A heavy metal guitar pioneer who helped found AC/DC

Obituary: Malcolm Young was born on January 6th, 1953 and died November 18th, 2017

AC/DC co-founder and guitarist Malcolm Young in 2003. He died last Saturday aged 64. Photograph:  Yui Mok/PA Wire

AC/DC co-founder and guitarist Malcolm Young in 2003. He died last Saturday aged 64. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire


Malcolm Young, the guitarist and songwriter who helped found the Australian rock band AC/DC, died last Saturday. He was 64.

His family confirmed the death in a statement, adding that Young had had dementia for several years. It did not say where he died.

Young and his brother Angus created AC/DC and played their debut show at a Sydney, Australia, club on New Year’s Eve in 1973.

The group, known for its power-chord riffs, ear-splitting vocals and raucous energy, found enduring popularity and great commercial success despite waiting until 2012 to release its music catalogue to iTunes.

“You need to entertain” during a live performance, Malcolm Young said in an interview posted on YouTube, so that the audience always knows that “something’s going to happen on that stage tonight”.

The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

“AC/DC’s music and approach had a worn-in, scruffy vibe that stood in stark contrast to the pretentiousness suffusing much rock music at the time,” the Hall of Fame website said.

AC/DC has sold more than 72 million albums in the United States, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. In 2016, the band was still packing arenas full of fans wearing devil horns for the “Rock or Bust” world tour, and belting out hits like Hells Bells and Highway to Hell. Angus Young was the only original member of AC/DC still performing that year.

Last performance

Malcolm Young’s last performance with the band was in 2010 in Bilbao, Spain. At the time, he was having cognitive problems but decided to keep performing during the tour, oftentimes having to relearn guitar parts he had written, Rolling Stone reported. Young’s nephew, Stevie Young, replaced his uncle in 2014.

While Young struggled with alcoholism in the 1980s, his nephew stepped in to substitute for him. “I wasn’t brain dead, but I was just physically and mentally screwed by the alcohol,” Young said in an interview.

The band won its first Grammy in 2010, for best hard rock performance, with the song War Machine. The group’s influential album Back In Black was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2013.

Malcolm Young was born on January 6th, 1953, in Glasgow, Scotland. His parents later emigrated to Sydney.

Survivors include his wife, O’Linda; two children, Cara and Ross; his brother Angus; a sister; and three grandchildren, according to a statement on the band’s website. Young’s brother George, one of the band’s producers and songwriters, died last month.