It was the summer of 1978 and my love for hard rock was in overdrive. Going to a concert and seeing one of my heroes was still unfulfilled so I would hang onto every report my older cousin would bring when he returned from a big show. The day after he attended the big Summer Jam/World Series of Rock event at the old Comisky Park, I anxiously asked: “how was Aerosmith?!?!?” His reply was “they sucked but there was this band from Australia called AC/DC that blew everyone off the stage!” With that, I bought Powerage and was a fan for life.
Malcolm Young passed away one week ago at the age of 64. He will be remembered as possibly the greatest rhythm guitarist of all time. As a founder of one of the greatest and most successful rock bands ever, Malcolm took a back seat to the maniac stage antics of his brother Angus and the band’s badass front men: the late Bon Scott and his successor, Brian Johnson. What is irrefutable is the fact Malcolm Young wrote amazing songs for over 40 years and provided a kick-ass backbone that elevated AC/DC to stardom without compromising his musical roots or where he came from. Listen to the power of “Bad Boy Boogie”. Malcolm backs up his brother’s ferocious leads with power chords that put a chill down the spine. AC/DC’s body of work is too immense to single out certain songs but it is undeniable that the greatness of a song like ‘Thunderstruck” is not only because of Angus’ opening riff, it is great because of the entire band, which was anchored by Malcolm’s background chords and vocals. “Hell’s Bell’s” is an auditory delight due to the fact Malcolm is so wonderfully in sync with Angus. Who can forget the amazing performance of “Sin City” on the Midnight Special? If you haven’t seen it, it is one of the greatest if not the greatest rock and roll performance ever seen on television. Angus and Bon Scott take center stage, while Malcolm, Cliff Williams, and Phil Rudd stay in the background creating an amazing sound.
Many tributes have been made today and rightfully so. What shouldn’t be lost and should never be lost is the fact that Malcolm Young created one of rock’s greatest bands and wrote brilliant and legendary songs. He was one of the most important players in rock and roll history. Having three sons of my own, I find the fact two brothers created something amazing, profoundly heartwarming
Rest in Piece Malcolm Young and thank you for being a legendary rock star and for bringing the world and me so much joy.
Written by Joe Becht. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBecht