It was called The Beast; the 1963 sand-coloured Gretsch guitar that was the well-worn weapon of choice for AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young.
Today, The Beast would lay atop the coffin of Young at his funeral in St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, as if pining for his owner, reported 9news.com.au
The farewell for the man acknowledged universally as the greatest rock and roll rhythm guitarist in the world was surprisingly gentle and heartfelt.
Young was described as an extraordinary Australian and an extraordinary guitarist, a man who could arouse emotion with just a few bars of fret work.
From a machinist in a bra factory, to more than 200 million albums sold, including “Back in Black”, the second highest selling album of all time, Young was hailed for taping into the toughness and joy of life in the Australian suburbs; a musician who in his first band line-up, would leave the stage in disgust when the song list would turn to ballads.
Young was celebrated for his dedication to simple, pure, unadulterated rock and roll, along with an uncanny gift for song writing and riff making.
But he was also remembered for his fierce loyalty and business integrity, a familiar trait within the Young family, a trait that made AC/DC a tight cell of relatives and friends that was rarely penetrable to outsiders.
The service also touched on an element rarely know to fans of “Accadacca”; that Young was a keen boatie, but a terrible one!
One eulogy blamed the rise in sea levels on Young’s habitual losing of anchors at sea.
Another claimed his boating skills were so bad, not since Jaws were people so afraid of going into the water.
Another friend spoke of going clothes shopping with him; after two pairs of jeans and half a dozen black t-shirts, Young’s shopping was done.
There was a sadness noted that in his final years, as dementia began to take hold, Young would be cruelly struck silent, but despite so, his unique personality would continue to shine through.
But Young, his brother Angus, and the rest of AC/DC were celebrated for creating music that would touch every country and every culture.
Young’s fellow bandmates would be in the front pews; drummer Phil Rudd after travelling from New Zealand, bassist Cliff Williams.
Singer Brian Johnson could be seen outside the service, rubbing his eyes in disbelief and looking uncharacteristically downcast.
And brother Angus looked forlorn and lost, comforted by those around him.
Just before the coffin would leave St Mary’s, it was sprinkled with holy water, and three low tolls would repeatedly echo from the cathedral’s tower, sounding eerily similar to the chimes that kick off “Back in Black”, the album that shot AC/DC to superstardom.
As the hearse carrying Young’s coffin began to move away, it would be led by the pipes and drum of Scots College, playing a medley appropriate for a Glasgow boy bought to Australia when he was 12; “Waltzing Matilda”, “Road to Gundagai”, and “It’s a Long Way to the Top”.
And for those who attended today, the funeral program gifted them a guitar pick, marked with “MY” and a thunderbolt.
Rock on Malcolm; it’ll be a hell of a gig in heaven tonight.