Rock ‘n’ roll has had quite a fair share of mysteries. In AC/DC‘s case, perhaps the biggest one is who served as the inspiration for their 1977 hit “Whole Lotta Rosie” — but the identity of the woman may finally have been found.
“Whole Lotta Rosie” is the closing track on the band’s fourth album Let There Be Rock. The lyrics were written by the late Bon Scott about a sexual encounter he had with a woman who, as pointed out in the song, weighed significantly more than him. The first verse reads, “She ain’t exactly pretty / Ain’t exactly small / Fourt’two thirt’ninefiftysix / You could say she’s got it all.”
In the four-and-a-half decades since the song was released, little was revealed about Rosie, aside from the fact that Scott met her after one of the band’s shows in Tasmania, Australia, but her identity was never actually confirmed.
“We’d been in Tasmania and after the show [Bon Scott] said he was going to check out a few clubs. He said he’d got about 100 yards down the street when he heard this yell, ‘Hey! Bon!'” Angus Young told Vox magazine in 1988.
“From what he said, there was this Rosie woman and a friend of hers. They were plying him with drinks and Rosie said to him, ‘This month I’ve slept with 28 famous people,’ and Bon went, ‘Oh yeah?!’ Anyway, in the morning he said he woke up pinned against the wall, he said he opened one eye and saw her lean over to her friend and whisper, ’29!’ There’s very few people who’ll go out and write a song about a big fat lady, but Bon said it was worthy.”
According to author Jesse Fink, who’s written two books about AC/DC (The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC and Bon: The Last Highway), the details of the story have varied over the years, but he pieced the mystery together in 2021. In a new post on the writer’s blog, he recalled that Mark Evans, the band’s bass player from 1975 until 1977, said Rosie had red hair (unlike the blonde, enormous inflatable cartoon woman they’ve used as a prop onstage during the song), and ran a brothel in Tasmania.
In 2017, Fink was contacted by an individual who told him that Rosie — whose last name was Garcia — had died young. Four years later, an Australian woman contacted him claiming that she knew Rosie, that her real name was Rosemaree Garcia and that she did, in fact, have red hair. The person then broke the news that Garcia had died from a heroin overdose in 1979.
“‘Rosie had a very sad life. She was born in Tasmania but lived and died in St Kilda. I’m not sure if she met Bon in Tassie or in Melbourne. St Kilda was known for having bands stay and play there and many lived there as well. I know she went back to Tasmania for a while. Rosie became a heroin addict and prostitute to support her habit,'” the testimony said.
“‘She saw Bon for about six months before he went to England… she was a big girl: tall and heavy. She was part [Pacific] Islander on her dad’s side and her mum was tall, if I remember correctly. Very probably around the size Bon wrote about before she was ravaged by drugs. I couldn’t tell you if it was exact. I never weighed or measured her and no, she wasn’t pretty.'”
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Fink’s blog post further noted that writer Dean Goodman actually uncovered Garcia’s death certificate in 2022, which states that Rose-Maree Carroll (Garcia) died at the age of 22 in Prahran, Melbourne, in the St Kilda area. The blog also contains a photo of Garcia with a man named Graeme Fry, which was taken in 1978. So, while “Rosie’s” identity was technically revealed a few years ago, this is the first time we’re actually getting to see what she looked look.
See the photo below.
“Case closed. This is Whole Lotta Rosie. A human being – not the butt of a fat joke. Mark Evans was right: she had red hair. She’s also far less gargantuan than the song makes out, but Bon was a born yarn-spinner. It’s just unfortunate there’s such a sad story behind it. RIP Rosie,” Fink’s post concludes.