AC/DC- Highway to Hell- Angus Young, the late Malcolm Young

A decade before Guns’n’Roses MTV videos made tattoos into a fashion statement, I met AC/DC singer/ lyricist Bon Scott at my Memphis radio station ROCK 103 in late September 1979. Bon’s generous body art and ear studs, plus his affable demeanor, made Scott appear less like a rock singer and more like a character out of Herman Melville‘s Moby Dick. “Before Bon became a rock’n’roller I think he  was a cray fisherman,” says AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young. “He was even talking about getting a whale bone piercing through his nose at one point! And he was always barefoot on stage, and I think he got all of that from working on a boat.”

( That’s Malcolm Young far left, the smiling Bon Scott far right)

In August 1979 a lot of North American rock music fans had no idea that Highway to Hell   was the Australian-based quintet’s fifth album;  that Malcolm Young and Angus Young’s older brother George Young had produced the previous four; and that their long-suffering U.S. record label was getting frustrated by the band’s lack of sales, enough to insist on replacing George Young ( George, who as a member of  The  Easybeats had written the garage rock classic “Friday on My Mind“, just died in October at age 70 ). And to be fair, on paper the label’s choice for the producer role was notable in veteran Jimi Hendrix/ Led Zeppelin/Kiss recording engineer Eddie Kramer, but the band just didn’t click with that combination and instead secured a young but promising South African producer named “Mutt” Lange. His approach emphasized bringing Phil Rudd‘s powerful bass drum up in the mix to lock with Malcolm Young’s unique rhythm guitar style into an infectious groove, while leaving space around the instruments for Angus’ blazing guitar solos and Bon Scott’s bullhorn vocals, equal parts Noddy Holder and Steve Marriott. The result of such songs as “Girl’s Got Rhythm”,”Shot Down in Flames”,”Touch Too Much”,”If You Want Blood(You’ve Got It)”, and the hit title song was over seven million sales just in the U.S., with Rolling Stone magazine ranking Highway to Hell as one of the top 200 albums ever. Really saddened to report that band co-founder Malcolm Young has died from dementia. Malcolm had the best rhythm guitar right hand in rock. – RedbeardACDC-10268403_10202859909051681_8131535064821004567_n

( Malcolm Young (l), Atlantic Records early believer  Michael Prince (c),  Angus Young )