Angus Young

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Angus Young (2008)
Angus Young with former AC / DC singer Bon Scott (1979)

Angus McKinnon Young (* 31 March 1955 in Glasgow , Scotland ) is a schottisch- Australian lead guitarist , songwriter and co-founder of the Australian hard rock - band AC / DC . In the Rolling Stone list of the best guitarists of all time Young is ranked 24th on the stage he is known for his wild and energetic performances in a typical British school uniform .



Young was born in Scotland in 1955, the youngest of eight children to a working-class family; his siblings were Stephen (1933–1989), Margaret (1935–2019), John (* 1937), Alexander (1938–1997), William Jr. (* 1940), George (1946–2017) and Malcolm (1953–2017) ). When his father William Young could no longer find a job with which he earned enough to support the extended family, the family emigrated to Sydney , Australia .

Angus started playing the guitar at an early age when he started listening to Little Richard when he was about six years old . He learned to play the guitar and practiced riffs on a discarded acoustic guitar belonging to his brother Malcolm Young . A little later he bought his own Gibson SG , which he discovered in a friend's catalog. Angus' older brother George gave him and Malcolm their first and only guitar lessons.

Young had a habit of going straight to the garage after school to play music with friends. He never changed, but kept the uniform that the students had to wear to school all day long. In an interview, Young later said, “I didn't go into the kitchen to say hello to my parents. I didn't eat anything. I didn't drink anything. I didn't even go to my room to throw my school books on my bed. I came home and immediately disappeared into the garage in my uniform, waiting for my friends to arrive. I couldn't wait to start making music right away. I didn't care about anything else. ”When Young stumbled on stage at one of his first concerts, he eased the embarrassment by simply continuing to play on the floor. Wearing a school uniform on stage and playing while lying down made Young famous on the Sydney music scene.

Young left school at the age of 15 and started working to buy his own guitar gear. One of the first bands he played in was called Tantrum . During one performance he thrilled the audience by showing the duckwalk on stage in Chuck Berry style .

In 1971 Young graduated from high school and began an apprenticeship as a typesetter in a printing company. Young's brothers wanted to become professional musicians with their own bands and let their little brother watch their concerts. Young was not allowed to drink alcohol because he was a minor and had to be driven home immediately after the concerts.

AC / DC membership

At the end of 1972, the brothers' bands broke up. The following year Malcolm Young founded the band AC / DC. The idea for the band name came from the brothers' sister who discovered the symbol for alternating current / direct current on a sewing machine. After a while, Malcolm let Angus play lead guitar in his school uniform. The band received a recording deal, but the first single was not a commercial success. The singer Dave Evans was replaced by Bon Scott in 1974 . With Scott as the singer, a commercially very successful phase of AC / DC followed between 1975 and 1979. To this day, Angus Young is the only member of the band who has been an uninterrupted AC / DC member. His brother Malcolm had to sit out for four months due to his alcohol problems and later left the band completely due to a stroke. Malcolm died in 2017.

At concerts, Young was occasionally carried across the stage and across the hall on Scott's shoulders. Often he carried a small school bag on his back, which was equipped with pyrotechnic detonators that he could make smoking. Phil Manzanera , guitarist for Roxy Music , said in an interview: “I was interested in the guitar playing of this person from Down Under, who everyone said would be on stage in a school uniform. I went to an AC / DC concert, lost track of when it was, and almost passed out when Young and Scott pulled off their show. Young actually wore a uniform and he had a satchel on his back. In the middle of the show, Scott bent down, shouldered Young, and slid across the stage with him. And then suddenly it started smoking from the school bag. It was a surreal sight. A half-naked heavy metal singer, the guitarist in school uniform on his shoulders, and sparks suddenly flew out of his school bag. Pretty 70s-esque. And great entertainment. I will never forget this sight. "

The then still very large radio transmitter for the guitar was housed in the school bag.

Private life

Angus Young lives in both Sydney and Aalten in the Netherlands (near the German border), where he owns a house. He has been married since 1980 and has no children.


Angus Young has a wide collection of guitars, but prefers the Gibson SG , which is why Gibson offers three different models in the "Angus Young Signature SG" series.

One of the first SGs he was seen performing with in the early days of AC / DC was a Gibson SG Standard with Maestro Vibrola ( tremolo ), which he modified drastically over time. Young used the Maestro Vibrola system very rarely for his style and it took away the guitar's tuning stability, which is why he replaced it with a "badass" bridge in the late 1970s. This SG is from 1970 or 1971, as you can clearly see the reinforcement at the transition between the neck and headstock (the large version came in 1970).

