With more than 200 million records sold worldwide and over 20 tours, AC/DC, once described as the raunchiest band in Australia, is now an international phenomenon for decades. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, and was listed as one of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
When Malcolm Young and his younger brother, Angus Young, co-founded AC/DC in 1973 and took the letters on the back of their sister’s sewing machines as the band’s name, neither of them thought they would become one of the biggest stars in Rock N’ Roll.
While his brother, Angus, is more visible on the stage with his iconic school boy outfit, Malcolm was regularly considered the driving force of the band, and the architect of its international success. Mark Evans, who was the bassist of AC/DC in the 1970s, once wrote that Malcolm was “the driven one . . . the planner, the schemer, the ‘behind the scenes guy,’ ruthless and astute.” Over the years, Malcolm had been the rhythm guitarist of the band before he retired. He wrote dozens of brilliant songs for AC/DC, including some of their biggest hits like “Back to Black,” “Let There be Rock,” and “Who made Who.”
After struggling with his dementia for 3 years, Young died November 18, 2017 at age 64. AC/DC’s former lead vocal, Brian Johnson mourns the loss of Young and says in his interview with Rolling Stone, “I'll always remember my little audition for AC/DC in 1980. They had asked singers to come in and do a couple of songs. The smallest guy in the room stood up and walked towards me. Pulled out a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, because that is where I am from, and said, ‘There you go, mate, just make yourself at home.’ It was Malcolm.” Angus Young, as both Malcolm’s brother and fellow guitarist, said in the AC/DC statement, “He leaves behind an enormous legacy that will live on forever. Malcolm, job well done."
Malcolm’s death is not only a loss for the band and the family members, but also a sad moment for the music world. Foo Fighters and Guns N’ Roses staged their tribute performances to Malcolm Young during their respective concerts on Nov 18, 2017, hours after Young passed away . Paul Stanley of KISS wrote on Twitter, “The driving engine of AC/DC has died. A tragic end for a sometimes, unsung icon. One of the true greats. RIP .” Australian country singer Keith Urban called Young “the GREATEST rhythm guitarist of ALL TIME” and thanked him for “all of the spit and fire, passion, ferocity, gravitas and for the eternal inspiration .”
Cover of AC/DC's 1979 alum, Highway to Hell. Malcolm Young (left one), Cliff Williams (left two), Phil Rudd (center), Angus Young (right two), Bon Scott (right one).
According to Rolling Stone, Malcolm’s funeral was held on November 28, 2017, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia. Hundreds of AC/DC fans lined at the cathedral entrance, paying their respects and farewell to the Rock N’ Roll idol. AC/DC’s past and present members including Angus Young, Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams and Mark Evans (both former bassists) and Phil Rudd (former drummer) all attended the funeral. Angus carried Malcolm's 1963 Gretsch guitar, nicknamed The Beast, to play one last song. After the funeral, the guitar was placed in his coffin .
While the other members of AC/DC fascinate fans on the stage, it was the vision and belief in Rock N’ Roll of seemingly quiet Malcolm that truly drove the band for four decades, and fueled it to continue on after he retired. May Malcolm’s spirit live on and ‘Rock in Peace.’