Following the rumours that broke earlier this week that AC/DC were set to announce their retirement, the first official statement from the legendary Aussie rock band has arrived to clear away the speculation but also some very sad news.

A statement posted on the official AC/DC Facebook overnight reads:

“After forty years of life dedicated to AC/DC, guitarist and founding member Malcolm Young is taking a break from the band due to ill health. Malcolm would like to thank the group’s diehard legions of fans worldwide for their never-ending love and support.

In light of this news, AC/DC asks that Malcolm and his family’s privacy be respected during this time. The band will continue to make music.”

The statement follows AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson telling UK publication The Telegraph that the band plans to begin recording the follow-up to 2008’s Black Ice, despite Malcolm Young’s poor health and now-confirmed retirement.

“We are definitely getting together in May in Vancouver,” Johnson says. “We’re going to pick up some guitars, have a plonk, and see if anybody has got any tunes or ideas. If anything happens, we’ll record it.”

As for founding member and rhythm guitarist, Angus Snr, affecting the band’s future plans for a 40th Anniversary world tour – playing 40 gigs in 40 venues – Johnson said: “I wouldn’t like to say anything either way about the future.”

“I’m not ruling anything out. One of the boys has a debilitating illness, but I don’t want to say too much about it. He is very proud and private, a wonderful chap. We’ve been pals for 35 years and I look up to him very much.”

Rumours of an AC/DC split and Malcolm Young’s sickness first spread when an anonymous source named ‘Thunderstruck’ told Perth radio 6PR that “Malcolm Young has moved himself and his family back to Australia, he’s very, very ill, and AC/DC may be history.” Those comments were backed by entertainment commentator Peter Ford telling 3AW, “we may never hear them perform or record ever again.”

Meanwhile Mark Gable, frontman for fellow Aussie rockers Choirboys, confirmed that Young’s illness meant that the 61-year-old guitarist was unable to perform or record anymore, according to Sydney Morning Herald. Meanwhile Darryl Mason, an Australian journalist and close friend of the band, wrote a lengthy blog post detailing Malcolm Young’s ailing condition.

“AC/DC is such a tight family,” says Johnson in his Telegraph interview. “We’ve stuck to our guns through the Eighties and Nineties when people were saying we should change our clothes and our style. But we didn’t and people got it that we are the real deal.”

Malcolm Young recently beat out his younger, school outfit-wearing sibling Angus in a peer-voted poll of Australia’s 25 Best Guitarists, praised by The Rubens’ Zaac Margin as “one of the most under-rated guitar players of all time, and definitely one of the best rhythm players, up there with Keith Richards.”