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Remembering the story of Yngwie Malmsteen, the Swedish "guitar legend"

"I played on the underground, I fell asleep with a guitar in my hands, I lived the dream of becoming a guitarist..... Every moment of my life I had a guitar in my hands. A lot of people thought I was crazy! I sacrificed a lot of things, but I can say one thing: it was worth it!"

Yngwie Malmsteen in surprising facts and profound reflections

Yngwie Malmsteen - The Swedish guitar legend, who is no longer an indispensable part of the music industry. This man has become the idol of millions! He has inspired hundreds of famous modern rock guitarists, and has earned himself a big name absolutely through honest work and perseverance.

Virtuoso, multi-instrumentalist and composer - Malmsteen is one of the founders of neoclassical metal and popularisers of the technique "Sweep.". He has been called one of the best "guitar kings" in history. Yngwie owes it all to himself. His dedication and passion for rock'n'roll is enviable....

Early years and unexpected influences

Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie was born in 1963 in Sweden to a family of a military man and an actress. Alas, shortly after his birth, his parents divorced. The boy was brought up motherand it was she who tried her best to instil in her son a love of music. It is noteworthy, but as a child Yngwie had little interest in musical instruments, and the guitar in particular... Frankly speaking - "he didn't care about all that". The fateful moment was reportage on the telly, which was showing an extravaganza. Jimi Hendrixwhen he set his guitar on fire. From then on, our little hero was sure of what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.....

"From childhood I was instilled with a love of music. I was given a violin on my fourth birthday and a guitar on my fifth. But I wasn't interested in any of that until I saw Hendrix on TV. I was inspired and amazed by the way he burned his guitar! I instantly wanted to learn how to play the guitar so I could smash it up and burn it in front of a large audience to make it look just as cool. Today that sounds extremely funny! But I was just a little kid, so that was my motivation..."

Jimi Hendrix and a burning guitar ...
Jimi Hendrix and a burning guitar.

But it wasn't just the iconic virtuoso who became a major impetus and influence in Malmsteen's life. What else inspired the future star was the following classics - such as Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach, Niccolo Paganini and "some Russian guy.".

"I was a bit disappointed by the simplicity of rock'n'roll and blues. I started listening to a lot of classical music - mostly Bach, Vivaldi... Then one day on TV - I was about 12 or 13 - they showed some Russian guy, a violinist! I don't remember his name. He played a solo: "24 Caprices" for Paganini's violin. I was completely stunned... I decided I was going to use all the arpeggios, line notes and the violin's wide vibrato. I've always been a bit of an extremist, so I decided to go all the way."

"My road crew hates me" - love Fender and Marshall

Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen

The first guitar Yngwie ever wanted was. Fender Stratocaster.

"I didn't even consider anything else. But I couldn't afford it. So I bought copies..."

The money for the first original Stratocaster came along quite a bit unexpectedly:

"When I was 12 or so, my mum wanted to repaint the house. I asked her: "How much are you going to pay the painters?". She replied, "Two grand." So I said: "Send the painters to hell! You can pay that money to me instead." So I had the money to buy a Stratocaster."

Malmsteen carried his love of the Fender through the years:

"When I became famous, almost every company in the world - the same Gibson - wrote to me, 'Whatever guitar you want, we'll make it for you.' I'd say to them, 'No, thanks. I'd rather pay for a Fender."

As a result, Fender repaid its star fan:

"Before that, Fender had never given anybody a guitar for free. They didn't give guitars to Beck, Clapton... I was the first guy to get a guitar from Fender for free, and that's one. And secondly, I was the first guy to get a name model! I was very honoured by that, actually. So my stubbornness paid off..."

Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen

Besides Fender, Yngwie loves one other brand, and that's Marshall.

"If you went up into space and looked down at Earth, you would see only two man-made objects: the Great Wall of China and my 'Marshall Wall'. My road crew hates me! Seriously. But I adore Marshall, and there's nothing I can do about it..."

Moving to America

Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen

His playing technique didn't appear overnight. Malmsteen admits that as a child he played in a band with guys who were 25 years old!

"I played on the underground, I fell asleep with a guitar in my hands, I lived the dream of becoming a guitarist... Every moment of my life I had a guitar in my hands. A lot of people thought I was crazy! I sacrificed a lot of things, but I can say one thing: it was worth it!"

Yngwie started out small, but ended up being on top of:

"When I first came from Sweden to America in 1982, I played in a very mediocre Los Angeles band called Steeler. I remember 30 people came to our first gig, but when we played again a week later, and I was looking out the dressing room window onto the street, there was a queue around the block! I asked the bartender, "Hey, who's playing in town tonight?" And the guy replied, "You." That was after one week in America... It was fucking crazy and awesome!"

"Exceeded my own expectations."

Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen

Speaking of music, the guitarist emphasises:

"I don't have any rules when it comes to writing instrumental guitar music. More than anything, I love the spontaneous moments when I'm improvising and something just comes out and I'm like, 'That's cool!' I could write a country style song right now, for example. I know how to do it. I have the knowledge to do it. But it's not the most magical moment for me..."

Looking back, Yngwie says with a smile:

"The funny thing is that I've probably exceeded my expectations a thousand times over. Even in my wildest dreams, I couldn't have imagined that this would happen - that 40 years later I would be driving around in my own car and telling people about my journey..."

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