Australia has lost a behind the scenes – and sometimes in front of them – music legend, as performer and producer George Young has died at age 70.
Scottish-born Young first came to prominence as one of the songwriters in The Easybeats, who formed in Sydney’s Villawood Migrant Hostel and soon after paved the way for other Aussies overseas. This was due to the massive success of their genuinely classic slice of pop perfection Friday On My Mind, which was also later covered by David Bowie on his Pin-Ups album.
The Easybeats were basically Australia’s version of The Beatles, triggering piercing screams and soiled knickers wherever they went, and notching up oodles of hits along the way – She’s So Fine, Wedding Ring, Women (Make Me Feel Alright), Sorry and Good Times, to name a handful. The band was also where Young formed a song writing partnership with another new Aussie in Harry Vanda. Together they would be responsible for shaping rock music in Australia through the 1970s and beyond.
George Young was the older brother of AC/DC’s Malcolm and Angus and, together with Vanda, was instrumental in helping the fledgling band find their sound – influential albums High Voltage, T.N.T., Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Powerage and Let There Be Rock all being their work. The pair’s production nous found a home at Albert Productions in Sydney, and they also gave a guiding hand – and killer sound – to The Angels and Rose Tattoo.
Then there was the smash hit Evie (Parts 1, 2 and 3) in 1974, which they wrote and produced for former Easybeats mate Stevie Wright.
It wasn’t all about balls-to-the-wall rock though, as Young and Vanda wrote pop hits for many. They worked their magic most notably for John Paul Young (including Yesterday’s Hero and Love Is in the Air), and the stage of Countdown would have been pretty empty without their works for others such as the Ted Mulry Gang, William Shakespeare, Ray Burgess and Cheetah.
Young and Vanda kept some songs for their own projects, most notably Flash and the Pan. Their debut 1976 single Hey St. Peter is an underappreciated masterpiece, and was followed by hits such as Down Among the Dead Men and Waiting for a Train. The B-side of Hey St. Peter – Walking in the Rain – was later a hit single for Grace Jones.
Vanda and Young were, quite rightly, inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1988.
Since retiring from the music industry in the latter part of the 1990s, Young lived in Portugal with his family.
Imagining an Australia without The Easybeats, AC/DC and many of the other hits that George Young had a hand in is simply unimaginable. Vale George Redburn Young – and thank you.