AC/DC’s Malcolm Young dead at age 64

It was 1973.

Two Australian brothers — Angus and Malcolm Young — had an idea.

Let’s create the best rock band we can. Let’s keep it simple. Let’s stay true to the roots. Malcolm and Angus were the co-founders of the band AC/DC.

Angus became the guitarist front man, all 5’2″ of him, in his cap, shorts, blazer, white shirt and tie. Malcolm found himself content to play rhythm guitar in the back as he loomed over Angus at 5’3″. Malcolm was the band’s leader, writer, and creator of some of the most iconic riffs in rock. Most people had no idea because, well, Malcolm wasn’t the front man or the singer. But he was the band’s inspiration and the band’s guts.

And AC/DC was born, with original singer Bon Scott, towering at 5’8″.

Following Bon Scott’s passing in 1980 due to alcohol poisoning at the age of 33, a new talent — slightly taller — stepped in. Singer Brian Johnson.

Do you remember the very first song from that new album? Because the bells were tolling for Bon Scott.

Brian Johnson made history when he seamlessly replaced Bon Scott. Johnson is a lofty 5’5″.

Malcolm Young started to have problems remembering the songs, having been diagnosed with dementia. He retired from the band in 2014.


Young devised many of the band’s best-known guitar riffs, marking out tracks such as Back in Black, Highway to Hell and You Shook Me All Night Long and establishing them as one of the biggest rock acts of all time.

Three years ago the band announced Young was stepping down to receive treatment for dementia. Shortly afterwards he retired permanently, to be replaced by one of his nephews, Stevie, for the band’s most recent tour.

Stevie had also briefly replaced his uncle on the Blow Up Your Video world tour in 1988 tour while Malcolm sought treatment for alcoholism.

Malcolm Young last performed live with AC/DC on tour in June 2010 at a concert in Bilbao, Spain.

At the conclusion of the Black Ice World Tour, Malcolm was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was treated at an early stage, so surgery was successful and the cancer was removed. He also had an unspecified heart problem and wore a pacemaker.

Young was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the rest of the band in 2003.

“Malcolm is survived by his loving wife O’Linda, children Cara and Ross, son-in-law Josh, three grandchildren, sister and brother,” said the statement on the band’s website.

There is no music today; there is mostly technology and plagiarism.

Goodbye to Malcolm Mitchell Young.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

We hardly knew ye.



Remembering Glen Campbell

Alice Cooper on Glen Campbell, and what Glen meant to music professionals of all makes, models, stripes and genres.

People remember Glen Campbell mostly for his singing.

Too few recognize that he was a guitarist admired by many and, for some artists, considered to be one of the top five guitarists of his day — of any genre. Few realize that Glen was on every original Beach Boys record cut.

Here, Glen and Roy Clark play Ghost Riders In the Sky.

Here, Glen plays the Mason Williams song Classical Gas. And I’m sorry but this simply smokes any other version extant. Period.

You want fast and gifted? Hi-ho, Silver, away!

If it had strings, Glen Campbell could drive it. Foggy Mountain Breakdown with Glen and Carl Jackson.

Tortured and gifted. Many of us are.

Goodbye, Glen.

Yet another icon of my day disappears.



Rush’s Neil Peart: I can tour no more

NEIL PEART RecentThere were rumors, but now those rumors have turned out to be true.

Neil Peart, one of — if not the — finest rock drummers ever, has decided he can no longer tour with Rush.


Alex Lifeson confirms Rush’s retirement from touring

by Alex Young

Rush billed last year’s R40 Tour as their last full-scale outing, a notion which was emphasized when drummer Neil Peart all but announced his retirement in an interview with Drumhead Magazine last December.

“… Lately Olivia has been introducing me to new friends at school as ‘My dad– He’s a retired drummer.’ True to say–funny to hear,” Peart said at the time. “And it does not pain me to realize that, like all athletes, there comes a time to… take yourself out of the game. I would rather set it aside then face the predicament described in our song ‘Losing It’ (‘Sadder still to watch it die, than never to have known it’).”

Now, in a new interview with Rolling Stone, Peart’s Rush bandmate Alex Lifeson has confirmed the band’s retirement from the road. While he and Geddy Lee would like to continue touring, Lifeson said Peart is no longer physically capable of participating in such extended outings.

Watch this video, and watch Neil Peart closely.  He is 63 years old.  Rush has been performing with Peart (as its second drummer) for 42 years.  Hold that thought.

Continuing, from the article:

“He didn’t even want to do the [R40 Tour], to be honest with you,” Lifeson explained. “It’s been increasingly difficult for him, but he committed to the tour and we got through it. As far as he was concerned, that was the end of touring.”

“His shoulders were hurting, his arms were hurting, his elbows, his feet, everything,” Lifeson added of Peart. “He didn’t want to play anything less than 100 percent. He was finding it increasingly difficult to hit that mark on this last tour. So, all those things combined, I get it. I’m disappointed and I think Geddy [Lee] is very disappointed and we’d love to continue this tour a little bit longer, but we’re off now.”

Hearing about the retirement of Peart and possibly of Rush simply, admittedly, emphasizes my own predicament.  I’m retired.  I’m never going to be a cop again.  I can watch deputies in cars on the street driving to their calls and I can’t help but wonder where they’re going and what they’re doing.

In other words, it’s another door closing.  A reminder of how old I am   My own heroes are going away, retiring, and even dying.  I admit it.

