 Scott songs and hired a bagpipe player to play on tunes like “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).”
The guys have done a regular tribute to Scott ever since.
“That’s when it really started getting noticed,” says Mattocks when asked about the Jigsaw gig.
At 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Brothers Lounge, the group will pay tribute to Scott one final time as Bonfire. The show will mark the band’s last gig as Bonfire.
The guys will change the band’s name to High Voltage in the wake of the gig. The group decided to change its name because it has three new members. It’s not a completely new lineup, however. Jeff Endeman is still the lead guitarist, and Mattocks still sings.
“This band has been around so long, and we’ve done so many gigs,” says Mattocks. “It’s been crazy, and we’re doing a third generation. It’s going to be High Voltage. We were going to call it Big Balls, but we want to be family friendly. The new members are top-notch seasoned Cleveland musicians, and that’s another reason we wanted to change the name. It’s a fresh new band. We won’t just be an AC/DC tribute band. We’ll throw in a Motorhead song and maybe some Def Leppard too. Our goal is to get back into festivals. We’re just trying to have fun; we’re not making tons of money.”
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