I don’t remember the first time I heard AC/DC. All I remember is it changed the way I consumed music forever. We always listened to rock on roadtrips, but ZZ Top was about as hard as it got. Then my world exploded in the greatest way.
Is it possible for music to feel big? AC/DC felt massive to me. The speed, the power, the vocals. Everything was big, loud, and fast. It was insanity harnessed into five, pint-sized rockers. I was hooked.
The first album I ever purchased was Ballbreaker. While not their best offering, it was still AC/DC, and I about burnt that cassette up. Of course Angus was my favorite, how could he not be?! The guy is endless energy and movement, even to this day.
As I grew older I consumed everything about them. I learned about how they got started in Sydney, Australia, and how Angus wanted to play so bad after school he wouldn’t change out of his uniform. I also learned about Bon Scott, and not only did they replace him but came out swinging with Back in Black.
It wasn’t the first, or last time, a band had to replace someone, especially a lead singer. However, AC/DC seemed to blow up even more after that, which is pretty rare. Scott was a massive piece of the band, and had tons of charisma. Johnson had big shoes to fill.
While Johnson did fill them extremely well, the quality, style, and sound didn’t suffer either. In fact, they appeared to improve. Enter the unsung, middle child of the Young trio of rockers, Malcolm.
While Angus used his incredible skills and style to blast guitar solos and Scott, then Johnson, belted out old and new favorites, Malcolm kept the rhythm, and was one of the best according to many. He wrote most of the songs, with Angus and Johnson chipping in.
Malcolm was the foundation. He kept the music big. They were still the same AC/DC through it all, despite the change. I was especially thankful for this, as I didn’t get to see them until 2009.
I was working three jobs, living at home. Not the best circumstances to say the least. However, when I heard AC/DC was coming to Detroit I had to go. I remember waking up early and driving to my cousin Jacob’s house, and sitting with his wife Teri, as I waited for the tickets to go on sale. Jacob and Teri had “the good internet.”
I was able to snag two tickets, and took my friend Bryan. I didn’t care I put these on a card I had no way of paying off. Fifteen years after buying my first AC/DC album I was going to see them live.
The Black Ice Tour did not disappoint, with Rock N Roll Train kicking things off. It was everything I had hoped it would be. My 11 year-old self would have thought I was the coolest person ever. They sounded just as good live as they did on their albums, and DVDs. They played for almost three hours, and probably could have played for three more.
Malcolm passed away on November 18th, and while he hadn’t played with the band for some time due to Dementia, he leaves a massive whole in the music world and for the Young family. His older brother George passed away less than a month prior on October 22nd. Not a great end to 2017 for the family.
However, there is a long catalogue for both (bit longer for Malcolm) for us to enjoy. Malcolm was 64, which is too young, but talk about packing a lot into 64 years. I will never not be an AC/DC fan, as many millions of people around the world.
I couldn’t think of a way to end this, then I saw the perfect tweet (below). I don’t care if it’s cheesy, or sappy, or even stupid. There is something comforting about this during a sad time, and I’m not ashamed to say it: Bon Scott got his rhythm guitar back, and if there is an afterlife, it will never be the same.
Hell ain’t a bad place to be.
RIP Malcolm Young. pic.twitter.com/kqfgcRMChD
— M O O N S (@heavymoons) 18 November 2017