The Australian musician played a pivotal role in shaping the band’s unmistakable sound
Iconic musical talent George Young has passed away, aged 70.
The musician, songwriter and producer was the brother of AC/DC frontmen Angus and Malcolm Young, and played a pivotal role in shaping the band’s unmistakable, hard-rock sound. “Without his help and guidance there would not have been an AC/DC,” the band said yesterday in a statement.
In the studio, Young produced AC/DC’s first five albums, each a powerhouse of frazzled guitarwork and boisterous energy. The crisp likes of Whole Lotta Rosie, Let There Be Rock and It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) remain brattish anthems of rock and roll rebellion to this day. Away from the mixing desk, though, Young became something of a father figure to his two brothers and their bandmates. Telling them “that he didn’t believe a band can ever call itself a band until it’s done at least 200 gigs”, he helped kickstart AC/DC’s world-renowned live show – one which has gone on to hit the tens of thousands in their subsequent 40-plus years on the ‘Highway To Hell’.
“Losing George was almost literally like losing a sixth member of the band, and much more,” writes Murray Engleheart in AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, on Young’s subsequent forced departure once AC/DC signed to US mega-label Atlantic Records.
Ahead of his time with AC/DC, Young was a musician in his own right with The Easybeats, themselves the first Australian group to find success outside of the Land Down Under, with Friday On My Mind. The youthful exuberance of The Easybeats undoubtedly helped pave the way for his AC/DC brothers’ similarly free-spirited mindset, and indeed Australian music as a whole – something that saw him awarded two of the country’s coveted ARIA Awards for musical excellence.
These days, Australia is a hotbed of musical talent. Everyone from indie big-hitters like Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett, to the thrashy likes of Violent Soho and Dune Rats, owe George Young a debt of respect for taking Aussie rules rock and roll to the wider world.