JANESVILLE—Tim Roberts has known for some time that he sounds a lot like former AC/DC frontman Bon Scott.
Thanks to an international singing competition, the rest of the world knows it, too.
In January, the 52-year-old Janesville man’s video submission was chosen from a field of “less than 1 million,” earning him the chance to perform at a Bon Scott tribute event, “If You Want Bon, You Got It,” in Santa Ana, California.
“It wasn’t my best performance ever,” Roberts said. “It wasn’t so much nervousness but all the extrasensory issues. The music was super loud, and I couldn’t hear myself in the song at some point. The sound reverberates off the back wall, so you hear yourself a few seconds after singing. It was different doing it live like that.”
This wasn’t the first time Roberts has displayed his musical chops on stage. In 2016, he won WSJY radio’s “The Voice” competition by performing AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds,” and in 2017, he appeared as Tommy Murray of the rock band Tommy and the Tremors in Dan Fredricks’ original play “Never Too Old” at the Janesville Performing Arts Center. He also has appeared in several other Stage One productions since 2015.
On stage at the Yost Theater in Santa Ana, Roberts belted out “It’s a Long Way to the Top” backed by The Jailbreakers, an all-star collective featuring guitarists Bruce Watson (Foreigner) and Damon Johnson (Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, Black Star Riders), bassist Robbie Crane (Ratt, Black Star Riders) and drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Foreigner, Billy Idol and Ozzy Osbourne).
The Parker High grad first heard about the contest through an AC/DC fan page he follows on Facebook. He created his video on a Thursday, submitted it the next day and found out he had won Saturday.
“My wife (Dawn) and I were at a birthday party at Bogey’s (in Janesville), and around 8 o’clock I got a text that I had won,” he said. “I told my wife, and she asked, ‘What contest?’ Then I asked, 'What are you doing this week? Because we are heading to L.A.'”
Roberts’ musical odyssey began when he got off the plane, as he was whisked away to Mates recording studio in West Hollywood for rehearsals.
“It’s the same studio used by KISS and some other groups,” Roberts said. “I was treated as an equal from the moment I stepped in the door.”
Two days later, Roberts found himself on stage with The Jailbreakers in front of a live audience. He called the entire experience a “whirlwind” and said the best part of the show was being welcomed backstage by other musicians attending the show.
“These guys have earned legendary status, but they are all just people,” Roberts said. “They came up to me after the show and were congratulating me on winning and on my performance. They were just handing me their phones and putting their numbers in mine. I’ve kept in contact with several of them already.”