Malcolm Young The man who made AC/DC

Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       August 24, 2019


Author  Jeff Apter

Distributor:      Allen and Unwin
ISBN:                 9781760528751
Publisher:         Allen and Unwin
Release Date:   August 2019  


Jeff Apter has written a heartfelt tribute to Malcolm Young who, but for his sheer determination and brilliant ability on lead guitar, would have been just like any other young kid in the 1960’s who could play a guitar; having a heap of fun, but destined for another career.

Malcolm Young, like many others began his life in Australia as an immigrant living at the Villawood Migrant Hostel; not the best place to be in Australia, but a place that was to prove a breeding ground for groups such as the Easybeats, and then the legendary song writing team of George Young, (Malcolm’s brother) and Harry Vanda.

Growing up as the youngest child of eight, he was surrounded by music and somehow absorbed the ability to play the guitar well. The beat of the 1960’s was forming and when The Beatles toured Australia, Malcolm, George and sister Margaret where amongst the crowd at the Sydney Stadium to see them play. Malcolm was fascinated with the guitar skills of Lennon and Harrison.

That day out was to change both George and Malcolm’s destiny’s, setting them on a pathway to the very top of their chosen professions, that of rock musicians and song writers.

Malcolm was the driving force behind the formation of AC/DC, a name his sister Margaret saw on her sewing machine. Malcolm, as were his family, was so naïve it was sometime before the connotation of the name was made clear to him, but in the early days it helped the fledgling band get a number of gigs. As Malcolm and Angus were often wont to say, ‘we don’t play, we don’t eat’, which saw them travelling all over Australia to play for anyone who would hire them.

The ethics imbedded in the Young family came from their parents working class background in Glasgow and stood them in good stead throughout the early years; the years they were trying to break into the US and British Rock scene and were ethics Malcolm stuck to all of his life.

AC/DC struggled to form a solid sound until Bonn Scott joined forces with them in October 1974 and the rest is rock history. The band eventually found their place in the developing sound of the 1970’s rising to the very top of their profession, a place which was to hold for 40 years, and see them performing with Malcolm’s hero’s The Rolling Stones a number of times over later years.

Known as the quiet one in the group, the discerning realised from the beginning the person who was AC/DC was Malcolm, a shrewd, capable and determined man, who was committed 100% to the band, the family and the sound. Anyone who thought otherwise soon found out to their detriment.

Fighting his own personal demons, struggling with alcoholism and drug use, he still set the standard for the band which helped them survive the many shifting musical trends over their long and often scandalous careers.

Malcolm Young passed away on 17 November 2017, only a month after the death of his brother George (22 October 2017), after a long battle with dementia. He was 64. In those years he set the standard high for rock, he created a juggernaut that will live on for many generations to come, keeping the sound and commitment to Rock alive.

Angus is now the only member of the family in the much-reformed AC/DC, although Malcolm’s son Ross, who stood in on their last concert, while not quite as good as his father, is considered as almost as good. It is yet to be seen if there is anymore music to be made.

But in the meantime, the world will keep on rocking to Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, T.N.T, Highway To Hell, Back in Black, and Fly on the Wall to name a just a few.

Vale Malcolm Mitchell Young 6 January 1953 – 17 November 2017.