AC/DC Was Dead Long Before Founder Malcolm Young Died
Malcolm Young’s death does not end AC/DC.
The end unofficially came at the conclusion of the Black Ice tour in Bilbao Spain on June 28, 2010. That was the last show Malcolm Young performed with AC/DC.
In 2014 when Malcolm Young left the band because he was suffering from dementia, that more or less sealed the deal. Any song put out in the future by AC/DC would not be written by Malcolm Young.
Though there is a band called AC/DC and they are still recording and touring, the 2008 Black Ice album was the last that Malcolm Young had a hand in writing. Musically, that is what is important.
Guitar players are replaceable. Great songwriters are not.
As great as a rhythm guitar player he was, writing music is what Malcolm Young did best.
Not just writing amazing songs, but incredible memorable riffs and jaw dropping solos performed by his brother Angus. They are deceptively simple, yet undeniably catchy songs and riffs that changed rock n’ roll and influenced, and will continue to influence generations of musicians.
Proof? Listen to the magical 1977 AC/DC album Let There Be Rock.
As hard as it may be, ignore Bon Scott’s brilliant tongue in cheek lyrics and just listen to the main riff of every song.
How many rock albums have two memorable songs? Let There Be Rock has, “Go Down”, “Dog Eat Dog” ,”Let There Be Rock”, “Bad Boy Boogie”, “Problem Child”, “Overdose”, “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be”, and “Whole Lotta Rosie”. Eight catchy songs, heard once – remembered forever.
Lead guitarist Angus Young, the only remaining original band member, has continued AC/DC.
I feel sorry for Angus Young. Angus certainly keeps AC/DC going not for the money, but because honestly what else is there for him to do? An entertainer, a performer has a need to perform.
However without retired bassist Cliff Williams, the unceremoniously dispatched lead singer Brian Johnson and drummer Phil Rudd and the late rhythm guitarist and main songwriter Malcolm Young, this is not AC/DC.
This is like calling Paul McCartney and his recent 2017 touring band The Beatles. It’s not and McCartney knows better.
The touring AC/DC is is basically a juggernaut of explosions, lights,and sound. Even with the great Angus Young heading them up, AC/DC are truthfully now no better than an AC/DC tribute band.
How many post-1982 songs were in AC/DC’s live set list in 2016 with Axl Rose on lead vocals?
Out of 25 songs performed only four were from the last eight AC/DC albums put out after 1981’s For Those About To Rock We Salute You. AC/DC are performing a nostalgia show to themselves and their fans. If Angus Young wants to record and perform as AC/DC he has the right to do so. But deep in his heart Angus knows AC/DC is dead.
On Malcolm’s death, rock world celebrities reacted on shallow “social media” with the typical twitter statements – 140 characters – that expressed RIP’s, grief and tributes.
Only one person from the rock fraternity wrote an in-depth analysis of what Malcolm Young’s passing meant. That was from the always thoughtful, insightful and multi-talented Alex Skolnick, lead guitarist of Testament.
A shorter, more meaningful eulogy could not have been written. We’ll let Skolnick’s words be the coda on Malcolm Young’s passing.
Farewell Malcolm Young. One of the great riffmasters of all time, his loss sadly follows his and Angus’s older brother George – a ‘60s pop legend and also AC/DC’s original producer – who passed away last month almost to this day. Of the two onstage Young brothers, Malcolm was the quiet one, if not in volume, in terms of onstage antics.
Like Alex Van Halen, he provided the fraternal foundation of which a great band was built upon and made it possible for his lead guitar playing brother to reach full potential – competing for the spotlight with charismatic singers (in Angus Young’s case, becoming the very mascot of the band) and becoming lead guitar personified for generations of listeners – yet always coming across as more than content as the supportive brother, never seeking undue attention and holding it down with dignity.
Malcom had no distinctive outfit. Malcom had no signature stage moves. He didn’t need them. He had the riffs and he did them better than nearly anyone.
Who else in heavy rock could play a Gretsch White Falcon – a guitar associated more with rockabilly (i.e. Brian Setzer) – and pull it off?
For many of us, Malcom was our real life version of the fictitious “Guitar George” in Dire Straights’ The Sultans of Swing “He knows all the chords… he’s strictly rhythm he doesn’t want to make them cry or sing” His riffs for AC/DC will go down in history alongside Jimmy Page’s for Led Zeppelin, Tony Iommi’s for Black Sabbath or anyone else’s. Malcom gave us many great measures of music and he will be missed immeasurably. RIP