Malcolm Young, guitarist and co-founder of the legendary Australian hard rock band AC/DC, has died at the age of 64. He had been suffering from dementia for at least the past three years.
Malcolm died peacefully on Saturday with his family by his bedside, a statement said.
"Today it is with deep heartfelt sadness that AC/DC has to announce the passing of Malcolm Young," AC/DC wrote in a statement.
"Malcolm, along with Angus, was the founder and creator of AC/DC. With enormous dedication and commitment, he was the driving force behind the band. As a guitarist, songwriter and visionary, he was a perfectionist and a unique man. He always stuck to his guns and did and said exactly what he wanted. He took great pride in all that he endeavored. His loyalty to the fans was unsurpassed."
Malcolm's brother Angus said they were close until the end.
"As his brother, it is hard to express in words what he has meant to me during my life. The bond we had was unique and very special," he said. "He leaves behind an enormous legacy that will live on forever."
In a separate statement to Australia's SBS, the band said: "Renowned for his musical prowess, Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many. From the outset, he knew what he wanted to achieve and, along with his younger brother, took to the world stage giving their all at every show. Nothing less would do for their fans."
Malcolm Young struggled with the onset of dementia for a period of time prior to being admitted to full-time nursing care in Sydney, Australia beginning in 2014.
He was replaced in AC/DC by Stevie Young, nephew of Malcolm and AC/DC guitarist Angus Young.
"We miss Malcolm, obviously," AC/DC singer Brian Johnson told TeamRock Radio in July 2014. "He's a fighter. He's in hospital, but he's a fighter. We've got our fingers crossed that he'll get strong again.
"Stevie, Malcolm's nephew, was magnificent, but when you're recording with this thing hanging over you and your work mate isn't well, it's difficult. But I'm sure he was rooting for us. He's such a strong man. He's a small guy, but he's very strong. He's proud and he's very private, so we can't say too much."
The Sydney Morning Herald reported in September 2014 that Malcolm was being treated in a nursing home in Sydney, Australia. The facility was believed to be Lulworth House in Elizabeth Bay. A Young family connection told the newspaper, "If you were in the room with [Malcolm] and walked out, then came back in one minute later, he wouldn't remember who you are. He has a complete loss of short-term memory. His wife, O'Linda, has put him in full-time care."
Malcolm did not participate in the recording sessions for AC/DC's latest studio album, "Rock Or Bust", which arrived on December 2, 2014.
Malcolm Young was faced with two other massive health scares after the conclusion of the group's marathon 20-month tour in support of 2008's "Black Ice" album. First, he was diagnosed with lung cancer, which was detected early, enabling surgeons to operate on the guitarist successfully. Then he discovered he had a heart condition, which Brian Johnson only learned about while having dinner in London with Malcolm and his wife one evening a few years ago.
"This is typical Malcolm — he got a hold of my hand and went... [bangs repeatedly on his chest]" the vocalist told Q. "He says, 'Pacemaker. Fucking good, mate.' He scared the shit out of us! And there's a twinkle in his eye, he was tickled pink. It's like he was showing us a new fuzzbox or something!"
Meanwhile, Angus, who had begun working on ideas for songs, was posed with a dilemma: whether or not AC/DC should continue on as a touring and recording act without Malcolm. He sought advice from his older brother George, the ex-EASYBEATS frontman who co-produced many of AC/DC's early albums, but eventually made the decision himself.
"Any time I saw [Malcolm], I'd be asking him whether the band should carry on," Angus told Q. "I was even asking him, 'Are you picking up your guitar?' And a lot of times he wasn't. Communication was hard. You kind of know then – what you're saying is not getting through. So I thought: 'Do I keep going?' I talked with my brother George, and George always said, 'It's really what you want. Do you think you should go forward…?' I said, 'It's not easy.' And he said, 'You know Mal better than anyone. Mal always liked to go forward, to play on.' I thought, 'Okay. I'll give it a shot. I'll try.'"
Angus Young spoke to GMI Rock about his brother's health issues, explaining: "Besides the mental side with the dementia, he had physical problems also. He had a lung operation, which was pretty critical, but he got treatment for that because they got to it. It was like a cancer. So they got that early and then later on he had also a heart problem. So it was like everything hit him at once... But he kept going as long as he could... You were hoping that he would get better, y'know, but unfortunately it's a disease... The physical side of him, he got great treatment for all that so he's good with all that, but the mental side has deteriorated. He himself had said, 'I won't be able to do it anymore.'"
Angus Young told Sweden's Aftonbladet that his nephew Stevie was the first person he thought of as a possible replacement for Malcolm. He said: "The logical choice to fulfill Mal's role on the project was my nephew Stevie. He had filled in for Mal in 1988 and he had done an American tour, a whole American tour, and he did it well."
Angus told The Pulse Of Radio that Stevie was a natural fit. "He just plugged into what we were doing, 'cause he's of the same age era as Malcolm and myself," he said. 'He was my eldest brother's son. You know, we all grew up together. Mal played that style how he played that rhythm style. Stevie, you know, he emulated that."
Asked if it was emotional for AC/DC to continue without Malcolm, Angus said, "When we were recording and listening, I didn't notice. Yeah, when you look, [you go], 'Yeah, it's not Malcolm.'"
Malcolm's death comes just weeks after his brother George Young, guitarist for THE EASYBEATS and AC/DC producer, died at age 70.
Malcolm is survived by his wife, two children and three grandchildren.