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Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen is arguably the most technically accomplished hard rock guitarist to emerge during the '80s. Combining a dazzlingtechnique honed over years of obsessive practice with a love for such classical composers as Bach, Beethoven, and Paganini, Malmsteen'sdistinctively Baroque, gothic compositional style and lightning-fast arpeggiated solos rewrote the book on heavy metal guitar. His largelyinstrumental debut album, Rising Force, immediately upped the ante for aspiring hard rock guitarists and provided the major catalyst for the'80s guitar phenomenon known as "shredding," in which ...read more

Yngwie Malmsteen is arguably the most technically accomplished hard rock guitarist to emerge during the '80s. Combining a dazzlingtechnique honed over years of obsessive practice with a love for such classical composers as Bach, Beethoven, and Paganini, Malmsteen'sdistinctively Baroque, gothic compositional style and lightning-fast arpeggiated solos rewrote the book on heavy metal guitar. His largelyinstrumental debut album, Rising Force, immediately upped the ante for aspiring hard rock guitarists and provided the major catalyst for the'80s guitar phenomenon known as "shredding," in which the music's main focus was on impossibly fast, demanding licks rather thansongwriting. Malmsteen released a series of albums over the course of the '80s that, aside from slight differences in approach andexecution, were strongly similar to Rising Force, and critics charged him with showing little artistic progression. He was also reviled as anegotist whose emphasis on blazing technique ultimately made for boring, mechanical, masturbatory music with no room for subtlety oremotion. Malmsteen responded by insisting that since he was already playing music he loved, he had no desire to develop any further, andthat his love did come through in his playing. He also vehemently insisted that it was his imitators, not him, who reduced songwriting andcomposition to merely generic vehicles to show off the guitar player's amazing technique. Toward the end of the decade, Malmsteen fell outof favor with metal audiences, and even some of his musician fan base seemed to tire of him and the incredible amount of practice it wouldtake for them to emulate him. Following a series of personal setbacks, tragedies, and even injuries, Malmsteen eventually resurfaced onsmall, independent labels and then recorded at a prolific, rapid pace, continuing to play the music he loved in his patented neo-classicalstyle.

Yngwie (pronounced "ING-vay") Malmsteen was born Lars Johann Yngwie Lannerback in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1963, later adopting hismother's maiden name following his parents' divorce. He was an unruly child, and his mother tried without initial success to interest him inmusic as an outlet. However, when seven-year-old Yngwie saw a television special on the death of Jimi Hendrix featuring live performancefootage of Hendrix setting his guitar on fire, he became obsessed with the guitar, learning to play the music of both Hendrix and favoritesDeep Purple. Through Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's use of diatonic minor scales over simple blues riffs, Malmsteen was led towardclassical music, and his sister exposed him to composers like Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi, and Mozart. He spent hours practicing obsessivelyuntil his fingers bled, and by age ten, his mother allowed him to stay home from school to develop his musical talents, particularly since hewas considered a behavioral nightmare. Also at age ten, Malmsteen became enamored of the music of 19th century violinist/composerNiccolo Paganini, as well as Paganini's flamboyant style and wild-man image; this would provide the blueprint for Malmsteen's synthesis ofclassical music and rock. By the time he was 18, Malmsteen was playing around Sweden with various bands attempting to find an audiencefor his technically staggering instrumental explorations, but most listeners preferred more accessible pop music; frustrated, Malmsteensent demo tapes to record companies overseas. When Mike Varney, president of Shrapnel Records -- a label synonymous with the term"shredder" -- heard Malmsteen's tape, he invited the guitarist to come to the United States and join the band Steeler in 1981.

