AC/DC Glasgow Origins: How Angus and Malcolm Young’s East End upbringing influenced one of the biggest rock bands of all time

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The Young brother’s don’t speak often about their upbringing in Glasgow

Widely considered an Australian band, most casual fans of the massively influential rock-band have no idea that half of AC/DC (the best half in our opinion) was born right in Glasgow.

Angus and Malcolm Young were born and raised in Cranhill at 6 Skerryvore Road in their formative years - they came up hard in a small cluster of houses in the East End, just under the recently constructed (at the time) M8 bridge.

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In a small tenement flat, Angus and Malcolm grew up with their mum, dad, older brother George, and sister Margaret squeezed into the tiny space.

Very rarely to either of the two brothers speak of their time in Glasgow, Angus and Malcolm Young were eight and ten respectively when they emigrated to Australia, so surely the pair must share memories from their time growing up in the East End.

The family really struggled during the de-industrialisation of Glasgow - their father, traditionally the breadwinner of the home in that era, had been out of work for years.

In spite or perhaps because of their rough upbringing, the Young brothers were hungry for something more - something more that would eventually manifest to the formation of one of the biggest and most influential Rock bands of the latter 20th century - selling well over 200 million albums.

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A young Angus & Malcolm Young in Cranhill - shortly before they emigrated to Australia.A young Angus & Malcolm Young in Cranhill - shortly before they emigrated to Australia.
A young Angus & Malcolm Young in Cranhill - shortly before they emigrated to Australia. | Contributed

Malcolm explained their upbringing back in 2012, he said:“We came from quite a poor family in Glasgow and the reason we went there is because my dad was out of work. He was out of work for years.”

“It was a chance. There were job opportunities, so the next thing we were all on our way. We saw brochures and it looked phenomenal.”

“The reality is that when we got there we were put into an immigrant hostel. I’m not saying it’s bad but it was a very slim, bare necessities situation and it rained non-stop for six weeks with snakes crawling around the floor.”

He added: “We wanted to go home. But when we saw both our parents crying the night we arrived, we took strength from that to try and stick it out.”

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Out of the frying pan and into the fire, the Young brothers knew they had to something to lift themselves and their family out of this situation. They took inspiration from their older brother George, who enjoyed some success with an Australian pop outfit, The Easybeats.

Like AC/DC, the 1960s group was formed by recent arrivals to Australia. Malcolm Young spoke about how much this inspired him in a 1997 interview, he said:“The band was formed in a migrant hostel,”

“Two of the guys came from Poland to Australia, others came from Liverpool and Yorkshire, and George from Glasgow. Within nine months, those five immigrants who arrived with nothing in their pocket were at number one in the charts.”

Angus & Malcolm Young in much more recent yearsAngus & Malcolm Young in much more recent years
Angus & Malcolm Young in much more recent years | Contributed

Young attributed the band’s success in part to old-fashioned Scottish grit. He said:”Our Scottish background gave us a good grounding – we had a kind of doggedness and determination.

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“We kept at it and never let go of what we wanted to achieve.”

Back in 2009, Angus Young revisted Cranhill after more than 30 years away. He didn’t say much about his visit to where he grew up after the fact, beforehand however he joked about renaming the area ‘Angusland’ and emblazoning his band’s distinctive ‘thunderflash’ logo on the water tower overlooking the scheme.

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