But it’s not just Neil Peart; let’s also include this from Wikipedia about the band Rush:

On April 29, 2015, Alex Lifeson stated in an interview that R40 might be the final large-scale Rush tour due to his psoriatic arthritis and Peart’s chronic tendinitis.[78] However, he did not rule out future projects with the band, including smaller tours and limited performances, and even stated that he would like to work on soundtracks with Geddy Lee.[79] On December 7, 2015, Peart stated in an interview that he was retiring. Lee clarified the following day that Peart had only retired from touring and was not ruling out continuing work with Rush in other capacities.[80][81] Lifeson confirmed in 2016 that the R40 tour was the band’s last large-scale tour.[82]

The end of an era.  But in truth, Neil Peart’s retirement is well deserved.

What most don’t know is that Peart has suffered major personal tragedies.  He lost his first child, a 19-year-old daughter, Selena, to a vehicle accident in 1997.  Then, in 1998, Neil Peart’s common-law wife of 22 years, Jacqueline, passed away of cancer.  Peart attributes her death to the result of a “broken heart” and called it “a slow suicide by apathy. She just didn’t care.”[22]

For those who have suffered their own personal calamities, I would recommend Neil Peart’s book “Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road,” written as a result of those two terrible losses.  Beautiful, revealing, insightful, cathartic.

Let us not forget: being a drummer is like working out for three hours straight, involving every limb you possess, sometimes twice a day with some inconvenient and unsatisfactory rest in between.  Oh yes.  For four decades.

Now add in the focus, determination, craft, style and personal drive for perfection of Neil Peart.

I am sad.  But on the other hand, Neil Peart deserves both his rest and his accolades.

His body is crying: I have little left.

He must obey.



Keith Emerson, dead at 71

Keith Emerson 1970sFans at ELP concerts, prior to health and safety codes for dangerous decibel levels, would frequently say the stacks of speakers on stage literally blew their hair and clothing. Working in radio entertainment, going to concerts like ELP and being my department’s Rangemaster all contributed to my loss of hearing.

In the 1970s, the three-man progressive rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer (or ELP) were on top of the record charts time and again.  I attended three of their concerts and marveled at their musical chops as well as their stage theatrics.

Here is one of their most moving and recognizable songs, Lucky Man.

ELP consisted of Keith Emerson on keyboards, Carl Palmer on percussion and Greg Lake on stringed instruments.

The question I have is this: why wasn’t Keith Emerson’s passing more widely covered not just in the general media, but more broadly in the music industry as well?

Further, I found this somewhat disconsolate article in UK media, from the

How the Hendrix of the keyboard was trolled to death by his own fans: Keith Emerson’s widow claims flamboyant showman was a ‘sensitive soul’ killed himself after taking cruel jibes to heart

by Tom Leonard

  • Keith Emerson died aged 71 at his home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles
  • Police said he died from self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head
  • Emerson set up the band in 1970 with guitarist Lake and drummer Palmer
  • He had been planning to retire after a string of concerts in Japan
  • But was ‘tormented with worry’ that he wouldn’t be good enough

Emerson died aged 71 at his home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, on Friday morning from what police said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

It appears that for all his rock dinosaur image, he was the victim of a very modern fate — ‘trolled to death’ by heartless fans who had attacked him online over the quality of his recent music, even suggesting he gave up.

In fact, he had been suffering for years from a debilitating muscular condition that affected the fingers in his right hand.

‘He read all the criticism online and was a sensitive soul,’ said his Japanese girlfriend, Mari Kawaguchi, 52.

Although he had been planning to retire after a string of upcoming concerts in Japan, he was ‘tormented with worry’ that he wouldn’t be good enough, she said. ‘He didn’t want to let down his fans. He was a perfectionist and the thought he wouldn’t play perfectly made him depressed, nervous and anxious.’

It’s easy to believe that he could have been deeply troubled by the cruel barbs from fans. Not only did Emerson take his music very seriously — even if many others didn’t — but he was a deeply sensitive man who was far from the wild rock star that he appeared on stage.

‘Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come,’ said his former bandmate, Carl Palmer.

These parts I clearly remember, with fondness:

If ELP records were bombastic enough, the band’s live appearances were something else. The group toured with 40 tons of equipment, the vast expense justified only by the fact that no one except The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin drew bigger live crowds. It included 13 keyboards and a £2,000 Persian rug that Greg Lake stood on while he played.

Emerson was always centre stage and would be hoisted on a wire 20ft into the air while strapped to a Steinway grand piano. He would then play the instrument while it spun end over end as smoke billowed around him. Finally, in a huge explosion from fireworks inside the piano, it and Emerson would disappear.

The stunt had eventually to stop because Emerson kept getting hurt: once he broke his nose when the piano suddenly stopped mid-spin; another time, the fireworks went off too soon and he was covered in cuts and bruises. Down on stage, the carnage was intense. At that inaugural Isle of Wight performance, a photographer was hurled off stage into the audience by the force of antique cannons firing at the end of one song.

I had the fortunate occasion to see the spinning piano stunt twice — luckily with no broken bones or lacerations involved.

Yes, ELP was bombastic; yes, ELP was excessive.  Yes, some persons made fun of them for their over-the-top theatrics and what the Swedish call självdistans, or lack of distance.  Taking oneself a bit too seriously.

There is no denying that Keith Emerson possessed an amazing aptitude and, like many talents in entertainment with a cutting creative side, could be occasionally confused, sensitive, depressed and desperate.  We’ve all been there.

Tragically, Keith Emerson succumbed to those voices ended his life.



Learn To Fly — The Rockin’ 1000

What if you were just one Italian guy, you really liked the Foo Fighters, and you wanted to honor them?

What if you wanted to honor them by somehow finding and hosting 1000 persons to play the song “Learn To Fly” — simultaneously?

What if it took you one entire year to coordinate the playing of just one song?

Just a few days ago, on July 26th, this is what resulted:

Check out the Rockin’ 1000.

I find this a wonderful song and admire Fabio Zaffagnini’s persistence.

Nicely played, sir.