AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson paid tribute to Malcolm Young, saying his late bandmate gave rock and roll “a fist” and “a kick in the ass.”
Malcolm, who co-founded AC/DC with his brother Angus in 1973, died on Saturday (November 18) at the age of 64 after suffering from dementia and failing health for several years.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Johnson said: “Malcolm gave rock and roll a fist. He’d give it a kick in the ass. People always used to ask Mal, ‘How do you get that sound, man?’ Malcolm either wouldn’t tell them or just really couldn’t explain it. He would just go, ‘We just play.’ I used to stand next to him at the end of ‘Let There Be Rock’, where there is a big huge build at the end and it builds and builds. Malcolm would go through two guitar picks during that one song. He would wear them down. He was the most precise guitarist.”
Artists around the world have continued to pay tribute to Malcolm in the wake of his passing, with GUNS N’ ROSES and FOO FIGHTERS both performing AC/DC songs in recent days to memorialize the fallen guitarist.
“Malcolm would have been absolutely stunned at the outpouring of tributes and grief,” Johnson told Rolling Stone. “He didn’t think of himself in that way, that he was great and all that. I learned the team spirit from Malcolm. You are just a cog in a well-oiled machine. If we all pulled together at the same time, you get this amazing thing happening. And it worked, you know. Mal is not here anymore, but if I ever have a problem, I stop and go, ‘What would Mal do?’ He just always seemed to do the right thing.
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Malcolm retired from AC/DC in 2014 after it was made public that he was suffering from dementia.
Angus carried on as the sole original member of AC/DC, with his and Malcolm’s nephew Stevie replacing Malcolm in the lineup for the recent “Rock Or Bust” LP and tour.
Johnson himself was forced to leave the band in March 2016, midway through its world tour in support of “Rock Or Bust”, after doctors told him he faced total hearing loss if he continued to perform live. His replacement for the balance of the dates was GUNS N’ ROSES singer Axl Rose.
Johnson joined AC/DC in 1980 following the death of vocalist Bon Scott. He made his debut with the band on that year’s “Back In Black” album, one of the most successful LPs of all time