Do you know these intriguing facts about Malcolm Young?

I was sad to learn that rhythm master Malcolm Young died on Saturday. Though Young stood just five feet and three inches tall, he was a titan among the rock fraternity. In honour of his achievements, here are some intreguing facts about the driving force behind the great Aussie band ACDC.

Malcolm played lead guitar, too

It should come as no surprise that Malcolm Young was more than capable of playing lead guitar. He just chose to let brother Angus take the spotlight. For a taste of Malcolm’s lead playing, check out these ACDC songs: Soul Stripper, You Ain’t Got A Hold On Me, Can I Sit Next To You Girl? and Show Business.

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Colour change

Malcolm Young’s main guitar was a 1963 Gretsch double-cutaway Jet Firebird, which his older brother George gave him. The guitar was originally red in colour; however, during ACDC’s 1977 Let There Be Rock tour, Malcolm decided to strip it down to the maple. Why? Maybe he thought red was a bit too flashy? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Holey guitar

Staying on the subject of Malcolm Young’s guitar, have you noticed that the neck and middle pickups are missing? Being a man who always knew what he wanted, it seems that Malcolm decided he only needed the bridge pickup, so he removed the other two. To prevent feedback on stage, Malcolm would either stuff the pickup cavities with socks or cover them with plastic.

Some guitar play between Malcolm and Angus:

He likes it heavy

Without a doubt, ACDC is a heavy bone rattling. Have they ever played a ballad? I don’t think so. Perhaps, some of the heaviness can be attributed to Malcolm’s choice of strings and picks: heavy gauge nickel round-wound strings (0.012 – 0.056) and heavy Fender picks.

Best rhythm guitarist

According to Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, himself, James Hetfield (Metallica), Rudolf Schenker (Scorpions) and Malcolm Young are the best rhythm guitarists in the world. Mr. Mustaine isn’t a modest man, is he?

The Velvet underground

Do you know that Malcolm Young’s first band was the Velvet Underground? It true! Okay, I’m being a tad misleading. Malcolm’s Velvet Underground was a band based in Newcastle, Australia, not the famous one in New York, USA.

So, there you have it: a few facts about the late, great Malcolm Young. I’ll let him have the last word:

“Most people, when they progress, they progress right up their asses”— Malcolm Young.

Well said, Malcolm.

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Andrew Healey


Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

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