AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64
AC/DC were remarkably consistent for over 40 years with its mix of driving hard rock, lusty lyrics and bluesy shuffles, selling over 200 million albums, surviving the loss of its first singer and creating one of the greatest rock records ever in “Back in Black,” the world’s second best-selling album behind Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”…
The Glasgow-born Young brothers — who moved to Sydney, Australia, with their parents, sister and five older brothers in 1963 — formed the band in 1973. They were inspired to choose the high-energy name AC/DC from the back of a sewing machine owned by their sister, Margaret.
Angus experimented with several different stage costumes at first — including a gorilla suit and a Zorro outfit — but the school uniform was a natural, since he was only 16 at the time….
Though the band championed good-natured hell-raising, it had to weather suggestions in the 1980s that they were a threat to the moral fabric of society. There were rumors the band’s name stood for Anti-Christ/Devil’s Children and many were shocked when it was learned that serial murderer and rapist Richard Ramirez identified himself as a fan and left an AC/DC baseball cap behind at a crime scene.
Implacable, immutable, irreplaceable: why Malcolm Young was a rock’n’roll great
And Malcolm Young was the heart of it all. The great producer and engineer Terry Manning – whose career consisted largely of working with the greatest soul groups and rock bands – once said that as a rhythm guitarist, Malcolm was the equal of Steve Cropper, of Booker T & the MG’s, and that does not oversell him.
Malcolm, on a Gretsch Jet Firebird that always looked giant on his tiny frame, was not just the business brain of AC/DC, but its musical heart, too – everything AC/DC did stemmed from his playing. And what he played, he insisted was rock’n’roll, not rock. One puzzled interviewer once asked him the difference between the two. “Well, rock bands don’t really swing,” he said, as if explaining how the earth was in fact spherical rather than flat. “Rock’n’roll has the swing.” He proceeded to demonstrate precisely what he meant by hissing out the respective hi-hat patterns, while beating his thigh to mime the kick drum. “They don’t understand the feel, the movement.”..
AC/DC’s greatest songs aren’t just riffs and choruses, they’re full of tricks and variations: the pauses after three crashing chords of each part of Highway to Hell’s riff, the stutter in Back in Black, the way Riff Raff spends 30 seconds building up to its monstrous central riff, then a further minute allowing the whole riff cycle to unspool before allowing the vocals to come in.
For people who simply refuse to countenance the idea that a band who spent almost all their career playing riffs with largely puerile lyrics on top could be revolutionary, the following statement will sound ridiculous, but I believe it to be true: Malcolm Young was hard rock’s Ralf Hutter, someone who saw the possibilities of focusing on one thing and pursuing it to its end. He was implacable, immutable, irreplaceable. He was one of the greatest rock’n’roll musicians ever.