AC/DC Guitarist Malcolm Young Dies at 64
Malcolm Young, rhythm guitarist of AC/DC, the thunderous Australian rock band that he co-founded with his brother Angus in 1973, died Saturday at 64 after a long battle with dementia, according to Jem Aswad from Variety.
The band, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, announced the passing of Malcolm Young on its website with a plainspoken simplicity that reflected their music. At least part of the post was clearly written by Angus:
“Today it is with deep heartfelt sadness that AC/DC has to announce the passing of Malcolm Young.
Malcolm, along with Angus, was the founder and creator of AC/DC.
With enormous dedication and commitment he was the driving force behind the band.
As a guitarist, songwriter and visionary he was a perfectionist and a unique man.
He always stuck to his guns and did and said exactly what he wanted.
He took great pride in all that he endeavored.
His loyalty to the fans was unsurpassed.
As his brother it is hard to express in words what he has meant to me during my life, the bond we had was unique and very special.
He leaves behind an enormous legacy that will live on forever.
Malcolm, job well done.”
While Angus’ schoolboy outfit and onstage aggression made him the focal point of the band throughout its career, the crushing rhythm guitar of Malcolm Young anchored the band musically, and his no-nonsense toughness anchored it in virtually every other way. Malcolm’s last show with the band took place in Spain in 2010. His illness forced him to leave officially in 2014, although they continued to tour and record. with his nephew, Stevie.
AC/DC’s music is rock and roll stripped down to pure muscle and bone, like a supercharged version of Chuck Berry. It sounds simple but it isn’t — it has a melodic directness that makes for indelible, unforgettable hooks with songs that are as to-the-point as their titles: Back in Black, Highway to Hell, TNT, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, It’s a Long Way to the Top If You Wanna Rock and Roll, and their biggest hit, You Shook Me All Night Long. The songs make as much use of air and tension as they do sound: A skull-crushing riff is often followed by silence or a stripped-down but driving beat; the brothers’ guitars answer each other like singers in a duet.
The two brothers co-wrote virtually every song the band recorded until 2014’s Rock or Bust, released after he’d left the band. The group’s early material was co-produced by their older brother George, a founder of Australian legends the Easybeats, who died last month.
The Young brothers were born in Glasgow, Scotland and lived there until the early ‘60s when the family emigrated to Sydney, Australia. Like several other transplants from the U.K. — AC/DC’s polar opposites the Bee Gees, for one — the brothers thrived in the country’s burgeoning music scene and George quickly found fame with the Easybeats and their global hit Friday on My Mind.
His younger brothers had a longer road to the top, and slogged it out before tough crowds in Australia’s bars before connecting with Scottish-born singer Bon Scott and releasing their first two albums, initially only in Australia, in 1975: High Voltage and T.N.T. The albums were produced by brother George and his songwriting partner Harry Vanda, who brought out the pop sensibilities in the band’s crushing template. The first album contains the formula from which the group rarely deviated: big riffs, a driving beat, throat-shredding vocals, shouted, stomping, fist-pumping choruses — and not least a sense of humor: The second song on the group’s debut album is called She’s Got Balls; their early hit It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll) features a bagpipes solo.