Malcolm Young’s tragic final tour with AC/DC


A roar rises as Wembley’s lights go out. With the hustle of London behind them and a packed return trip ahead of them, all that matters is the band AC/DC, rock legends for decades and still going strong, about to take the stage. They played all of their hits during a recent sold-out performance at Wembley Arena, which was a lot of fun and created many wonderful memories for the fans. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to ignore the feeling that something was lacking.

Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist for AC/DC, passed away on November 18, 2017. Malcolm’s musical brilliance is often overlooked in the band because it’s difficult to make a name for yourself when your guitar-playing partner is the duck-walking, hard-rocking Angus  Young. However, without Malcolm’s contribution, AC/DC would not have survived.

He could be considered the all-time great rhythm guitarist. He mastered melody so well that he could write rock music with just a few chords and straightforward structures, making it easy for listeners to get into and dance to. Because Malcolm was such a master at incorporating rhythm and melody into everything he did, AC/DC was a hard rock band through and through without ever compromising in terms of approach to music. Despite this, their sound is still very accessible to a broad audience.

How he died was even more tragic than the tragedy that befell him. Dementia afflicted him. It is an exceedingly cruel illness. This condition becomes more tragic when one devotes their life to creating music. Creating unique memories for people all over the world adds to the tragedy. It hardly seems fair to take him away from those who provided such pleasant memories.

But the music never left him. No matter how hard it was for him or anyone around him, Young wanted to perform until the end. “He wasn’t feeling well when we went to record [the 2008 album] Black Ice; his dementia symptoms were beginning at that time, but he overcame them,” remembered Angus. “Even before we started recording the album, I asked him, ‘Are you sure you want to do this? You have to be sincere about wanting to do it, I think. It was he who replied, “Yes!” We truly must take action.

This continued when they were on tour: “I asked, ‘Are you going to be fit for this? Since it will be a costly tour,” Young remarked. “He responded, ‘We’ll do it.'” We’ll carry it out. That was his nature. For him, it was laborious work. He was learning many of the songs we were playing that night again, even the ones he knew by heart.

Malcolm’s passion for music and his desire to perform well kept him going even as his symptoms got worse. A shared love of music kept Malcolm and Angus connected, even after they reached a point where Malcolm’s memory of Angus as a brother had faded and he was nearing the end of his life.

Angus reflected on some of their final moments together, saying, “One of the last records I ever played him was The Rolling Stones when they were doing a lot of blues tracks. [2016’s Blue and Lonesome], he just thought it was great.”

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