Books & Literature

Book Review: Friday On My Mind: The Life of George Young, by Jeff Apter

BIOGRAPHY: Pop star, mentor and icon, George Young, was one of the most important figures in Australian pop music history.

The long overdue account of one half of Australia’s most prolific musical partnerships.

Jeff Apter is no stranger to Aussie rock ‘n’ roll. He was a staff member for Rolling Stone Magazine and has authored (or co-authored) a significant number of volumes covering a wide range of iconic artists, both Australian and international.

Most recently, he has been the biographer of AC/DC’s most powerful duo, Angus and Malcolm Young – and now he has turned his literary talents to the musical elder statesman of the clan, George Young. George is most famously recognised as a founding member of The Easybeats and one half of the prolific writing team Vanda & Young, alongside former Easybeat and hostel co-resident, Harry Vanda.

Apter’s latest work begins with the journey taken by many who would become part of the emerging Australian music landscape, from the United Kingdom to Australia – landing in a residential hostel, a location which would cement the future direction of this particular Young brother. It is here that George met Harry Vanda and Stevie Wright, the voice of The Easybeats.

Over the subsequent decades, George Young (alongside Harry Vanda) would influence the Australian musical landscape. He was heavily influenced by his own desire to ensure that the impacts of his time with ‘The Easys’ was through his prolific writing and his quintessential ‘no bullshit, just the music’ approach.

Peppered throughout the tome are the names of bands & artists and their most highly-recognised and successful songs. Names like AC/DC, The Angels, Rose Tattoo and, possibly most surprisingly of all within this line-up, John Paul Young (JPY). The latter is a man who, to this day, attributes his success and continues his performance longevity, under the watchful eye of George Young.

However, this isn’t just a rock’n’roll successes and failures tale. It is also a crafted memorial to a man who treated those he worked with as family. From those who were (he would work with three of his siblings over time), to those he partnered with, in particular Ted Albert, founder of Australia’s House of Hits, and Stevie Wright, a man who George tried, unsuccessfully, to save from himself.

So, while this book is filled with surprises for both the knowing and uninitiated, the greatest surprise is left for the final chapter. It is a moving, heartfelt closing summary of a life that went, somewhat, unrecognised and yet, will live on forever in his contributions to The Great Australian Songbook.

N.B. – As an aside, this reviewer highly recommends the other two books in Jeff Apter’s unintended Young Trilogy:

Reviewed by Glen Christie

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: August 2020
RRP: $29.99

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