"He was our spiritual leader": A tribute to the life and career of AC/DC's Malcolm Young

(Image credit: Bob King/Redferns/Getty Images)

The rhythm guitar playing of Malcolm Young is one of rock’s great monuments. A massive edifice - solid and weighty, yet hewn with brutally exacting precision - it was the cornerstone of AC/DC’s music from the Seventies right up to our own time. Many rank Young as the greatest rock rhythm guitarist ever, which puts him out front in a distinguished company that includes icons like John Lennon, Keith Richards and all who have followed in their wake.

Rhythm guitar is an often-underrated art, but it was far from Young’s only contribution to the AC/DC juggernaut. He was also the band’s founder and one of its chief songwriters, working in both cases in tandem with his younger brother and AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young. In 2014, AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson summed up Malcolm Young’s importance to the band as follows:

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Alan di Perna

In a career that spans five decades, Alan di Perna has written for pretty much every magazine in the world with the word “guitar” in its title, as well as other prestigious outlets such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, Creem, Player, Classic Rock, Musician, Future Music, Keyboard, grammy.com and reverb.com. He is author of Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits, Green Day: The Ultimate Unauthorized History and co-author of Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Sound Style and Revolution of the Electric Guitar. The latter became the inspiration for the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibition “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll.” As a professional guitarist/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist, Alan has worked with recording artists Brianna Lea Pruett, Fawn Wood, Brenda McMorrow, Sat Kartar and Shox Lumania.