Since then, Young has mainly played the following guitars:

Gibson 68 SG Standard Refinished Aged Cherry
To see u. a. in the music videos for Back in Black and You Shook Me All Night Long . It is easy to spot because the “Rhythm / Treble” ring is cream-colored. The color of the guitar will appear differently in different lighting conditions. Sometimes it looks more black, then more brownish to wine red. The trapezoidal inlays on the neck were later replaced by lightning bolts and the bridge pickup got a frame so that it could be screwed closer to the strings. Young played the guitar z. B. 2001 in Munich, to be seen on the live DVD Stiff Upper Lip . It was one of the two live main guitars during the Black Ice tour and was also used as a replacement when his main guitar was slightly out of tune.
Gibson SG Standard Refinished Ebony
Young played this SG as one of the two live main guitars during the Black Ice Tour and in 1991 at the Monsters of Rock Festival in Donington (see Live at Donington ), as well as on the “Ballbreaker” tour (see “No Bull "). During the “Black Ice” tour it was used more often than its old “live number one” in Aged Cherry because of its better sound. For a while the neck pickup was installed upside down.
Gibson SG Standard '64 -Style Red
Young played this guitar during the Ballbreaker Tour. B. in the Sydney Entertainment Center and generally a lot in the late 1980s and 90s.

He also owns a Gibson SG Custom, which he modified himself by swapping the gold hardware for nickel, removing the middle humbucker and mounting a large white pickguard. For example, he used it as a second guitar in Paris in 1979. She also acted as a replacement guitar during the Black Ice Tour. You can see it u. a. on the cover of Blow Up Your Video .

During the Flick of the Switch era , Young often used an SG with a walnut finish that was built in the late 1970s, and in the video for Stiff Upper Lip he can be seen with a more modern Gibson SG standard.

During the Ballbreaker Tour, Young used an unchanged SG from the early sixties. Distinguishing features are the typical cherry finish, the small pickguard and the Maestro tremolo system. He used them in the music videos for Hard as a Rock , Cover You in Oil and Hail Caesar, among others . It can be seen live on DVD No Bull during Let There Be Rock . Young also plays a 1964 SG Junior in Cherry with a P-90 pickup. However, he does not use this model live, as the P-90 as a single coil pickup causes more background noise.

As strings he uses Ernie Ball Strings in the strength 009-042, and more rarely 010 sentences. For picks he uses Fender picks in the strength "heavy".


Young mainly uses all tube amplifiers from Marshall , only during the Razors Edge Tour he experimented with Mesa / Boogie Studio preamps and Marshall EL34 power amplifiers in his guitar rack at the time . Amplifiers from Orange and Wizard (ARD) can also be seen on some live videos.

In the past, Young mostly used the old Marshall JTM45 amplifier in the studio , which was equipped with KT66 tubes. Nowadays he still uses the JMP / Plexi amplifiers with 100 or 50 watts in the studio and on the stage or new editions of the JMPs that do not yet have a master volume. Like his brother Malcolm, he uses input 1 and turns the volume control of these amplifiers relatively high, which causes the output stage saturation, which has a strong impact on his guitar sound. However, some video recordings from the late 1970s also show Marshall JMPs with master volume, which were only used to amplify a Marshall JTM50 Blackflag, as it only had 50 watts and is therefore not sufficient for large stages. Young rejects effects devices between guitar and amplifier, but he used a Schaffer Vega Diversity Wireless System, which had a built-in clean boost, compressor and compander. It was developed by Ken Schaffer in the 1970s and used by many musicians of that time. With this device he could overdrive his amplifier even more. Today he uses the Schaffer Replica from SoloDallas, which is a clone of this system but has no wireless part.

The speakers Angus and his brother Malcolm use are equipped with “Celestion Vintage 30” or “Celestion Greenback” speakers.


  • Jesse Fink: The Young Brothers - Everything about the founders of AC / DC , Hannibal-Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-85445-466-3
  • Jeff Apter: High Voltage: The Life Of Angus Young , Ingram Publisher Services, 2017, ISBN 978-1-86395-958-2

Web links

Commons : Angus Young  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. 100 Greatest Guitarists. In: Rolling Stone . December 18, 2015, accessed February 7, 2020 .
  2. Christoph Dallach: Always keep going! Die Zeit , December 13, 2014, accessed on September 28, 2015 .
  3. ^ Angus Young biography. In: Retrieved February 7, 2020 .
  4. Q Magazine 3/1995
  5. Q Magazine 12/1994
  6. Original instrument with renewed surface