Heavy rock giants AC/DC have vowed to carry on making music, but confirmed ill guitarist Malcolm Young is "taking a break" from the line-up.
News of Scottish-born Young's ill health emerged earlier this week, prompting speculation the Australian-based group were to call it a day.
One of Young's friends, Choirboys frontman Mark Gable, said in a radio interview that the 61-year-old musician was too ill to play live and unlikely to record again.
The group confirmed they would continue in a message posted on their website but there has been no confirmation of the nature of his illness.
It read: "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 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 band has previously survived the death of its singer when Bon Scott died in 1980 after a night of heavy drinking in London, to be replaced by Brian Johnson, who has remained as vocalist ever since.
Young, who emigrated from Scotland to Australia at the age of 10 with his family, formed AC/DC in 1973 with his younger brother Angus, who has famously dressed as a schoolboy onstage for many years.
The band has been a huge draw on the rock circuit for decades, creating anthems such as Highway To Hell and Back In Black although they have tended to have album rather than single success. Their songs were used as the soundtrack for the movie Iron Man 2.
AC/DC's albums have been few and far between in recent years and their most recent release, 2008 chart-topper Black Ice, was only their third album since 1990.
Singer Johnson spoke briefly yesterday but was unable to give any guarantees about what would happen although he said they planned to meet up to rehearse.
He said: "I wouldn't like to say anything either way about the future."
Johnson added: "It's all up in the air at the moment."