The loss of Malcolm Young has left vibrations felt throughout the rock community. Malcolm — who co-founded renowned rock band AC/DC with his brother Angus Young in 1973 – passed Nov. 18 at the age of 64, due to complications from dementia. His family released a statement on the band’s website, referring to Malcolm as a “visionary who inspired many.” That’s exactly how he is remembered.
With Malcolm not one to bask in the spotlight, his brother Angus has long been noted as the visual representation of the legendary band – largely symbolizing them in his schoolboy uniform. Even in past issues where Malcolm was the one being interviewed, there was seldom a lone shot of him, even on stage. Though this remains how many imagine the band, Malcolm has been steadfast in being the backbone, the vital force behind this iconic group.
In many ways, Malcolm’s glory was achieved behind the scenes, even when the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was out touring and performing every night. Not only a founding member and the rhythm guitarist, Malcolm was often the main writer, a lyrical virtuoso bringing what were just words to life.
His prodigal knack for rhythm guitar “underrated,” even in the eyes of his brother Angus, who once wrote in his Guitar World column, “He [Malcolm] makes the band sound so full, and I couldn’t ask for a better rhythm player. Sometimes I look at Malcolm while he’s playing, and I’m completely awestruck by the sheer power of it. He’s doing something much more unique than what I do — with that raw, natural sound of his.”
“Mal’s a very tough critic, and I know that if I can please him, I can please the world. A lot of people say, ‘AC/DC — that’s the band with the little guy who runs around in school shorts!’ But I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without Malcolm and the other guys pumping out the rhythm.”
Malcolm’s entire demeanor acted as a catalyst for the band’s underlying success; his equal parts of heart and vitality and analytical nature fully comprehending the sound, soul and brand of AC/DC.
Perhaps it in part stems from his Glasgow roots, Malcolm telling Rolling Stone in 2008, “I’ve never felt like a pop star — this is a nine-to-five sort of gig. It comes from working in the factories, that world. You don’t forget it.”
Whatever it was, it continues to live on.
Malcolm, we salute you.