“Stevie grew up playing like Mal,” Angus said (hear audio below). “That was how he really got into getting his guitar together. So he just tuned in to how Mal would play. And it is a unique style. Because there’s a lot of guitarists out there, like myself, who play a lot of lead notes, and they try to be flashy and stuff. So finding somebody who’s just a solid guy on the rhythm guitar and plays it with such a distinct style, they’re very rare and unique. You only get a handful of those type of players in the world… So that’s the style Stevie aimed for. Malcolm had his own thing going — very distinct. It’s just a unique way of playing. And Stevie, that’s what his bible was. And he filled in for Mal in ’88. It was Mal who got him in: ‘He’ll help while I go on and get myself in rehab.’ And he had been gigging in his own bands for a while. And he came in and did a great job. So it was really obvious, if you were gonna look anywhere, I’d get Stevie in first, because of just that style of playing.”
When Stevie played with AC/DC on a 1988 tour while Malcolm stepped out to deal with his dependency on alcohol, legend has it that Stevie resembled his uncle closely enough that many fans reportedly didn’t even know Malcolm had left the tour.
AC/DC made it official in September 2014 that Malcolm Young would no longer record or perform with the group. His family disclosed a short time later that he was afflicted with dementia. The guitarist passed away in November 2017.
Angus told Guitar World magazine about his musical chemistry with Stevie: “Stevie is a bit like… even when he was starting off with us, he picked up on what Malcolm did rhythm-wise. I mean, Stevie can do solos and stuff like that too, but he went the route a bit like Malcolm. It’s the rhythm that he enjoyed doing best and that’s how he applied himself.
“And you know, Stevie had filled in for Malcolm in the past, in the ’80s. So for me it was, I’m looking at somebody I know is dependable and who can also do that role.
“And I mean, nothing could ever replace Malcolm, because Malcolm is the founder and he set the whole style. But Stevie certainly can do the role. He knows how it should be. So it’s just a case of the two of us sitting down and making sure we’re in sync.”
Back in 2016, Stevie stated about his approach to playing rhythm guitar in AC/DC: “I come from a musical family. My dad and all my brothers played an instrument, mostly guitars. So there was all these instruments [laying] around. You picked it up and played it away. There was always people to show you how to get on with it.
“I work out stuff all the time; I keep working away,” he added. “Every day I listen and try to find bits that I missed or something that Malcolm did that would help with what’s [going on] in the tunes. I’m not trying to imitate or copy him, but trying to keep the spirit of what he did in the band.”
AC/DC‘s latest album, “Power Up”, came out last month. The LP features AC/DC‘s 2020 lineup of Angus Young (guitar), Stevie Young (guitar), Brian Johnson (vocals), Phil Rudd (drums) and Cliff Williams (bass). The effort was recorded over a six-week period in August and September 2018 at Warehouse Studios in Vancouver with producer Brendan O’Brien, who also worked 2008’s “Black Ice” and “Rock Or Bust”.