Angus Young is the lead guitarist of which band? Angus Young is the lead guitarist of the popular band AC/DC. He’s also the band’s songwriter, co-founder, and the only remaining original member. Additionally, Angus Young was also a guitarist in Marcus Hook Roll Band before forming AC/DC.
Angus Young is one of the most prolific guitarists of all time. In fact, he was inducted in 2003 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite not being able to finish his education, he wore school uniforms in most of their gigs and concerts, which later became his signature look.
So, who is Angus Young? What band is he from? How did his professional career start? And what else should we know about him? Here are some of the most interesting things you need to know about the music icon.
Angus McKinnon Young is the youngest of eight siblings. He was born on March 31, 1955, in Glasgow, United Kingdom. At the age of eight, he, along with his parents and three other siblings, migrated to Sydney, Australia.
He went to Ashfield Boys High School but dropped out at the age of 15 to work as a typesetter for the Ribald magazine. He first played in a band called Kantuckee, which split up and was renamed Tantrum.
The first instrument he ever played was a banjo. His mother then gifted him a second-hand acoustic guitar. At the age of 16, he purchased a Gibson SG, which was also second-hand, and used it until the wood rotted because of sweat and water. Nonetheless, he says that the guitar is still in his collection to this day, and it’s still his favorite.
In 1972, both he and his brothers Malcolm and George were part of the Marcus Hook Roll Band. However, it was their friend and music partner Harry Vanda who was playing the lead guitars at the time, not Angus.
In 1973, at the age of 18, he formed AC/DC with Malcolm. This time, Angus was the lead guitarist of the band. The band was signed by Albert Production, which was also the label company that handled The Easybeats, where George played rhythm guitars.
The brothers Malcolm and Angus decided on the name AC/DC after seeing the letters on their sister Margaret’s sewing machine.
Originally, the band was formed with Angus on lead guitars, Malcolm on rhythm, Larry Van Kriedt on bass, Colin Burgess on drums, and Dave Evans as the lead singer.
The Start of AC/DC
The first-ever single released by AC/DC was “Can I Sit Next to You,” which was first sung by Dave Evans. However, after a physical altercation with the manager and not receiving his payment, Evans was replaced by Bon Scott, and the song was re-recorded under the title “Can I Sit Next to You, Girl.”
A couple of years after the band was formed, they released their debut album called High Voltage. In the next three years, the band released four more albums; T.N.T., Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Let There Be Rock, and Powerage.
In 1979, AC/DC released their album called Highway to Hell, which propelled them to international stardom.
Angus Young was perhaps one of the flashiest members of the band, trying on various costumes whenever they performed. He played his guitar while wearing a Spiderman costume, Zorro, Superman, and even a gorilla.
However, it was Margaret’s suggestion that made him settle on his signature look as a schoolboy. Funnily enough, they wanted to match his image of looking young by telling the press that he was born in 1959 instead of 1955.
His schoolboy costume was also sewn by his sister. Unfortunately, considering Angus’s explosiveness on the stage, the costume soon fell apart. He then went on to use his uniform from when he was studying in Ashfield Boys High School.
Angus’s Playing Style
Just like many other artists who grew up in the 60s and 70s, Angus started learning the guitar by listening to BB King. He started experimenting with his Gibson SG and later learned how to play blues licks and power chords.
His playing style was also heavily influenced by hammer-ons. However, perhaps the most important part of Angus’s guitar playing style is his explosive energy.
His Rock and Roll Moves
It was not just Angus Young’s electrifying guitar skills that made him a legend. It was also in part of his rock and roll moves that he would frequently showcase in AC/DC’s performances. Here are some of his most iconic moves.
The duckwalk was inspired by another legendary musician Chuck Berry. While playing riffs and solos on his guitar, Angus would stomp his left foot on the floor while hopping forward with his right foot.
The Dying Bug
Further indulging the crowd with his stage performances, Angus would drop to the floor while kicking his legs furiously and shaking his body as if he were on a seizure. Mind you, he does this while still playing his electric guitar maddeningly.
Funnily enough, this move was born out of an accident. While playing his guitar, Angus tripped and fell on his knees. He thought the crowd would mock him and think of him as an idiot, so he just went on with it. He remained on the floor, bobbed around, and kept playing his solo part.
The Shoulder Ride
Angus Young is only 5’4”, which, in his words, is “pretty short.” So, as one of the band’s antics to further electrify their performances, Bon Scott would often carry Angus on his shoulders while playing the guitar. They would then part the crowd as they moved around the venue.
According to Bon, he got this move from Brian Johnson, the future lead singer of AC/DC following Bon’s death, when he was still in a different band called Geordie. Johnson would carry Vic Malcolm, the band’s guitarist, on his shoulders while playing the guitar.
More than the band’s lead guitarist, we can all agree that Angus Young was a vital part in improving the AC/DC’s entertainment quality. His guitar-playing skills, combined with his iconic rockstar moves, were integral in making the band legendary.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.