Angus Young of AC/DC has revealed that it first became obvious that his brother Malcolm was not well when they were writing the songs for the ‘Black Ice’ album in 2008.
Talking to the ABC’s 7.30 program, Angus said, “When we made Black Ice and we were writing songs together it was noticeable. It was just strange things. Memory things. Malcolm was always very organised and for the first time I was seeing him disorganised, confused about a lot of things. That’s when it kind of hit me that something was not right”.
Things then started to get worse. “When we were actually doing that album it became even more prominent,” he told 7.30. “Then he was being confused just travelling somewhere. He got diagnosed then and they found shrinkage of the brain. I said then, ‘do you want to keep doing this, you don’t have to be doing this if you don’t feel you are capable’. And he said ‘no I’ll keep going til I can’t’”.
Angus told the ABC’s Ben Knight that Malcolm worked right up until this new album ‘Rock Or Bust’, contributing to the songs until he could no longer do it. “Apart from Mal’s physical presence not there, I had to go through a lot myself and put ideas together. Mal kept writing up until he could do it no more,” he said.
Angus and Malcolm physically wrote songs together. “Me and Malcolm when we wrote together, we always bounced off each other,” Angus said. “You get an idea like ‘Highway To Hell’ and it would spring on you in the car and you would get into the rehearsal room and I’d pick up the guitar and go ‘Mal I’ve got this’. I’d start playing the chord and I’d go ‘Mal, now’. Then boom. He did the beat. I couldn’t think of another chord I’d hit. Just from the first thing he did from a chorus that was basically the idea. Mal said ‘do you have a title for it’. I said ‘not yet, I’ll think on it’. Went to the toilet, had a cigarette. Came out and said ‘I got it.”
Brian Johnson agrees that the dynamic of the band changed in the studio for ‘Rock Or Bust’. “First of all, it was a strange feeling because the work-mate, more me for the last 35 years, wasn’t there anymore. For Angus it was a little bit more. It was his brother, his work-mate”.
Malcolm’s illness could have meant the end of AC/DC. That was a decision Brian left to Angus to make. “For me it was up to Angus really,” he said. “These two men made these riffs. Nobody else made them. For a long time since they were at school. I really thought for a long time it might happen. If Angus turned around and said ‘I can’t do it without Malcolm I would have understood perfectly but thankfully it didn’t.”