R.I.P. Malcolm Young: 1953 – 2017

I don’t even know where to start.

I could tell you about the first time I heard AC/DC, but I don’t remember when that was. They’ve just always been there for me, some intrinsic facet of existence that exists both inside and outside of time and being. They were, and they will be, because they are, forever and always.

I could tell you how Malcolm is the most underrated rock ‘n’ roll guitarist of all time, but there will be more than a few articles saying some variation of just that, and having been making that argument for nearly thirty years now, frankly I’m tired of it. If you can’t hear the simple perfection of those riffs, can’t move to the whip-tight swing of Malcolm and Phil and Cliff (or Mark), can’t feel the unstoppable power in the rock ‘n’ roll freight train that is AC/DC… well, then you should let the big kids talk about music and go sit in the corner with a copy of Let There Be Rock on repeat until you either understand or wither away. Angus has always been AC/DC’s face, their frontman even when they had one of the greatest frontmen in rock, but AC/DC was always weird like that. Their lead guitarist is the frontman, and their rhythm guitarist is effectively the lead, because beneath the killer solos and Angus’ schoolboy shenanigans, they were always following Malcolm. Angus gets the credit—and much credit is deserved, of course; he’s a guitar god with good reason—but Malcolm seldom does, and thus I guess I made the argument again anyway: He’s the most underrated rock ‘n’ roll guitarist of all time, as much a part of that music as it was a part of him. He was rock ‘n’ roll, and he will be, because he is, forever and always.

People can go out and hear R.E.M. if they want deep lyrics; but at the end of the night, they want to go home and get fucked! That’s where AC/DC comes into it. ~ Malcolm Young

I could remind you of what you should already know: For over forty years now, AC/DC was the greatest embodiment of hard rock ‘n’ roll on this planet. The very terms “rock” and “roll” imply movement, are based in rhythm, and no band has ever encapsulated the swagger and swing of rock as purely as AC/DC. There’s a direct line from Chuck Berry to the Rolling Stones to AC/DC, no question, each one amplifying the former until you get the deafening, stripped-down purity of a “Highway To Hell,” a “Problem Child,” a “Flick Of The Switch”… AC/DC is the sound of unadulterated energy, the immutable force of primal rhythm and sheer volume, as timeless as the beating of a drum and the shaking of the hips, and released now into the universe through a Gretsch and a Marshall, that energy flows around us and through us, unstoppable, unchangeable, unforgettable. It was, and it will be, because it is, forever and always.

I can say any number of things, of course, but there’s no need because Malcolm said them all already, with that Gretsch and that Marshall, and he said it all far better than I ever could, better than almost anyone ever could have. He was the greatest, and he still is; he will be missed, and yet, in every open E chord, in every shake of the leg, in every cracking backbeat, there he is, and there he was, and there he will be, forever and always.

Posted by Last Rites


  1. thanks for that tribute. i grew up listening to ac/dc. in college, oh man, ac/dc practically defined our lives. i long ago drifted from them in search of harder stuff, but continued to always appreciated them and could always get into an ac/dc song on the radio. yes malcolm and ac/dc will be sorely missed. they were an institution.


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