Friday, December 8, 2017

The Late Great George Young

George Young, a founding member of The Easybeats and Flash and the Pan, died on October 22 2017 at the age of 70.

George Young was born on February 9 1942 in Glasgow, Scotland.  His older brother Alex would also become a rock star as the bassist of Grapefruit, as would his younger brothers Malcolm and Angus as the founders of the legendary band AC/DC. According to Malcolm Young, all of the males in his family played some sort of musical instrument. It was following the particularly severe winter of 1962-1963 (known as "the Big Freeze of 1963") that the Young family immigrated to Australia. 

It was at the Villawood Migrant Hostel in Sydney that George Young met Dutch immigrant Harry Vanda. The two of them formed The Easybeats in 1964 with Dick Diamonde on bass, Gordon "Snowy" Fleet on drums, and Stevie Wright on lead vocals. George Young played rhythm guitar, while Harry Vanda played lead. 

The Easybeats became the resident band for the Beatle Village Club in Syndey, where they were discovered by the music publisher and producer Ted Albert. Mr. Albert signed them to his own Albert Productions and secured a record deal with EMI/Parlophone. The Easybeats had success early, with their first single "She's a Woman" going to no. 33 on the Australian chart in 1965. That same year they would have major hits with "She's So Fine" and "Wedding Ring". Their first album, Easy, released in September 1965, went to no. 4 on the Australian chart.

In 1966 The Easybeats moved to London, where they would see even more success. Their single "Women (Make Me Feel Alright)" went to no. 4 on the Australian chart. Their single "Come and See Her" went to no. 3. They had their first no. 1 with "Sorry". It would be "Friday on My Mind" that would be the biggest success of their career. "Friday on My Mind" not only went to no. 1 on the Australian chart, but proved to be their first international success. It went to no. 6 on the UK singles chart and no. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. Their album It's 2 Easy went to no. 7 on the Australian chart.

The Easybeats would not be able to repeat the success of "Friday on My Mind". Their highest charting single in 1967 was "Heaven and Hell", which went to no. 8 on the Australian chart. By 1968 The Easybeats, which had regularly seen their singles reach the top ten and top twenty of the Australian chart, only landed one single, "Land of Make Believe", in the top twenty. They did have some international success with "Hello, How are You", which went to no. 20 on the UK chart, and  "St. Louis", which peaked at no. 100 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Even though The Easybeats saw fewer hits after 1968, they saw several of their songs covered by other bands. "Bring a Little Lovin'" was covered by Los Bravos and "Come In, You'll Get Pneumonia" was covered by Paul Revere & The Raiders. "Good Times", which saw some airplay in the United States and United Kingdom, would later be covered by Shocking Blue. Nearly all of The Easybeats' songs were co-written by George Young, either with Stevie Wright or Harry Vanda.

By 1968 the band was in decline and its members began to drift apart. One last album, Vigil, was released in May 1968. A final album released under The Easybeats' name, Friends, was actually a compilation of demo tracks for other artists written by Harry Vanda and George Young save for the singles "St. Louis" and "Can't Find Love".  Their single "Peculiar Hole In The Sky" only went to no. 53 on the Australian chart in 1969. Their single "I Love Marie" did even worse, only going to no. 93. The Easybeats then broke up in 1969.

In 1970, following the break-up of The Easybeats, George Young and Harry Vanda formed a songwrting and production partnership, Vanda & Young. They both wrote songs for other artists and performed under various stage names Paintbox, Tramp, Eddie Avana, Moondance, Haffy's Whiskey Sour, and Band of Hope. In 1972 George Young and Harry Vanda formed the Marcus Hook Roll Band, which inlcuded George Young's brothers Malcolm and Angus. Vanda & Young would go onto produce AC/DC's early albums, including T.N.T., High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and Powerage. George Young alone would produce AC/DC's 2000 album Stiff Upper Lip.

In 1976 Vanda & Young formed the New Wave band Flash and the Pan. The band's first single, , "Hey, St. Peter", went to no. 5 on the Australian singles chart and reched no. 76 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their second single, "Down Among the Dead Men", went to no. 4 on the Australian singles chart and reached no. 54 on the British singles chart. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1978. It would be followed by five more alubms: Lights in the Night, Headlines, Early Morning Wake Up Call, Nights in France, and Burning Up the Night. Their single "Waiting for a Train" proved to be a hit in the United Kingdom, reaching no. 7 on the British singles chart. 

Vanda & Young would also produce songs for such artists as Steve Wright (the formerlead vocalist of The Easybeats), The Angels, John Paul Young (who was not a relation), and Rose Tattoo. They co-wrote Meatloaf's 1995 song "Runnin' for the Red Light (I Gotta Life)". 

George Young retired in the late Nineties. 

Even if the only things George Young had ever done was to co-write "Friday on My Mind" and "Walking in the Rain", he would be notable. As it is he did much more. He co-wrote almost every single one of The Easybeats' songs, including their biggest hits. He also co-wrote almost every Flash and the Pan song. On top of that, he produced several of AC/DC's albums, including some of their best work. He also produced a good deal of work for other artists. On top of all this he was a talented musician, quite good at playing rhythm guitar, bass, and piano. He might not have been as famous as his younger brothers Malcolm and Angus (at least not in the United States), but there is every reason he should be.

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