Malcolm Mitchell Young (January 6, 1953 – November 18, 2017) was an Australian guitarist, best known as a founding member, rhythm guitarist, backing vocalist and co-songwriter for the Australian hard rock band, AC/DC. He had been with them since he founded the band in November 1973.
Though his younger brother Angus is the more visible of the brothers, Malcolm has been described as the business and brains behind AC/DC. As the rhythm guitarist, he is responsible for the broad sweep of AC/DC's sound, and co-writer of the material who has developed many of the band's well-known riffs. But behind the scenes, his word is said to be 'law' on matters such as organizing when and where the band go on tour, whether to make an album or film soundtrack, and when to meet the media.
Malcolm Young's parents, William and Margaret, emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland to Sydney, Australia in 1963 with their children George, Margaret, Malcolm and Angus, leaving son Alex (who later went on to form the band Grapefruit) in the UK. They eventually settled in the suburb of Bur-wood.
George Young's rock group, The Easy-beats, achieved many number 1 hits in Australia between 1965–1968 and achieved international success with Friday On My Mind. Malcolm first played with a Newcastle, New South Wales band called 'The Velvet Underground' (not to be confused with the New York-based Velvet Underground). playing cover versions of T Rex and Rolling Stones songs. His brother, Angus, began playing in another group called Kentucky.
Malcolm and Angus founded AC/DC in November 1973, when Malcolm was 20 years old and Angus was 18. They began national touring in 1974 with singer Dave Evans.
AC/DC relocated to the UK in 1976 and began a heavy schedule of international touring and recording. After the death of singer Bon Scott in 1980 , they recorded their biggest selling album Back in Black with singer Brian Johnson. Malcolm Young missed the band's 1988 tour because he was trying to overcome his own alcoholism. This was covered up however, and it was officially announced that he was tending to his sick son, which did have an element of truth to it. Malcolm eventually got over his drinking problem, and returned to the band. During Malcolm's absence, his nephew Stevie replaced him for a while. It was reported that some fans could not tell Malcolm had been replaced, as Stevie bears a striking resemblance to Malcolm.
Malcolm married his wife O'Linda early on in his career and has had one daughter and a son with her. He spends most of the year living in the UK, returning to "Oncaparinga", his home in East Balmain, Sydney, nearly every Christmas. Malcolm Young is listed in Who's Who In Australia for 2004-2005.
Influenced by 1950s rock and roll, and blues-based rock guitarists of the 1960s and 1970s, Malcolm Young is regarded as a leading rock exponent of rhythm guitar. His economic playing, 'groove' and riff-based compositions have been highly influential on subsequent hard rock and heavy metal music acts. Young is the subject of a song (and album) title by Australian punk rock band Frenzal Rhomb; "Forever Malcolm Young".
Young plays a 1963 Gretsch Jet Firebird guitar (originally red) given to him by Australian rock guitarist, Harry Vanda. The guitar has the neck and middle pickups removed. For a short time, he placed socks in the pick-up cavity, to stop it from feeding back. Prior to that he used a white piece of plastic to cover the pick-up cavities.
During the Let There Be Rock era, he stripped the red paint off, down to the maple top. During the Powerage era, he again removed the plastic and stuffed socks in the pick-up cavities, and also changed the bridge from a stock Gretsch trapese tail-piece, to an all-in-one Badass bridge, and put a black piece of plastic over the cavity where the original tail-piece was. During the Highway To Hell era, he removed the socks. The guitar stayed like this until 1995, when, during the Ballbreaker tour, he replaced the Badass bridge with the original tailpiece, removed the pick-up ring that was held in the bridge pick-up. This is how the guitar has been since then. Malcolm uses old Gibson 12-56 pure nickel roundwound strings.
Malcolm also owned a 1959 Gretsch White Falcon that was used during the tours that supported the albums, Back In Black and For Those About To Rock (We Salute You). But he said that after someone 'fixed' it, it lost the sound he liked it for, and thus got rid of it. It was sold at a rock star items website, a few years ago, along with one of Cliff Williams's MusicMan bass guitars.
Angus and Malcolm Young both use Marshall amps. The amps stacked behind Angus and Malcolm onstage are two 1959 SLP 100 watt heads (reissues to the original Super Lead Plexi). Each head powers four 4 x 12 cabinets. Malcolm also uses custom-made Wizard amps on tour. Malcolm's main amp since recording Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in 1976 is a slightly modified Marshall Superbass from the late 1960s or the early 1970s. On Ballbreaker, he used a Marshall JTM100 with KT66s and a high B+ voltage (625 volts). In a recent interview with Marshall Law, Malcolm mentions his two favourite amps - a Superbass and old Super Amp (JTM100).
Malcolm got an endorsement deal with Gretsch to produce a signature model based on his original guitar. Gretsch now makes Malcolm Young signature model guitars, in single and dual pick-up configurations.
^ Walker, Clinton (2001). Highway to Hell: The Life and Times of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott, pp. 128-133. ISBN 1-891-24113-3.