Malcolm Young, songwriter and rhythm guitarist for the Australian band AC/DC, was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 61. But his life was as full of music at its end as it was in its prime.
Over the past few weeks, we have all been guilty of spending an awful lot of time sat on the sofa, with tea to one side and the remote on the other, feet up and eyes braced for any spectacle. And that spectacle is of course the Olympics, where champion athletes seek to perfect their chosen discipline.
It can sometimes feel that those extraordinary athletes are a different species to us sat at home: able to run faster, jump higher, swim for longer and even now skateboard better. They seem perfect, immune, immortal. And other programs which shine through the TV can also make us feel the same way: that the actors, singers, presenters and models can’t be affected by illnesses and aches that affect us.
Well they really can, especially when it comes to something as common as dementia. 850,000 people live with dementia in the UK today, which accounts for about 1 in 6 people over the age of 80. In this blog post we wanted to highlight some of the people, famous from our screens and magazines, who have been diagnosed with dementia, and how they have managed it, often in the public eye.
Some of the people who are a key part of our work here at Music for my Mind are the musicians who have created the music we use, and in some cases need it more than most. Malcolm Young, songwriter and rhythm guitarist for the Australian band AC/DC, was diagnosed with dementia sometime in 2014 at the age of 61. The condition had been evident for some years, with Young rehearsing songs he had written constantly before performances just to remember how they went.
His diagnosis forced him to stop performing – that is, stop performing live. He continued to compose riffs and snippets of music, his brother Angus collecting up what he wrote and would “fill things in to see if we had a song”. Angus reported to NME that his brother “still got a great kick if I played him guitar. He would try to tap his foot” – the music never left him, even if his memory did. Angus continued to play him music, from things he had written to classic rock favourites even to some new blues by The Rolling Stones, released in 2016. Malcolm’s diagnosis was always late stage, and he died in 2017. But his life was as full of music at its end as it was in its prime, largely due to the musical care of his brother.
For those of us without Grammy Award winning brothers, this level of musical care is hard to come by. Music for my Mind seeks to create personalised music playlists for all people living with dementia, from the famous rock stars to the sofa-bound Olympic spectators. You can support our work and help us develop our product further by using our Playlist Creation App and lettings us know what you think! Just click the button below!