- Category : Musician - Guitarist
- Type : PE
- Profile : 1/4 - Investigating / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Penetration 4
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 business and brains 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. He is married to Linda Young and has two children, Cara and Ross.
Malcolm 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 they attended Ashfield Boys High School. Before emigrating, Malcolm and Angus were keen football fans of the Glasgow-based Rangers Football Club and remain so to this day.
George's rock group, The Easybeats, achieved many 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). playing cover versions of T. Rex and The Rolling Stones songs.
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.
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.
Young missed AC/DC's Blow Up Your Video World Tour in a bid to stop his drinking problem with the official reason for his absence being "exhaustion." Young eventually got over his drinking problem 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.
Legacy and influence
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. 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.
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.
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)..
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.
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.
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 KT66s 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.
On AC/DC's latest album, Black Ice, Young has stated that he used AmpliTube software on "Big Jack" and "Anything Goes".
From 1995 to early 2011, Gretsch produced Malcolm Young signature model guitars in single and dual pickup configurations.