Malcolm picked up the guitar while he was still at school. He graduated quickly from acoustic to electric and picked up tips from his older brother George whenever the Easybeats returned from a tour. The salary from his work allowed Malcolm to buy more professional guitars.
Eventually Malcolm put a few small bands together. During 1971 he joined up with Australia's Velvet Underground. The Velvet Underground went through a number of line-up changes during their brief career, but were never considered good enough to make any lasting impact.
During 1973 George Young, along with his partner Harry Vanda, were working on an album under the name of the Marcus Hook Roll Band at Albert Studios. The project had begun in London as a casual, tongue-in-cheek diversion but took on a more serious aura after EMI's American division expressed interest in a full album. In the process, George and Harry recruited Malcolm and Angus as supporting players. That was the first thing Malcolm and Angus did before AC/DC.
The Marcus Hook Roll Band project had had a profound effect on Malcolm, who decided that the standard process of overdubbing tracks one by one went against his idea of how rock'n'roll ought to be made. He decided that his band wouldn't do that.
When the Velvet Underground fell apart, Malcolm determined to put together a new outfit. At first this was to be a one-guitar band, with a keyboard player being drafted to fill out the sound. But a sudden change of heart on Malcolm's part led to his decision to get in a second guitarist to play alongside with him. He turned to his brother Angus. Malcolm's new band called AC/DC rehearsed energetically, playing cover versions. The band's first gig took place in the Chequers Club in Sydney on December 31, 1973.