Angus Young looks like a possessed schoolboy as fire explodes from his fingertips each time they dance across the fretboard of his signature Gibson SG. His older brother, Malcolm, has been providing fuel to his fire for more than four decades. And together they've created some of heavy metal's most memorable tunes, including "Hell's Bells," "Highway to Hell" and "It's a Long Way to the Top (if You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)."
But after 41 years of inspiring legions of guitarists, the brothers and the rest of AC/DC may be calling it quits as early as Tuesday, reports the Sydney Herald.
Sources close to the band confirmed that Malcolm is unable to continue playing the guitar due to what some are calling a "terminal illness," although the band has neither confirmed nor denied rumors (which also mention he suffered a stroke that affected his slinging ability).
"One of our boys was pretty ill," said lead singer Brian Johnson to a Florida radio station, "so we didn't wanna say anything. He's a very proud man."
Billboard, though, later reported that the "rumors of AC/DC's imminent demise appear to be exaggerated."
Either way, something has happened to the older Young brother. And with most of the members well into their 60s, it's just a matter of time before rumors of their retirement become truth. (After all, they're not the Rolling Stones.)
The Young brothers formed the band in 1973, replacing their original singer Dave Evans with Bon Scott in 1974. They released High Voltage and T.N.T. In Australia before combining the two albums and releasing it internationally as High Voltage. It sold three million copies.
A couple of more albums were released before Highway to Hell hit the U.S. In 1979 and skyrocketed the band to fame. (I still remember singing the title song every Sunday morning on the way to church in Arlington; it drove my parents mad and caused my youth leader to call for an exorcism, which ended my dreams of becoming a preacher.)
In 1980, Scott died the same way so many legendary singers have: drinking too much in one night. He was replaced by Brian Johnson, and they released Back in Black soon after he joined the band.
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Their legend in the library of metal was cemented.
Flash forward more than 30 years -- AC/DC have compiled a stunning body of work, including 17 studio albums. They've sold more than 200 million records. They're the fifth best-selling band in the United States, ranked fourth in VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" and seventh in MTV's list of "Greatest Heavy Metal Bands of All Time" (back when that network played music). In Rick Rubin's essay on the band for Rolling Stone, he called them "the greatest rock 'n' roll band of all time."
We couldn't agree more.