When I first picked up a guitar, the song that inspired me to do it was “Long Way to the Top”, (played by the cast of School of Rock as the end credits rolled.) My uncle, well versed in every shade of rock ‘n’ roll, informed me that the song was originally by AC/DC, and then everything changed.
When people think of that powerhouse of Rock ‘n’ Roll, everyone thinks about their two main frontmen; the howl of Brian Johnson’s (and Bon Scott’s) vocals, and the electricity of Angus Young’s lead guitar. Malcolm Young’s role as rhythm guitarist was understated in comparison, hiding in the corners of the stage and working away on basic chords. But his sound was just as vital to the band as his brother’s was. You need only compare the likes of “High Voltage” or “Highway to Hell” to Rock or Bust (recorded without Malcolm) to hear the difference. His playing was a raucous tour-de-force, and the power he lent AC/DC’s relentless riffs can’t be matched or replaced.
Malcolm Young passed away on November 18, after having suffered with dementia for a number of years. He is not the first loss in AC/DC. They famously lost Bon Scott in 1980, and his replacement Brian Johnson was effectively removed from the band following hearing troubles on tour. The band, under the leadership of Angus Young, has always found a way to carry on, but this it truly feels like some of the essential DNA has been lost. Not just in AC/DC, but in rock itself. He was one of the greats, and not enough people knew his name.
He will be missed.