Malcolm Young

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Malcolm Young
Malcolm Young en 2010.jpg
Young in 2010
Background information
Birth name Malcolm Mitchell Young
Born (1953-01-06) 6 January 1953 (age 61)
Glasgow, Scotland
Origin Sydney, Australia
Genres Hard rock, blues rock, rock and roll
Occupations Musician, songwriter, producer
Instruments Guitar, vocals, bass guitar
Years active 1969–2014 (on hiatus)
Labels EMI, Epic, Atlantic
Associated acts AC/DC, Marcus Hook Roll Band
Notable instruments
1963 Gretsch Jet Firebird
1959 Gretsch White Falcon
1959 Gretsch Black Falcon
Fender Telecaster
Gibson L6-S

Malcolm Mitchell Young (born 6 January 1953) is a Scottish-born Australian guitarist best known as founder, rhythm guitarist, backing vocalist and songwriter for the Australian hard rock band AC/DC. He has remained with the band since its November 1973 inception, barring a brief absence in 1988. In 2003, Young and the other members of AC/DC were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Though his younger brother Angus (born 31 March 1955) is the more visible of the brothers, Malcolm Young has been described as the businessman behind AC/DC. As the rhythm guitarist, he is responsible for the broad sweep of the band's sound, developing many of the band's guitar riffs and co-writing the band's material with Angus. He is married to Linda Young and has two children, Cara and Ross.

Young is currently on leave from AC/DC while he receives treatment for an unspecified medical condition.[1]


Before AC/DC[edit]

Young's parents, William (1911–85) and Margaret (1913–88), emigrated from the Cranhill area of Glasgow, Scotland, to Sydney, Australia, in May 1963 with their children George, Margaret, Malcolm, and Angus (leaving behind son, Alex, who later formed the London-based band, Grapefruit). They eventually settled in the suburb of Burwood where the sons attended Ashfield Boys High School. Before emigrating, Malcolm and Angus were keen fans of the Glasgow-based Rangers Football Club and remain so.[2]

George's rock group, The Easybeats, achieved three number one hits in Australia between 1965–68 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 The Velvet Underground).[3] playing cover versions of T. Rex and The Rolling Stones songs.


Malcolm Young in 1990

Young founded AC/DC in November 1973 and soon asked Angus to join, when they were, respectively, 20 and 18 years old. They began national touring in 1974 with singer Dave Evans.[4]

AC/DC relocated to the UK in 1976 and began a heavy schedule of international touring and recording. After the death of lead singer Bon Scott in 1980, they recorded their biggest selling album Back in Black with singer Brian Johnson.[4]

Young missed AC/DC's Blow Up Your Video World Tour to address his drinking problem.[4] Young eventually got sober and returned to the band. During his absence, his nephew Stevie replaced him for a while. It was reported that some fans could not tell Malcolm had been replaced, as Stevie bore a striking resemblance to his uncle.[5]

Health issues[edit]

In April 2014, it was reported that Young was seriously ill and unable to continue performing.[6] On 16 April 2014, AC/DC released a note stating that Young would be "taking a break from the band due to ill health".[7] However, singer Brian Johnson stated that despite earlier reports, AC/DC are not retiring; "We are definitely getting together in May in Vancouver. We're going to pick up guitars, have a plonk and see if anybody has got any tunes or ideas. If anything happens we'll record it.".[8] In July, Johnson revealed that Young was in hospital receiving treatment for an unspecified condition and that during May recording sessions had been replaced in the studio by nephew Stevie Young.[1]

Legacy and influence[edit]

Influenced by 1950s rock and roll and blues-based rock guitarists of the 1960s and 1970s, Young is regarded as a leading rock exponent of rhythm guitar.[citation needed] He is the subject of a song (and album) title by Australian punk rock band Frenzal Rhomb: "Forever Malcolm Young".

Guitar Player magazine has stated that the secret to Young's guitar technique is playing open chords through a series of medium-sized amplifiers set to low volume with little or no gain. This is contrary to a common belief of many rock guitarists that rhythm guitar should involve loud and overdriven power chords through large amplifiers.[citation needed]

Dave Mustaine of Megadeth stated in a 2004 interview that he considered himself, Young and James Hetfield of Metallica to be the best rhythm guitarists in the world.[9]


Young plays a Red 1963 Gretsch Double-cutaway Jet Firebird guitar handed down to him by Harry Vanda and elder brother George; he calls this guitar "The Beast". The guitar has the neck and middle pickups (the middle was a humbucker which had been added by Malcolm) removed and only the stock Gretsch "Filtertron" bridge pickup remains. For a short time, he placed socks in the cavities to prevent feedback. Prior to that, he used a white piece of plastic to cover the pick-up cavities.

Young uses heavy gauge Gibson nickel roundwound strings. (.012-.056).[1].

During the Let There Be Rock era, Young stripped off the original Firebird Red finish to the maple top. Also during the Let There Be Rock Tour, he played a Butterscotch Fender Telecaster. During the Powerage era, he again removed the plastic and stuffed socks in the pick-up cavities, and also changed the tailpiece from the stock Burns vibrato 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, and removed the pick-up ring for the bridge pick-up. This is how the guitar has been since then.[citation needed]

Young also owned a 1959 Gretsch White Falcon that was used during the tours that supported Back in Black and For Those About to Rock We Salute You, but he said that after someone 'fixed' it, it lost its distinctive sound, and so he got rid of it. It was sold a few years ago on a rock star items website, along with one of Cliff Williams' Music Man bass guitars. He has recently used another Gretsch White Falcon at shows at Hampden Park and the Hockenheimring on the Black Ice World Tour. Also in the 1980s and 1990s, Young used a Gretsch Pro Jet with Bigsby tail piece mounted on it.[citation needed]

Angus and Malcolm both use Marshall amplifiers. The amps stacked behind Malcolm onstage are two original Marshall 100 watt heads, one 1966 JTM45/100 and one late Superbass from the late 1960s or early 1970s. Each head powers two 4 × 12 cabinets. He also uses custom-made Wizard amps on tour. His 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 JTM45/100 with KT66 power tubes and a high B+ voltage (625 volts). In a recent interview with Marshall Law, Young mentions his two favourite amps: a Superbass and old Super amp (JTM45/100). Also Young used two Orange full stacks in London, England on 13 July 1976 while playing "Jailbreak", "Live Wire" and "Can I Sit Next to You Girl", with Bon Scott. While AC/DC were playing at Donington Park in 1991, Young used Mesa Boogie stacks.[citation needed]

From 1995 to early 2011, Gretsch produced Malcolm Young signature model guitars in single and dual pickup configurations.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Gretsch G6131MY (guitar modeled after Young's original 1962 Jet Firebird).


  1. ^ a b "AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young is in hospital, says bandmate Brian Johnson". Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "For Those About To Rock!". Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  3. ^ Walker, Clinton (2001). Highway to Hell: The Life and Times of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott. pp. 128–133. ISBN 1-891241-13-3. 
  4. ^ a b c Wall, Mick (2012). AC/DC: Hell Aint a Bad Place to Be. London: Orion Publishing group. ISBN 9781409115359. 
  5. ^ Yves Vranckx and Verónica Martínez. "AC/DC - Bedlam In Belgium - English version". Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  6. ^ Peter Vincent, Martin Boulton. "AC/DC to split over sick band member, according to rumours". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  7. ^ "A MESSAGE FROM AC/DC". AC/DC. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "BRIAN JOHNSON: AC/DC NOT RETIRING YET". Metal Hammer. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Classic Rock » Blog Archive » ‘I’m Over My Metallica Demons,’ Says Dave Mustaine". 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 

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