I wanted to say something as soon as I heard, like everyone else. But I knew what was coming – the plaudits, the sentimentality, the nostalgia, the don’t speak ill of the dead obits by the same people that think Guns N’ Roses are the same band today as they were in the 80s. The people who now bow and scrape to the name AC/DC because it’s the law. The new classic rock reality where we just have to love them simply because the fuckers have been going longer than most of the people sucking it all up now have been alive.
And there’s a real point to be made about that, actually. Malcolm really was the hotshot rhythm dynamo, the cat who got the cream when it came to coming up with so many great riffs, great chug-a-lugs, great hangs.
He was much more than that though. He was the band leader. He cracked the whip. Hard. Every successful band has one – Axl in GN’R, Iommi in Sabbath, Page in Zep, Harris in Maiden… The one who isn’t afraid to tell the others to shut the fuck up and do it his way. Malcolm was harder than most. A mangled-faced street urchin from the Glasgow projects who hired and fired at will. Who beat the shit out of Phil Rudd then slung him out of the band. Who told Jonno to keep his mouth shut onstage when he first joined cos no fucker in the audience could understand a word the big Geordie said. Who got rid of Mutt Lange after the producer had gifted them their legend-status with Highway To Hell, Back In Black and For Those About To Rock – because he resented the money Mutt was making and figured he’d learned enough to do it without the producer.
Malcolm was wrong and the band almost sunk without trace in the late 80s because of it. But then this tough nut came back and did it all again in the 90s, leaning on the ancient formula for sure but just dig that face-slapping rhythm, getcha rocks off at the sheer audacity of the cunt.
One thing about Malcolm, he may not have been the nicest man in the room, ever, but you couldn’t keep him down. No matter how hard you beat him. He just came back and kicked your ass some more.
Of course we knew he was going. The Alzheimer’s had been there for years. We’d already bid him adieu. We just didn’t expect him to go so soon. 64 – that’s five years more than me. Five years and several lifetimes getting wasted on the hellish highway, wanting blood, letting it be rock, going down, ruby, ruby…
That just leaves Angus. Angus and when he’s around, Axl. Is it enough? What that and the music? More than a touch too much. What a brilliant, bad-assed little bastard he was though.