In the early 1960’s the Australian music scene was booming with bands such as Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Ray Brown and the Whispers, rocker Johnny O’Keefe was belting out the sounds, Elvis Presley was considered as King, the Beatles were arriving and the Rolling Stones were not too far away.
The main problem was the bands making the headlines were all doing it with covers, all-be-it rather well, there was nothing original in the sounds coming out of Australia. A terrific sound with a captivating beat was coming out of Britain and given the overarching title of Mersey Beat.
George Young, a recent immigrant to Australia, a member of the Young family from Glasgow, and resident of the Villawood Migrant Hostel was beginning to believe that he and his mates could come up with a better sound and original pieces. He, his sister Margaret, brother Malcolm and friend Brian Lee attended The Beatles concert held at the Sydney Stadium on 18 June, 1964; in among more than 70,000 screaming fans George realised they had the beat and the ‘chops’, but most importantly their work was all original!
This concert was the true formation of big name bands, the Easybeats, AC/DC and Flash and the Pan. George was to go on to be a founding member of The Easybeats, formed in 1964 that became the most important rock act in Australia for the next six years, rivaled only for top spot by The Beatles. When the Easybeats broke-up a new ‘rock and roll’ sound was beckoning, leading to George, Malcolm and Angus forming AC/DC and the rest is rock history.
Jeff Apter in Friday on my Mind has gathered together the life and times of George Young, a man who for almost all of his life, managed to keep a relatively low profile as far as his fame, occasionally infamy and private life was concerned. Known for his direct approach to people, business and his music he was the steadying hand behind the Easybeats early years, then AC/DC from 1973 for almost the entirety of their years of fame. His songs penned with Harry Vanda, long-time friend and band member, a saw the pair rise to a level of fame seldom rivalled in the music industry.
George Young and Harry Vanda met and became firm friends at the Villawood Migrant Hostel neither ever envisaging they would spend their adult lives working together and playing in high profile bands. Between them, the pair would chalk up a songbook which is considered as Royalty in the music world, writing and producing for John Paul Young, Ted Mulry, Stevie Wright, AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Cheetah and many, many more.
Jeff Apter has the wonderful ability to bring the characters alive on the pages, returning to the heady days of the 1960’s in the Australian Music Scene, the heartbreak of trying to break into the very tight British and US music scenes, felt and experienced by so many top Australian bands and singers during the 1960’s and ‘70’s, the heady days of wild success that led to destruction and for so many early deaths.
George Young remained a private man, deeply involved with his family until his death in 2017 in Singapore, where he had lived for some years. His legacy will live on, his music a tribute to the many that came, saw, believed and became devoted fans. He and Vanda, along with Malcolm and Angus took music to new frontiers and because of his and their faith in Music a new beat was born that still influences music today.
Certainly can’t do better than that!
|Publisher||Allen & Unwin|
|Distributor||Allen & Unwin|