Yngwie Johann Malmsteen (born June 30, 1963) is a Swedish guitarist, composer, multi-instrumentalist and bandleader. Malmsteen became known for his neo-classical playing approach in heavy metal music which became a new musical style in the early 1980s. He is considered by many to be one of the most technically gifted rock guitarists of all time and a pioneer of shred guitar.
Malmsteen was born Lars Johan Yngve Lannerbäck in Stockholm, Sweden, as the third child of a musically-inclined family. At age seven, he saw a television news report on the death of Jimi Hendrix, an event which had a profound impact on his musical path. Malmsteen has later stated that Hendrix had no musical impact on him, but on September 18, 1970 he saw a TV special of Hendrix, where he smashed and burned his guitar, and Malmsteen thought: "this is really cool". To quote his official website, "The day Jimi Hendrix died, the guitar-playing Yngwie was born". At the age of 10 he took his mother's maiden name Malmsten as his surname, slightly changed it to Malmsteen, and Anglicised his given name Yngve to "Yngwie". Yngwie also created his first band "Track On Earth" at the age of 10, consisting of himself and a friend from school on drums (Armin). Malmsteen was a teenager when he first encountered the music of the 19th century violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini, whom he cites as his biggest classical music influence. Ritchie Blackmore and Uli Jon Roth are also cited as being significant influences, as is Brian May of Queen. He played featuring Denim And Leather song with Saxon during The Eagle Has Landed part II tour.
In late 1982, Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records, who had heard a demo tape of Malmsteen's playing, brought Malmsteen to the U.S. He had brief engagements with Steeler, for their self-titled album of 1983, then Graham Bonnet's Alcatrazz, for their 1983 debut No Parole from Rock 'n' Roll, and the 1984 live album Live Sentence. Malmsteen released his first solo album Rising Force in 1984, which featured Barrie Barlow of Jethro Tull on drums. His album was really meant to be an instrumental side-project of Alcatrazz, but it contained vocals, and Malmsteen left Alcatrazz soon after the release of Rising Force.
Rising Force won the Guitar Player Magazine's award for Best Rock Album and was also nominated for a Grammy for 'Best Rock Instrumental', achieving #60 on the Billboard album chart. Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force (as his band was thereafter known) next released Marching Out (1985). Jeff Scott Soto filled vocal duties on these initial albums. His third album, Trilogy, featuring the vocals of Mark Boals, was released in 1986. In 1987, another singer, former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner joined his band. That year, Malmsteen was in a serious car accident, smashing his Jaguar E-Type into a tree and putting him in a coma for a week. Nerve damage to his right hand was reported. During his time in the hospital, Malmsteen's mother died from cancer. In the summer of 1988 he released his fourth album, Odyssey. Odyssey would be his biggest hit album, mainly because of its first single "Heaven Tonight". Shows in Russia during the Odyssey tour were recorded, and released in 1989 as his fifth album Trial By Fire: Live in Leningrad.
Malmsteen's "Neo-classical" style of metal became popular among some guitarists during the mid 1980s, with contemporaries such as Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore becoming prominent. In late 1988, Malmsteen's signature Fender Stratocaster guitar was released, making him and Eric Clapton the first artists to be honored by Fender.
In the early 1990s, Malmsteen released the albums Eclipse (1990), The Yngwie Malmsteen Collection (1991), Fire and Ice (1992) and The Seventh Sign (1994). Despite his early success, and continuous success in Europe and Asia, by the early 1990s 1980s heavy metal styles such as neoclassical metal and lengthy, virtuoso shred guitar solos had become unfashionable in the US.
In 1993, Malmsteen's future mother-in-law, opposed to his engagement to her daughter, had him falsely arrested for holding the woman hostage with a gun. The charges were quickly dropped. Malmsteen continued to record and release albums under the Japanese record label Pony Canyon, and maintained a devoted following from some fans in Europe and Japan, and to a lesser extent in the USA. In 2000, he once again acquired a contract with a US record label, Spitfire, and released his 1990s catalog into the US market for the first time, including what he regards as his masterpiece, Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra, recorded with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague.
