Yngwie Malmsteen, one of the greatest electric guitar players of all time, opened up about his tenure with Alcatrazz during a recent interview with Guitar World. According to the guitarist, he and the band’s lead singer Graham Bonnet didn’t see eye to eye, and the vocalist tried to sabotage him multiple times.
As you may recall, Yngwie Malmsteen had a brief tenure with Alcatrazz during his early career after playing with Steeler. Malmsteen not only joined the band for performances but also played on its 1983 debut studio album, ‘No Parole from Rock’ n’ Roll’ and the 1984 live record, ‘Live Sentence.’
As a young musician, the ‘Black Star’ guitarist was determined to show his presence, so he took over frontman Graham Bonnet’s leadership duties. As expected, it did not go well and the two had a fight during a show. This feud resulted in Malmsteen’s departure from the band, and he was replaced by another brilliant guitar player, Steve Vai.
Before parting ways with Alcatrazz, Malmsteen released his debut studio record named ‘Rising Force’ on 5 March 1984, which featured Jethro Tull drummer Barrie Barlow and keyboardist Jens Johansson. The album was initially intended to be an instrumental side-project of Alcatrazz, but instead, it included vocals from Jeff Scott Soto. Following the release of the album, the guitarist left the band.
During a recent interview, Yngwie Malmsteen reflected on his time with Alcatrazz and revealed that he had two conditions before joining the band. The first was to be the band’s primary songwriter, and the second was to get a new drummer. Looking back at the time, the guitarist admitted he was a bit cocky for a 19-yer-old musician.
He stressed the fact that he wrote the entire album ‘No Parole From Rock’ n’ Roll,’ which annoyed Graham Bonnet considering that he was supposed to be the bandleader. Apparently, the singer wasn’t happy with Malmsteen taking over the control of his band and attempted to sabotage the guitarist’s performances a couple of times.
During the interview, Malmsteen explained his relationship with Bonnet:
“One morning, I get a call asking me to audition for Graham Bonnet’s new band, Alcatrazz. I walk in the room and start ripping it up and they look at me like I’m crazy, again. So I tell them, ‘Okay, I’ll join on two conditions: I write the songs and we get a new drummer.’ I was setting the terms, this cocky 19-year-old kid. Crazy!
Every song, every vocal melody, everything you hear on that first album, ‘No Parole From Rock’ n’ Roll’ – I wrote that. That band was supposed to be Graham’s thing, but I totally took over and he was really pissed off. He tried to sabotage my performance a few times, but that’s a long story. It is what it is.
My first solo album, 1984’s ‘Rising Force,’ was already half-done when I was out on the road with Alcatrazz. My style of writing and playing was already very much shaped. It’s just matured now – that’s all.”
Although it’s not uncommon in newly formed bands to experience conflicts between band members, Yngwie Malmsteen was an unusual case as he had a lot of confidence for a young musician.