Malcolm Young's guitar playing underpinned AC/DC's sound
In those first few strums, you can hear it all.
The first track from their first international release – ‘It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock ‘N’ Roll)', from 1976's High Voltage – and it's Malcolm Young's chugging rhythm guitar that introduces AC/DC to the world.
They would go on to produce so many other great songs – their first four albums, produced by Malcolm and Angus’s older brother George Young, are considered rock staples – but everything you need to know about Malcolm Young’s aesthetic is in those first guttural moments.
You hear a sound that would not only come to define the band, but that would go on to influence hard rock for decades.
Def Leppard and Guns N' Roses, most immediately, would borrow that gritty tone; ditto bands in genres like heavy metal (Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer) and, later, nu metal (Korn and System of a Down).
In Australia, that guitar sound underpinned the worldwide success in the early 2000s of Jet and Wolfmother.
And that’s just the ones who made it big.
Consider the influence of AC/DC – who have sold more than 200 million records to date – on any teenager over the last four decades who wanted to escape his angst or anger via an electric guitar and a Marshall stack in the garage.
"I’m sad to hear of the passing of Malcolm Young. It was great to get the opportunity to open for AC/DC on the Highway To Hell tour & we certainly learned a thing or two. He was an incredible guitar player & the glue for that band onstage & off. RIP Malcolm, say hi to Bon." - Joe— Def Leppard (@DefLeppard) November 18, 2017
That’s why Malcolm Young’s impact on rock and roll cannot be overstated.
He was the band’s driving force, its solid centre, both musically and personally.
Bon Scott had the swagger and the mystique; known for his hard-drinking lifestyle, he died too young.
Angus Young is the cheeky eccentric getting about the stage; sometimes you wondered how he could carry on with the tune given his penchant for performance.
But Malcolm was always there, dependable, reliable – and essential. Not just in his guitar playing but as chief songwriter and the band’s elder statesman.
Though he stepped away from AC/DC in recent years, following his dementia diagnosis, the AC/DC fans – the ones who still fill stadiums the world over, 10,000 at a time – know his legacy.
We might have lost Malcolm Young, but that unmistakable sound he made his own will live on.