WASHINGTON, November 18, 2017 ⏤ Malcolm Young, the co-founder and rhythm guitarist for AC/DC died Saturday, according to a statement from the band. Young was just 64 years old. Young and his brother, Angus, founded the legendary rock band in 1973.
George, Angus and Malcolm Young
The Young brothers Malcolm, his older brother George and younger brother Angus were born in Glasgow, Scotland before the family emigrated to Sydney, Australia in the early Sixties.
George Young founded Easybeats with his younger brothers. Their song “Friday on My Mind” had some global success.
Beyond their success with Friday on my Mind, the song was covered by Gary Moore (1987), David Bowie (1973) and Bruce Springsteen (2014). Although Malcolm’s brothers found success in the music industry, Malcolm continued working as a mechanic in a bra factory after leaving school at 15.
“I’ve never felt like a pop star – this is a nine-to-five sort of gig,” he told Rolling Stone in 2008. “It comes from working in the factories, that world. You don’t forget it.”
Angus and Malcolm Young create Rock and Roll history
Malcolm and Angus formed AC/DC, which is an electrical current indicator, in 1973, when the Young brothers met Bon Scott, a friend of their brother George. George acted as producer on AC/DCs early albums. Scott, who died at the age of 33 (1980) was a Scottish-born Australian singer and songwriter. He was not only a vocalist who brought about a journeyman’s gruffness with incredible hi/low range, he was also a lyricist working with the Young brothers on some of their greatest hits from 1974 until his death in 1980.
AC/DC with Bon Scott, Malcom Young on rhythm guitar, Angus young on lead guitar
Following Scott’s death, Brian Johnson joined AC/DC, leading to the decades-long Scott vs. Johnson debate.
Despite the visibility of Scott, Johnson and brother Angus, who played in his trademark schoolboy shorts uniform with cap, it was Malcolm who was seen as the driving force and the leader of the band. As the band’s rhythm guitarist, he was responsible for the broad sweep of the band’s sound, developing many of their guitar riffs and co-writing the band’s material with Angus.
Malcolm was the creator behind many of AC/DCs biggest and best guitar riffs, leading to AC/DC becoming one of the biggest rock bands in history with hits like “Back In Black”, “Highway to Hell”, “You Shook Me All Night Long” and many more. The brothers were credited as co-writers on every song they recorded, from their 1975 debut High Voltage to 2014’s Rock or Bust.
Young took a leave of absence from AC/DC in April 2014 to receive treatment for dementia, and the band’s management announced that he would be retiring permanently.
Malcolm Young, one of the top rhythm guitarists in the world
Guitar Player magazine has stated that the secret to Young’s guitar technique was playing open chords through a series of Marshalls amplifiers. Speaking in an interview with Guitar Player about Malcolm and the album Rock or Bust, Angus says,
“Mal[colm] kept doing what he could until he couldn’t do it anymore, but I have all the material he was working on. There were a lot of riffs, ideas, and bits of choruses. I’d fill things in to see if we had a song. Every album we’ve ever done has been that way. There was always a bit from the past, a bit from what we had that was brand new, and, sometimes, just an old idea that either Malcolm or myself had worked on but we never finished. The songwriting process didn’t really change, except for the fact that Mal wasn’t physically there. So when it came to writing and putting stuff together, I had Stevie [Young] there with me. You see, Malcolm was always a great organizer. He always kept track of the stuff we were writing together. He’d record it, date it, make notes. My records — if you can call them that — are always chaotic. So, this time, Stevie helped me organize a lot of what was there.”
Brother George Young passed in October 2017 at the age of 70.
The band’s statement read:
In 2014, AC/DC announced Young would be taking a leave of absence because of his health, which turned out to be dementia. According to Young’s family, he died peacefully with his wife and his two children at his side.
It is a sad day in rock and roll. Malcolm Young was my friend and the heart and soul of AC/DC. I had some of the best times of my life with him on our 1984 European tour. He will be missed and my deepest condolences to his family, bandmates and friends.
— Eddie Van Halen (@eddievanhalen) November 18, 2017
Malcolm Young was married to Linda Young and had two children, Cara and Ross.