In the mid 1990's Malmsteen went on to release the albums Magnum Opus (1995), Inspiration (1996) Facing the Animal (1997), Double LIVE! (1998) and Alchemy (1999). In 1996, Malmsteen joined forces with former band members Jeff Scott Soto and Marcel Jacob on the Human Clay album where he played lead guitar on the track Jealousy
After the release of War to End All Wars in 2000, singer Mark Boals left the band. He was replaced by former Rainbow vocalist Doogie White. White's vocals were well received by fans. In 2003, Malmsteen joined Joe Satriani and Steve Vai as part of the G3 supergroup. Malmsteen made two guest appearances on keyboardist Derek Sherinian's albums Black Utopia (2003), and Blood of the Snake (2006) where Malmsteen is heard on the same tracks as Al Di Meola and Zakk Wylde. In 2004, Malmsteen made two cameo appearances on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.
Malmsteen released Unleash the Fury in 2005. (This title may be a reference to an audio recording that supposedly captured Malmsteen's immoderate response to a flight attendant who spilled a beverage on him. The recording found popularity in filesharing networks as an example of the absurd behavior of celebrities.) He is married to April (Ebru Solmaz, born in Istanbul, Turkey) and has a son named Antonio after Antonio Vivaldi, and they live in Miami, Florida. A noted Ferrari enthusiast, Malmsteen owned a black 1985 308 GTS for 18 years before selling it on eBay, and a red 1962 250 GTO. In 2007, Malmsteen was honored in the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II. Players can receive the "Yngwie Malmsteen" award by hitting 1000 or more notes in succession. February 2008 saw the replacement of singer Doogie White with former Iced Earth and Judas Priest and current Beyond Fear singer Tim "Ripper" Owens, with whom Malmsteen had once recorded a cover of Ozzy Osbourne's song "Mr. Crowley", for the 2000 Osbourne tribute album Bat Head Soup: A Tribute to Ozzy. The first Malmsteen album to feature Owens is titled Perpetual Flame and was released on October 14. On November 25, 2008, Malmsteen had three of his songs ("Caprici Di Diablo", "Damnation Game", and "Red Devil") released as downloadable content for the video games Rock Band and Rock Band 2. In 2008 Malmsteen was a special guest on the VH1 Classic show "That Metal Show". In the 10th of March 2009, Malmsteen's label Rising Force has launched his new release Angels of Love, an instrumental album which features acoustic arrangements of some of his best-known ballads.
In August 2009, Time magazine named Malmsteen #9 on its list of the 10 best electric guitar players of all-time. Malmsteen recently released another album compilation entitled High Impact on December 8, 2009.
On November 23, 2010 Relentless was released, the second album to feature Tim "Ripper" Owens on vocals. The US version features a remake of "Arpeggios From Hell" as a bonus track. Yngwie appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon along with Dana Carvey on February 3, 2011 to promote his album.
TECHNIQUE AND STYLE
Malmsteen is known for his technical fluency and neo-classical metal compositions, often incorporating high speed picking and sweep picked arpeggios with harmonic minor and phrygian scales, and diminished arpeggios. He is often considered one of the most talented rock guitarists of all time and is considered to be a pioneer of shred guitar.
Malmsteen has been a longtime user of Fender Stratocasters. His most famous Stratocaster is his 1972 blonde Strat, nicknamed "The Duck" because of its yellow finish and the Donald Duck stickers on the body. An alternative nickname for this guitar is "Play Loud" due to a sticker on the upper horn of the guitar. Fender made 100 replica copies of this guitar and marketed it as the "Play Loud Guitar". He also has a signature Stratocaster. It comes in a Vintage White finish with a maple neck, either a maple or rosewood fretboard with scalloped frets and, from 2010, Seymour Duncan STK-S10 YJM "Fury" Model pickups. There is also a signature YJM100 Marshall amplifier, based on the '1959' amplifier range.
Yngwie has stated that he prefers Stratocasters from the period of 1968-1972; he claims that the bigger headstock on these generates more sustain. Yngwie customizes his guitars by fitting a brass nut, removing the middle string tree and scalloping the fretboard. Yngwie previously disconnected the tone controls on his guitars but has said that he no longer does this.
Yngwie has previously used DiMarzio pickups - most notably the HS3 and the HS4 (Formerly known as the YJM). Yngwie would use an HS3 in the bridge and the HS4 in the middle and neck positions.
In his earlier recordings, Yngwie is using an HS3 in the neck and bridge and a disconnected stock fender in the middle.