Written by: Alex Green
Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist for the hard rock band AC/DC has died.
Young, who had been suffering from dementia, was 64.
The Glasgow-born Young moved with his family to Sydney in 1963 and in under ten years the Australian transplants soon became part of two of the most respected, vital and legendary bands in music history. The rhythm-guitar playing Malcolm and his brother Angus formed AC/DC, while their elder brother George played in the Easybeats.
AC/DC’s first album was 1975’s High Voltage and from there they never let up, selling over 200 million records worldwide, including such classics as Back In Black, Highway To Hell and Let There Be Rock.
“Today it is with deep heartfelt sadness that AC/DC has to announce the passing of Malcolm Young,” AC/DC wrote in a statement issued to its fans on social media. The statement went on to read: “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.”
To this, Angus Young added, “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.”
Angus has had to bury two brothers in two months–in October, George died at 70.
While many thought that Angus was the braintrust of AC/DC, bassist Mark Evans, who had a tenure with the band in the late ’70s, once observed that Malcolm Young was, in many ways, the real leader of the band. He once wrote that he was, “the driven one … the planner, the schemer, the ‘behind the scenes guy,’ ruthless and astute.”
The New Yorker echoed that sentiment, writing: “He was also their onstage leader, the person the rest of the band watched for changes.”
As for his playing, Premier Guitar’s Joshua Ray Gooch once observed of Malcolm’s musical prowess: “Malcolm’s tone is far cleaner than even a diehard AC/DC fan would ever expect. His loud-yet-clean approach leads to maximum note clarity and dynamic range. When his string attack is soft, his tone is almost completely clean. However, when he lays into the strings, you can hear that classic AC/DC amp breakup. This lets him achieve all possible sounds in-between these two extremes with every pick stroke. The sheer power and aggression of Malcolm’s playing is proof that more gain does not equal more rock.”
Young retired from the band in 2014 due to ill health and was replaced by his nephew.
He is survived by his wife Linda and his two children Cara and Ross.