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Guitarist that Angus Young called better than Van Halen in the 80s


Guitarist that Angus Young called better than Van Halen in the 80s

Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1955, Angus Young was born in a family connected to music where almost everyone played an instrument or sang. His older brother George, was the first one in the family to achieve fame as a musician, being one of the founding members of The Easybeats, which had hits in the 60s like “Friday On My Mind”. Later on, George would help his brother Angus and Malcolm in the early days of AC/DC, especially as producer, alongside his former Easybeats bandmate Harry Vanda.


So Angus had the chance to see the evolution of Rock and Roll up-close since he was a kid and he had seen many incredible guitarists playing over the years. One of them was the late legendary Eddie Van Halen, but in an interview in the 80s, the AC/DC guitarist said there was one guitar player who was better than Eddie.

The guitarist that Angus Young said was better than Van Halen in the 80s

In 1986, AC/DC already had released 10 studio albums and were one of the best-selling bands of all time, especially with the huge success of “Highway To Hell” (1979) and “Back In Black” (1980). But obviously, music had changed a lot since they started in 1973. There were many new bands and new trends in Rock and Roll, since there many guitarists with different styles, which followed the footsteps of Eddie Van Halen, for example.

Although he recognized Van Halen’s talent, he believed that his brother Malcolm Young, was actually better than the Dutch-American guitarist back then. That’s what he said in an interview with Guitar World in 1986.

“Malcolm makes the band sound so full. It’s hard to get a big ego if you play in a band with your brother. It keeps your head on earth. Malcolm is like me, he just wants the two of us to connect. Although he lets me take all the lead breaks, Malcolm’s still a better guitarist than Eddie Van Halen.”

He continued:

“Van Halen certainly knows his scales. But I don’t enjoy listening to very technical guitarists who cram all the notes they know into one song. I mean, Van Halen can do what he does very well, but he’s really just doing finger exercises.”

“If a guitarist wants to practice all the notes he can play, he should do it at home. There’s definitely a place for that type of playing, but it’s not in front of me,” Angus Young said.

In 1986, when Young said that, Van Halen already was one of the most influential bands of the last decade. They had released seven studio albums, six with David Lee Roth on vocals and and one with their “new singer” at the time, Sammy Hagar.

Malcolm and Eddie were good friends

Over the decades, Angus always praised his brother Malcolm, who was two years older than him. He was the one who had the idea to start AC/DC and curiously, became a really good friend of Eddie Van Halen. Their friendship started back when Van Halen was lucky enough to be on the same bill as AC/DC on some festivals.

The Dutch-American guitarist was a huge fan of the Australian group and even said once that Malcolm was the heart and soul of the band. The musician said that in an statement, after Malcolm passed away in 2017 at the age of 64.

“It is a sad day in Rock and Roll. Malcolm Young was my friend and the heart and soul of AC/DC. I had some of the best times of my life with him on our 1984 European tour. He will be missed and my deepest condolences to his family, band mates and friends,” Eddie Van Halen said.

Angus Young later said that Eddie Van Halen was innovative

Angus Young admired Eddie a lot and paid tribute to him in an interview with, saying he was innovative after his passing in 2020 at the age of 65. The last time he saw the musician was when AC/DC performed in Los Angeles and Eddie went to see them.

“He was just such a warm person. The first thing you notice about him was as soon as you saw him he had a big smile. Like a big laugh and ‘give me a big hug.’”

He continued:

“Always excited to see you. To the music world, it’s a big loss. But again, for those of us lucky to have met him, it’s probably an even bigger tragedy. Also for his family and everyone close to him. When you heard the news that cancer had come back to him, you’re praying that the guy would get through. But that’s how I always remembered him. And I also remember seeing him when we toured in America and he came out to Los Angeles.”

“And he came to the shows to see us. He was still the same – big smile, happy, and he was ever so happy to see us. And he was very fond of Malcolm. It is a tough thing and he definitely leaves a big hole. And if you knew him, he does leave a big hole in people,”” Angus Young said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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