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Yngwie Johann Malmsteen (English pronunciation: /ˈɪŋveɪ ˈmɑːlmstiːn/ ING-vay MAHLM-steen; born Lars Johan Yngve Lannerbäck on June 30, 1963) is a Swedish guitarist, composer, multi-instrumentalist and bandleader. Malmsteen became notable in the mid-1980s for his technical fluency and neo-classical metal compositions, often incorporating high speed picking with harmonic minor scales, diminished scales and sweep picked arpeggios. Four of his albums, from 1984 to 1988, Rising Force, Marching Out, Trilogy, and Odyssey, ranked in the top 100 for sales.
In late 1982 Malmsteen was brought to the U.S. by Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records, who had heard a demo tape of Malmsteen's playing. 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 widely popular among guitarists during the mid 1980s, with contemporaries such as Jason Becker, Timo Tolkki, Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore becoming prominent. MacAlpine came to the neoclassical/shred field by applying his classical piano training to his guitar playing and Moore arrived at a similar style because he shared Malmsteen's major influences. 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.
After the release of War to End All Wars in 2000, singer Mark Boals left the band. Malmsteen went on tour with former Ark vocalist Jorn Lande. Due to various tensions on tour, Jorn left before the recording of Malmsteen's next album, Attack!!. 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- possibly alluded to his status as a guitarist.
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 and has a son named Antonio after Antonio Vivaldi, and they live in Miami, Florida. A noted Ferrari enthusiast, he owned a black 1985 308 GTS for 18 years before selling it on eBay, and a red 1962 250 GTO. In the mid-2000s, he gave up smoking and drinking alcohol (date: April 2007).
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 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.
Malmsteen is best known for his extremely fast shred guitar solos and Neo-classical style of playing. He favors the harmonic minor scale, and often uses diminished arpeggios and phrygian scales and draws an influence from Bach and Beethoven. In an interview, Malmsteen confessed that his regular use of harmonic minor was because in the 1980s he was trying to move away from the blues-based pentatonic scales that "everybody else was using".
Malmsteen has been a longtime user of Fender Stratocasters. His most famous Stratocaster is his 1971 blonde Strat, nicknamed "The Duck" because of its yellow color and the Donald Duck stickers on the body. He also has a signature Stratocaster. It comes in a Vintage White finish with a maple neck and either a maple or rosewood fretboard. Every fret is scalloped.
He is an avid fan of Marshall amplifiers. He has been in magazine ads where he has been quoted as saying "I'd rather pay for a Marshall than play anything else for free."
In the mid to late 80s Malmsteen endorsed Schecter guitars which produced multiple custom models with Strat style bodies and reversed Fender headstocks for him.