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AC/DC Guitarist Malcolm Young Dead at 64

Engelke/ullstein bild via Getty ImagesAC/DC's Malcolm Young, who along with his brother and fellow guitarist Angus founded the group and led it for more than four decades, has died. He was 64. A message on the band's website confirmed his passing.

"Today it is with deep heartfelt sadness that AC/DC has to announce the passing of Malcolm Young," reads the message. "Malcolm, along with Angus, was the founder and creator of AC/DC. With enormous dedication and commitment he was the driving force behind the band. As a guitarist, songwriter and visionary he was a perfectionist and a unique man."

"He always stuck to his guns and did and said exactly what he wanted," the note, written by his brother and bandmate Angus Young, continues. "He took great pride in all that he endeavored. His loyalty to the fans was unsurpassed. As his brother, it is hard to express in words what he has meant to me during my life, the bond we had was unique and very special.He leaves behind an enormous legacy that will live on forever. Malcolm, job well done."

News that Malcolm was ailing emerged in April of 2014.  After rumors circulated that a member of the band was suffering from a debilitating illness, AC/DC issued a statement that read, "After forty years of life dedicated to AC/DC, guitarist and founding member Malcolm Young is taking a break from the band due to ill health."  The message also insisted that the band planned to continue making music.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Malcolm moved with his family to Australia in 1963 and eventually decided to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, George, who was a member of the popular 1960s group The Easybeats.

Malcolm and Angus Young formed AC/DC in November 1973, and after several changes, the band's lineup solidified with charismatic frontman Bon Scott.  Touring relentlessly, the band steadily built an international following.  AC/DC was riding high on the success of its 1979 album, Highway to Hell, when Scott died in February 1980 of acute alcohol poisoning. 

Brian Johnson replaced Scott, and with the band recorded AC/DC's eighth studio album, Back in Black.  Released in July of 1980, Back in Black catapulted AC/DC to fame, and has gone on to sell more than 22 million copies in the U.S. alone, making it the sixth most successful record ever in the country.

AC/DC continued to be one of hard rock's most popular acts into the new millennium, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.  The band proved its staying power in 2008, when it released its latest studio effort, Black Ice, which became its second album to top the Billboard 200 -- following 1981's For Those About to Rock We Salute You.

Through it all, Malcolm Young remained an integral part of the group, teaming with Angus to co-write nearly every song AC/DC recorded, often in collaboration with either Scott or Johnson.  Among the many classic tunes Malcolm had a hand in writing are "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Back in Black," "Hells Bells," "Highway to Hell," "T.N.T.," "It's a Long Way to the Top," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," and "Shoot to Thrill."  While Angus drew most of the attention, with his trademark schoolboy uniform and hyperactive stage persona, Malcolm anchored the band's sound with his driving riffs.

Speaking with ABC News Radio in 2003, Malcolm explained what motivated him to keep playing.  "It's just to get better and better," he said.  "It's...you want more.  You want more from your instrument and you wanna take it to another level.  You're always looking for something that hasn't been done. It's a drug, really."

Malcolm is survived by his wife, Linda, and children Ross and Cara.

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posted : November, 18th by Music News From ABC News Radio - Active Rock