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Yngwie J. Malmsteen

Yngwie J. Malmsteen (June 30, 1963- ) is a guitarist from Sweden who achieved some acclaim in the 1980s due to his technical proficiency and fusion of classical elements with heavy rock guitar.

Born into a musical family in Stockholm on June 30, 1963, Malmsteen was exposed to classical music from an early age, and began playing guitar at the age of nine. Malmsteen was in his teens when he first encountered the music of the 19th-century violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini, whom he cites as his biggest classical influence. Malmsteen transcribed and mastered these pieces on guitar, which was concurrent with the development of a prodigious technical fluency, previously unknown in the rock guitar world.

In 1983 he was brought to the USA by Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records[?] who had heard a demo tape of Malmsteen's playing. After brief engagements with the bands Steeler and Alcatrazz, Malmsteen released two solo albums, "Rising Force" (winner of Guitar Player Magazine[?]'s Best Rock Album and nominated for a 1984 Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental) which achieved the impressive position of #60 on the Billboard album chart[?], and the less successful "Marching Out" (1985).

Malmsteen's style was dubbed "Neoclassical" and it became somewhat popular during the mid 1980s, with notable imitators such as Paul Gilbert, Tony Macalpine[?] and Vinnie Moore (who provided the guitar parts for Michael J Fox[?]'s "Back to the Future" movie). The imitation Malmsteen's style spawned was not unlike what Yngwie himself did did when he heavily borrowed from the musical ideas of Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Uli Roth in his early years. Malmsteen's signature style did not emerge in a vaccum and would not have been what it is without Blackmore and Roth. One misunderstanding is that Malmsteen was the first one to integrate classical music with rockscene. This is not the case. Uli Jon Roth of the famous rock group Scorpions did that in the 1970s, Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake & Palmer did that even the 60s. But Yngwie's contributions to the project of neoclassical guitar remain unique - his level of understanding of Paganini, Bach, et. al. is unparalelled in the rock world.

However, by the late 1980s the style had become unfashionable in the USA, although Malmsteen continued to have some commerical success in Europe and Asia. Although initially regarded with respect by the musical fraternity, his repeated claims of being "the greatest guitarist in history" (complete with demands that music magazines subtitle any articles about him accordingly) led to a status as a pariah in the musical world. Regardless, his sheer technical prowess remains remarkable.

In the 1990s, he continued to record and release albums under a Japanese record label, and maintained a small but devoted following 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 90s catalog into the US market for the first time - including what he regards as his masterpiece, Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra.

Solo Discography (not counting collection albums):



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