Malcolm Young: the five best quotes I ever got from AC/DC’s rhythm master

By Steve Newton

The hard-rock world lost one of its most beloved artists on November 18, 2017, when AC/DC rhythm-guitarist Malcolm Young passed away at the age of 64. Ill health had forced him to leave the band in 2014, and to be confined to a nursing home, where he suffered from dementia.

I only met “Mal” a couple of times. The first time was back in 1983 when I interviewed him–along with singer Brian Johnson and then-drummer Simon Wright–at a hotel before a show in Vancouver. I ran into him again in 2001, backstage after a gig at the Pacific Coliseum on the Stiff Upper Lip tour.

But even those fleeting interactions with Young left me feeling like that he was my kinda guy–an ego-less soul bent on using his talent to spread good times through simple music meant for common folk. From his straightforward guitarwork to his t-shirt ‘n’ jeans attire, there wasn’t much fancy about Malcolm Young.

He wasn’t a fancy talker, either, but what he did say carried weight. Here’s five things he said to me that I thought were pretty cool:

“We sort of find that music tames the beast, you know.” (When asked whether AC/DC’s rowdy style of music incited violence at concerts.)

“Na, na–it was just something to do to get a bit of excitement… Nobody would pay attention to anything that was going on until you kicked them right in the teeth with it.” (When asked whether brother Angus had actually worn a schoolboy outfit as a kid.)

“No way! Do you think we’d have got Simon in the band with a reputation of having Bee Gees for cousins?” (Responding to Brian Johnson’s comment that the Bee Gees were cousins of drummer Simon Wright.)

“Aw, I just tinkle. I mean you can’t outdo Angus, you know. It’s a difficult one.” (When asked if he ever yearned to play more lead guitar.)

“That’s my favourite album, too. That’s the real deal, right there.” (Talking about the Powerage album while autographing my copy of the CD.)


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