Sunday, October 29, 2017

George Young has left the building . . .

GEORGE YOUNG (1946-2017): 

Some notes:
  • George Young was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1946. 
  • George, with his parents and brothers Malcolm (born 1953) and Angus (born 1955), emigrated to Australia in May 1963. Also aboard the same plane were his eldest brother Stephen (1933 – 1989), his only sister, Mrs Margaret Horsburgh (born 1936) and brother, William Jnr (born 1941). Another elder brother, Alex (1939 – 1997), stayed in Scotland, and was later a member of London-based group, Grapefruit. A final brother, John Young (born 1938), had migrated to Australia separately. 
  • According to Malcolm Young: "All the males in our family played, Stevie, the oldest played accordion, Alex and John were the first couple to play guitar, and being older it was sort of passed down to George, then myself, then Angus." 
  • Initially staying at Villawood Migrant Hostel in NSW, the Young family moved into a rental house in Burwood. George fancied a girl at the migrant hostel and travelled back there repeatedly. 
  • In 1964, with other residents and former residents of Villawood Migrant Hostel - Dick Diamonde (born Dingeman Vandersluys) on bass guitar, Gordon "Snowy" Fleet on drums, Harry Vanda (born Johannes Vandenberg) on lead guitar and Stevie Wright on lead vocals – Young formed The Easybeats. Rehearsals were held in its laundry room at the hostel.
  • The Migrant Hostel, built in 1949, housed migrants from post-war Europe to work in local industries. By 1964 the centre housed 1,425 people, mainly from Britain and Europe. By 1969 it was the largest migrant hostel in Australia, and was at that time housing migrants from Britain, The Netherlands, Denmark, West Germany, France, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Turkey. (My family came to Australia in 1956 and stayed at Scheyville Migrant Hostel, my father working extra long and extra hard to get us out of there as quickly as possible, but that’s another story). 

Villawood Migrant Hostel - the Nissen huts were horribly cold in winter and hot in summer.

  • More recently the Hostel has become the controversial Villawood Detention Centre, housing persons who have entered the country illegally, those who have overstayed visas and asylums seekers. In January 2008, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) said the high-security section of Villawood Detention Centre was the "most prison like" of all Australia's immigration detention centres and demanded it be closed immediately. The HREOC described the infrastructure as dilapidated, and conditions inside the detention centre as "harsh and inhospitable". There have been protests, riots and suicides at the centre. 

The Villawood Detention Centre is set alight during riots in 2011.
  • So far as I know, there is no plaque for noted alumni at the Centre. 
  • After local success with a number of hits, the Beats became the first rock and roll act from Australia to score an international pop hit with the 1966 single, "Friday on My Mind". See and hear it at: 

Harry Vanda and George Young

  • Aside from performing and recording with the Esybeats, Young co-wrote nearly all of their tracks. Early top 10 hits on the Australian singles chart for the Easybeats were co-written by Young with band mate Stevie Wright: "She's So Fine", "Wedding Ring", "Women (Make You Feel Alright)", "Come and See Her", "I'll Make You Happy", and "Sorry". 

  • Later top 10 hits were written with band mate Harry Vanda: "Friday on My Mind" and "Heaven and Hell". 

  • The Easybeats disbanded in 1969. 

  • Thereafter Young and Vanda formed a production and songwriting partnership as well as recording their own music under various names: Paintbox, Tramp, Eddie Avana, Moondance, Haffy's Whiskey Sour, and Band of Hope. They also worked with Young's elder brother Alex in Grapefruit, a name suggested by John Lennon. 

  • Young and Vanda returned to Sydney in 1973 where they worked for Ted Albert, at his Albert Productions recording studio to become the in house producers. They also assisted the rock group formed by George’s younger (ha ha) brothers, Malcolm and Angus: AC/DC, a name suggested by their sister Margaret from her sewing machine. They had no idea it was also a sexual reference, believing that the association with high voltage electricity suited their style of music. 

  • With Harry Vanda he co-produced AC/DC's early albums, T.N.T. (1975), High Voltage (1976), Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976), Let There Be Rock (1977) and Powerage (1978). Young briefly played as AC/DC's bass guitarist for a short stint, early in their career. He produced AC/DC's 2000 album, Stiff Upper Lip. Malcolm was replaced in the group by their nephew, Stevie Young, in 2014. 

  • In mid-1976 Young formed Flash and the Pan, initially as a studio-based duo with himself on guitar, keyboards and vocals, and Vanda on guitar and keyboards. They had local top 10 hits with "Hey, St. Peter" and "Down Among the Dead Men" 

  • Vanda and Young also co-produced work for Stevie Wright, John Paul Young (no relation), the Angels and Rose Tattoo. As song writers they provided "Evie" (1974) for Wright, which was a number-one hit in Australia. They co-wrote, "Love Is in the Air" (1977), for John Paul Young, which reached No. 3 in Australia. 

  • After retiring from the music industry in the late 1990s, Young resided mainly in Portugal with his family. 

  • In 1988 Vanda  and Young were inducted into the inaugural class of the ARIA Hall of Fame. Young's brothers, Angus and Malcolm, were inducted into the hall at the same ceremony as members of AC/DC. 

  • The Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) in May 2001 conducted a survey of music industry personnel to determine, the "ten best and most significant Australian songs of the past 75 years." The survey listed "Friday on My Mind" at No. 1. 

  • At the ARIA Music Awards of 2005, the Easybeats, including Young and Vanda, were inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

  • In 2007 Australian Musician magazine selected the meeting of Vanda and Young at the Villawood migrant hostel in 1964 as the most significant event in Australian pop and rock music history. 

The Easybeats, reunited in 1986

AC/DC's Angus Young and, right, the band's producer George Young in 2006 and, bottom right, in glasses in his days with The Easybeats. 

Malcolm, George and Angus Young reunited five years ago

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