AC/DC founder Malcolm Young passes away aged 64: A salute to the rock legend

Anurag Tagat

Nov,18 2017 21:28 19 IST

AC/DC founder and rock-n-roll guitarist Malcolm Young passed away after a prolonged battle with various health problems. Malcolm and his younger brother Angus Young from Sydney, Australia, are rock legends credited with making some of the most memorable guitar riffs in the history of the genre, smouldering and electrifying on songs such as 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap', 'Highway to Hell', 'Back in Black' and more.

A message that went out from the band’s social media pages earlier today read: “Today, it is with deep heartfelt sadness that AC/DC has to announce the passing of Malcolm Young. 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.”

Malcolm Young. Photo courtesy Facebook/@AC/DC

Malcolm Young. Photo courtesy Facebook/@AC/DC

A note personally written by Angus was added to the statement, which said: “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.”

AC/DC's Malcolm Young passes away: From 'Highway to Hell' to 'Thunderstruck', a tribute playlist

Malcolm was a co-writer on some of the band’s most seminal work, the high-energy rock ‘n roll that took them to the top of the charts in the 1970s, 1980s and even up to their 2014 album Rock or Bust. Although Malcolm’s onset of dementia officially marked his departure from the band in 2014 – when it was officially stated that he would possibly never play again – his contribution can be measured not just for the riffs and melodies, but also plenty of management and decision-making.

A regular face of AC/DC from all the years they spent haggling with raw deals record labels gave them or how their older brother and bassist George was treated, Malcolm and Angus were always the ones to sign off on any decisions. From 1973 to 2014, Malcolm remained the pivotal brains behind the band, even if Angus became popular for showboating and his fashion sense.

With nearly every album going platinum and AC/DC becoming one of rock music’s most successful artists, there was a sense of no stopping them. Although often running into problems with excessive drinking, Malcolm was also the one to offer the gig of frontman to Brian Johnson when original vocalist Bon Scott died in 1980. It was a time of uncertainty for the band, but the Young brothers ensured they marched without hesitation into their biggest decade yet, ruling 1980s rock radio with songs such as 'Flick of the Switch', 'You Shook Me All Night Long', 'For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)', 'Heatseeker' and more. This, despite the constant fluctuations and tensions within the band and its environment due to continued alcoholism.

Nonetheless, Malcolm and Angus remained close to each other more than anyone else, especially when they ran the band. Outside of the riff ideas and shaping the sonic direction of the band, the brothers took the most out of the band. In his book The Youngs: The Brothers Who Build AC/DC, Australian author Jesse Fink carefully analyses several business decisions and how the brothers held the band together through the decades. Fink told me in an interview around when the book launched, the most Australian thing about a band like AC/DC. “I think it’s that choppy guitar riff that you hear from Malcolm Young on 'It’s A Long Way To the Top', I think that’s a very Australian sound. It was something George Young created and Malcolm developed it.”

As tributes pour in from around the globe from rock and pop’s finest, it’s fair to say that AC/DC and its fans will mourn the loss of a co-founder, but certainly continue carrying on his legacy of building one of the most solid rock bands in history.