Obit of the Day: AC/DC and AIDS
Few people who read this will have ever heard of Vince Lovegrove before now. But he helped change the history of rock and roll forever. Lovegrove was a member of The Valentines, a “teenybop pop” band, that had several hits in Australia. (Their biggest was “My Old Man’s a Groovy Old Man” which is ironic since Lovegrove’s “old man” hated the fact that his son became a singer.) The band was together for about three years before an arrest for marijuana proved too controversial for the Valentines’ teen audience.
Lovegrove headed to Adelaide, Australia and became a DJ and band manager. In 1974 he was contacted by a friend, George Young. Young’s brothers, Angus and Malcolm were looking for a new singer for their band. Lovegrove recommended his former Valentines bandmate, Bon Scott. With Scott on vocals, AC/DC became a worldwide sensation.
Lovegrove continued to manage bands, but it wasn’t until the mid-80s that he found his next big group. He helped transform the DiVinyls pushing the group to develop a harder sound and sexier image. But Lovegrove abandoned the DiVinyls in 1985, several years before their big hit “I Touch Myself,” when he discovered his wife and son had AIDS.
Vince Lovegrove met Suzi Sidewinder in New York City in the early 1980s. In 1985 they gave birth to a son, Troy. He was HIV-positive. Suzi, who didn’t know she had the virus that causes AIDS, passed the virus to her son while pregnant. Even with the stunning news, Lovegrove and Sidewinder married after Troy was born. Vince left music to take care of his wife and son. As he watched them slowly succumb to AIDS, Lovegrove began putting together two documentaries, one for Suzi and one for Troy, that helped make the case that AIDS was not just a disease of gay men.* The films Suzi’s Story(1987) and A Kid Called Troy(1993) were both released after Vince’s wife and son had died,
At the time of his death Truegrove lived with his daughters - one older than Troy and one younger - in the small town of Rosebank in Australia. Lovegrove died in a car accident on March 24, 2012…only five days after his 65th birthday.
(Image of Vince Lovegrove and Bon Scott from an Australian fan magazine in the 1960s is courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au)
* For younger readers of OOTD, in the mid-1980s there were two things that were considered facts about AIDS: 1) it was a death sentence and 2) it was a disease that only affected homosexual men. Today HIV can be managed through medication and individuals can live for years with the virus. (The most famous example is former NBA star Magic Johnson.) We also know that AIDS is blood-borne and although prevalent in gay men early on it can infect people of all sexualities, races, genders and ages. I highly recommend you read Randy Shilts’ And the Band Played On for an early history of AIDS.