Steeler recorded one album with Malmsteen on guitar, but dissatisfied with the band's rather generic style, Malmsteen moved on to thegroup Alcatrazz, whose Deep Purple and Rainbow influences better suited the guitarist's style. Still not quite satisfied, Malmsteen formedhis own band, Rising Force, with longtime friend and keyboardist Jens Johansson. The new band's first album, also called Rising Force, wasreleased in 1984; it was a largely instrumental affair spotlighting Malmsteen's incendiary guitar work and Johansson's nearly equallydeveloped technique. The album was an immediate sensation in guitar circles, winning countless reader's polls in guitar magazines,reaching number 60 on Billboard's album chart (no mean feat for an instrumental album), and receiving a Grammy nomination for Best RockInstrumental Performance. Malmsteen's subsequent albums, Marching Out and Trilogy, also sold quite well and consolidated his reputationand influence as a composer as well as a soloist. However, on June 22, 1987, a speeding Malmsteen crashed his Jaguar into a tree; inbreaking the steering wheel with his head, he received a blood clot in his brain that nearly killed him and extensively damaged the nervesleading to his picking hand. In the course of recovery, he learned that his mother had died and that his manager had swindled him out of hisearnings. Undaunted, Malmsteen regained the use of his hand and recorded Odyssey, his most accessible, radio-friendly collection to date;the single "Heaven Tonight" widened his audience beyond a devoted core of guitar fans and helped push the album into Billboard's Top 40.Following a world tour including the then-Soviet Union, the Rising Force unit disbanded and Malmsteen formed a new band in his nativeSweden for 1990's Eclipse. The album was a success in Europe and Japan, but stiffed in the U.S. without much promotion.

An angry Malmsteen left PolyGram and, prior to the release of 1992's Fire and Ice, he was married to and divorced from a Swedish popsinger. Fire and Ice debuted at number one on the Japanese charts, and Malmsteen toured the world again. However, disaster struckfrequently over the next two years. Hurricane Andrew destroyed Malmsteen's Miami property; his manager of four years died of a heartattack; Elektra dropped him from their roster; a freak accident left the guitarist with a broken hand, in addition to frequent bouts of tendinitiscaused by his lightning technique; and in August 1993, Malmsteen's future mother-in-law, opposed to his engagement to her daughter, hadhim falsely arrested for holding the woman hostage with a gun. The charges were quickly dropped, and Malmsteen secured a deal with theJapanese label Pony Canyon after his hand had healed completely. He returned to recording with a vengeance, releasing The Seventh Signin 1994, as well as two mini-albums (Power and Glory and I Can't Wait), and then Magnum Opus in 1995 and the all-covers albumInspiration in 1996.

After several years in near obscurity, Malmsteen returned to the headlines in 2002, after a fellow airline passenger threw water on him afterhe allegedly made a slanderous comment about homosexuals. This incensed Malmsteen, who had to be escorted away by security, all thewhile screaming to the passenger that she had "unleashed the f*cking fury." This stint proved to be so popular in revitalizing his career thathis comeback album in 2005 appropriated the phrases as its title. While his popularity has largely faded in the U.S. due to a backlashagainst the excesses of '80s shredders, Malmsteen still finds audiences in Europe and is more popular in Japan and Asia than ever. Instru-Mental was released in February 2007. « hide

Similar Bands: Jason Becker, Joe Stump, Alcatrazz, Marty Friedman, Galneryus

LPs
Spellbound
12/05/2012

2.7
20 Votes
Relentless
2010

2.9
34 Votes
Angels of Love
2009

3.2
20 Votes
Perpetual Flame
2008

3.2
61 Votes
Unleash The Fury
2005

3.2
60 Votes
Attack!!
2003

3.2
50 Votes
War to End All Wars
2000

2.6
38 Votes
Alchemy
1999

3.4
41 Votes
Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra
1998

3.5
39 Votes
Facing the Animal
1997

3.5
35 Votes
Magnum Opus
1995

3.2
38 Votes
The Seventh Sign
1994

3.7
44 Votes
Fire & Ice
1992

3.5
65 Votes
Eclipse
1990

3.6
48 Votes
Odyssey
1989

3.8
92 Votes
Trilogy
1986

3.9
128 Votes
Marching Out
1985

4
105 Votes
Rising Force
1984

4.1
273 Votes
Live Albums
Double Live!
1998

3.1
9 Votes
Trial by Fire: Live in Leningrad
1989

3.8
28 Votes
Compilations
High Impact
2009

3.1
9 Votes
20th Century Masters
2005

3.3
2 Votes
The Best Of: 1990-1999
2000

3.6
7 Votes
Inspiration
1996

3.4
40 Votes
The Yngwie Malmsteen Collection
1991

3.9
22 Votes

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