Rock legends salute AC/DC founding member and guitarist Malcolm Young, dead at 64

Young’s family said he died peacefully, with them at his bedside.

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 November, 2017, 10:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 November, 2017, 10:00pm

Tributes continued to pour in on Sunday in for Malcolm Young, co-founder of the Australian rock band AC/DC, a day after he died at age 64 after suffering from dementia for several years.

Malcolm Young and his brother Angus Young founded AC/DC, whose hits included Highway to Hell from 1979 and Back in Black and You Shook Me All Night Long from 1980. The group produced 17 studio albums, and sold more than 200 million records.

“Malcolm, along with Angus, was the founder and creator of AC/DC. With enormous dedication and commitment he was the driving force behind the band,” AC/DC posted on its Facebook page on Saturday night. Young was a songwriter, backing vocalist and rhythm guitarist for AC/DC, a hard rock and heavy metal band that was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

By Sunday morning, fans and friends had posted 56,000 comments on Facebook under the band’s announcement.

Australian rock legends paid tribute to Young, who emigrated to the country with his family as a child, and was in his early 20s when the band released their debut album High Voltage. While Angus was the public face of the band, Malcolm was renowned for being behind the famous riffs that left fans thunderstruck.

“Devastated to hear of Malcolm Young’s passing … For me personally, the GREATEST rhythm guitarist of ALL TIME,” Australian country star Keith Urban tweeted.

Cold Chisel frontman Jimmy Barnes said Young’s death was a “sad day for music”.

“You were the greatest rhythm guitar player ever,” he wrote on Twitter.

Cold Chisel guitarist and vocalist Ian Moss meanwhile wrote of how he heard Young play for the first time in 1973 in Sydney.

“It was a solid lesson in attitude and how important it is to carry that to every performance,” Moss wrote on Twitter.

“Rest well mate, you’ll never be forgotten.”

Australian rock historian Glen A. Baker told national broadcaster ABC that “AC/DC were incredibly special”.

“They became a part of Australian music at a time when we needed heroes and people who were totally reliable, who wouldn’t deviate for one second, who had a clear vision of where they wanted to go.

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“The architect of that sound was Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist who wrote every song, every original song they did.”

ABC music critic Paul Donoughue said Young’s guitar playing underpinned AC/DC’s sound and also influenced a generation of musicians, saying Young’s impact on rock 'n' roll “cannot be overstated”.

Meanwhile, global giants of the music world also took to social media to express their shock.

Ozzy Osborn tweeted that it was “so sad to learn of the passing of yet another friend, Malcolm Young”, and Eddie Van Halen tweeted that it was a “a sad day in rock 'n' roll”.

“Malcolm Young was my friend and the heart and soul of AC/DC. I had some of the best times of my life with him on our 1984 European tour. He will be missed and my deepest condolences to his family, bandmates and friends.”

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons added to the condolences, tweeting: “Malcolm was a good man. Always a kind hearted soul. finally recall when we took out AC/DC on their first American tour. It (sic) will be sadly missed. RIP”.

Fans also shared their love of AC/DC’s iconic music and the impact on their lives, with tens of thousands of people from around the world posting tributes on AC/DC’s Facebook page.

“Thank you and all your brothers for changing my world with your music. AC/DC is, and always will be, one of the greatest rock bands of all time,” wrote one user.

Another added: “I am so terribly sad for Angus and all fans of the greatest Aussie band ever! You have been a constant in my life AC/DC.”

Young is survived by his wife O’Linda, children Cara and Ross, three grandchildren, a sister and a brother, the band said. He “passed away peacefully with his family by his bedside”.

Young’s family confirmed in 2014 that he was suffering from dementia. Young last performed with the band in 2014, then stepped aside for his nephew, Stevie, to take over rhythm guitar duties for the band’s last tour to promote its 2014 album, Rock Or Bust.

AC/DC has sold more than 200 million albums across the world.

George Young, another brother to Malcolm and Angus, died on October 23 at age 70. George Young had served as producer to AC/DC and guitarist for the band Easybeats.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse