CAN AC/DC truly exist without their late rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young?
Many fans have been asking that question since Malcolm, firstly retired from the band, and then died in 2017 from dementia aged 64.
The question continues to ring like hells bells as Angus Young and the rest of the gang reportedly near completion of AC/DC's 17th studio album. But will it really be Acca Dacca?
Jeff Apter, the author behind the first biography to focus on the Australian rock legend, answers that question with an emphatic "no" in Malcolm Young - The Man Who Made AC/DC.
It's long been known that Malcolm was the engine room of the band, delivering crunching riffs on Highway Hell, Black In Black and T.N.T, while his younger brother Angus stole the spotlight, alongside vocalists Bon Scott and Brian Johnson, with his epic guitar solos and schoolboy-dressing antics.
But as Apter reveals, Malcolm was the beating heart of AC/DC. The boss. Its visionary.
Apter paints the story of a young working-class man, who was driven to succeed in rock'n'roll with an uncompromising obsession.
The book follows his rise from growing up as one of eight children in Glasgow and Burwood in inner-western Sydney before forming AC/DC, a band that would become Australia's greatest musical export, selling more than 200 million albums.
"To be fair, Angus, to a lot of AC/DC fans is seen as the look and persona of the band," Apter said. "The 65-year-old man in a schoolboy uniform is AC/DC, the guy with the devils horns.
"They can pull it off, but is it AC/DC without Malcolm's presence? For me, it doesn't feel right now I know the full story."
Apter had always admired AC/DC's raw power and showmanship and interviewed Angus while working at Rolling Stone 20 years ago.
But it wasn't until he was a ghost writer on Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC for former bassist Mark Evans, that Apter realised Malcolm's firm grip of control on the band and his dogged determination.
"When Mark was hired in March 1975 the band was still finding its way," he said. "They were still third on the bill to nobody on a Tuesday night in Coolangatta or Armidale, but Malcolm said, 'Just so you know, in a year we'll be in London, we'll have an international record deal and we'll be climbing our way to the top'.
"Mark [Evans] shrugged it off, 'You can't be serious?' Mark said in his book, he was exactly right. It took a year and a week."
Evans would eventually become one of several members of the band's entourage like drummer Phil Rudd and '70s manager Michael Browning to experience Malcolm's ruthless streak in the name of AC/DC.
All three were unceremoniously dumped after Malcolm questioned their commitment to the band.
Apter also writes Malcolm briefly removed himself from the band in 1988 to battle alcoholism.
"I think he was a fair boss because he saw his own shortcomings and dealt with them as he did others," Apter said. "But you wouldn't want to cross him and certainly wouldn't want to be seen by Malcolm of not giving 100 per cent because you were gone straight away."
In 2017 Apter published High Voltage: The Life of Angus Young - AC/DC's Last Man Standing.
He believes the tee-totalling, chocolate milk-loving Angus and hard-drinking Malcolm were very different characters, but shared a "wariness of outsiders" and "a clannish mindset coming from a big family and a tight family."
Apter has written more than 20 music biographies on artists such as Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns, Keith Urban, John Farnham and The Bee Gees, but for his next project he wants to follow a familiar theme. The Wollongong author hopes to complete the family trilogy by writing a biography about older brother George Young.
George, who died three weeks before Malcolm in 2017 aged 70, found fame as a guitarist in '60s band The Easybeats before forming the iconic songwriting partnership with Harry Vanda, that delivered hits like Love Is In The Air for John Paul Young and Stevie Wright's Evie.
It begs the question, has there been a more important family in the history of Australian popular music than the Youngs?
"If you look at it in strict sales and monetary terms, then no, and if you look at it in terms of musical influence, then no," Apter said.
Malcolm Young - The Man Who Made AC/DC is out now. Jeff Apter will be at Harry Hartog Booksellers in East Maitland on September 6 from 6pm to conduct a Q&A.