AC/DC's Malcolm Young is ''taking a break'' from the band due to ill health.

The 'Whole Lotta Rosie' hitmakers have confirmed the 61-year-old rhythm guitarist is suffering from a ''debilitating illness'' but insist the Australian rock group will continue to record and play live, after speculation about their future.

A statement posted on their website reads: ''After 40 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 die-hard 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 comes after singer Brian Johnson confirmed the band - also made up of Malcolm's brother Angus, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd - will head into the studio next month to work on the follow-up to their 'Black Ice' album in 2008.

He told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: ''We are definitely getting together in May in Vancouver. ''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.''

Choirboys frontman Mark Gable, who has been close friends with the band for a number of years, also revealed Malcolm is ''too sick'' to play live anymore.

He said: ''It's not just that he is unwell, it's that it is quite serious. It will constitute that he definitely won't be able to perform live. He will probably not be able to record.''