A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Ritchie Blackmore

“Being original doesn’t require being the first to do something. It just means being different and better.”
Adam Grant, Originals

History is always written by the winners. If you read any story about Metallica today, it more or less states how “Kill Em All” came out in 1983 and took over the world. But, we all know it wasn’t the case. Hell, it wasn’t the case with their first four albums. But, their first four albums are seen as different and a better alternative to the MTV friendly form of metal.

Black Sabbath as a band gets a lot of attention for being original and influential and so does Deep Purple. But in every band like Metallica, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, there is always a person who is more influential than the others.

Ritchie Blackmore has been instrumental in influencing guitarists and vocalists all at the same time while carrying influential bands.

It’s common knowledge the iron fist Blackmore wielded to get Ian Gillian to record the “Child In Time” ohhhs and ahhhs. Eventually the production team needed to resort to studio trickery to make it sound like Gillian was more able than he was. And guess what happened after the record came out and people heard “Child In Time”. Suddenly every young wannabe singer started practicing. In the same way Roger Bannister achieved the first four minute mile in 1954, and inspired a whole new generation of runners that they could achieve the impossible, in music, “Child In Time” in 1970, inspired singers to practice and achieve a new standard.

A 12 year old kid called Bruce Dickinson became attracted to hard rock, after hearing Deep Purple’s “Child in Time” being played in another student’s room at his private school. As a result, the first album Bruce ever bought was Deep Purple’s “In Rock”. A 19 year old unknown called Rob Halford heard “Child In Time” and started to change his vocal style.

And when Ian Gillian couldn’t deliver the vocal performances Blackmore wanted, he fired him and hired a young singer/songwriter called David Coverdale to do what Blackmore wanted. From this vocalist change, a whole new range of singers saw this as a new standard and started practicing. And just in case David Coverdale couldn’t deliver the vocals Blackmore wanted, he had another singer in bassist Glenn Hughes as back up.

But in the end, Blackmore felt frustrated with the musical constraints of Purple, so he left “Purple” to start up Rainbow with a singer called Ronnie James Dio. This change, further evolved how a front man should sound.

In the space of 10 years and three different vocalists, Ritchie Blackmore, blew the paradigm open of what a metal vocalist should sound like.

There was a Twitter post from Stevie Van Zandt that said the following;
“Let’s just say it was an awkward period for singers. For the first and last time in history, guitar players were king. Hard to believe, but both Rod Stewart and Robert Plant were thought of as sideman. Both started on salaries. Both considered disposable. Some resentment may remain.”

The guitar player ruled up until the start of the 80’s. After that, you had a bassist writing songs for Motley Crue, WASP and Iron Maiden, a singer/songwriter writing songs for Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi and Europe. In Dokken, you had the influential guitar player who couldn’t handle the name of the band however the drummer and bassist provided most of the vocal melodies. Even someone like Ted Nugent needed to be pushed by John Kalodner into a supergroup called Damn Yankees.

Yngwie Malmsteen formed Rainbow Part 2 and called it Rising Force with Jeff Scott Soto and then found commercial fame with Joe Lynn Turner (another Ritchie Blackmore find), only to let his ego get in the way of a good partnership. David Coverdale had a powerful guitarist in John Sykes with which he carried out an excellent musical conversation with, only to let him go before the release of Whitesnake’s biggest album. Because as Coverdale showed, the guitarist was no longer in power. The front man was. When Lynch went solo, he didn’t get the platinum awards he had with Dokken and Malmsteen’s only platinum award is with Joe Lynn Turner. Hell, Vince Neil was more well-known than Nikki Sixx.

From a guitarist perspective, it’s hard not to be influenced by Blackmore. He enjoyed playing the Blues, but he took it a few steps further, by making it progressive. Most of his progressive interludes are founded in the Pentatonic scale. Again, he was not the first to do it, however he did it good enough to make it commercially successful. Blackmore’s fusion of blues, rock and roll, classical and medieval Influences was so commercially successful, he more or less spawned a new style of guitar playing called Euro Rock/Metal. Blackmore’s stage persona and guitar/amp set up became a standard amongst the young 70’s hard rockers who would become superstars in the 80’s. Malmsteen modelled himself after him even up to the same stage stand.

And from a band perspective, every single guitarist at that point in time was inspired by Blackmore to find a vocalist who had similar/better talents to the vocalists Blackmore used. lf the band was started by a drummer and a bassist, they would be looking for a guitarist like Blackmore and a vocalist like Gillian, Coverdale or Dio.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Classic Album Closing Songs

Diary Of A Madman (1981)

Entries of confusion
Dear diary, I’m here to stay

What can I say, it had to be a Randy Rhoads song.  Diary shows the monster that Randy was becoming.  Despite being seen as Ozzy’s band, the star of the band is Randy Rhoads.

Diary Of A Madman is the perfect fusion of progressive metal, technical rock and sinister classical all rolled into one potent song.  As much as Sharon Osbourne tries to re-write Ozzy’s history, she can never re-write the music that was created.  The music comes from the guitar, bass and the keys, all instruments her beloved Ozzy doesn’t play.

Australian Bob Daisley as the lyricist and bassist is the unsung hero in Ozzy’s second coming.  He doesn’t even get credited as playing on the album, thanks to a spiteful Sharon Osbourne.  He was recruited from the Dio fronted Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.  How ironic, that Dio would leave Rainbow to sing for Black Sabbath, and Daisley would leave Rainbow to join the singer that Black Sabbath fired.

Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)

Mark my words believe my soul lives on
Don’t worry now that I have gone
I’ve gone beyond to seek the truth

When you know that your time is close at hand
Maybe then you’ll begin to understand
Life down there is just a strange illusion

It’s a Steve Harris composition, however the voice of Bruce Dickinson is the savior. It gave Iron Maiden the fire to break away from the New Wave of British Metal image and forge a new direction.  It made them relevant.

Iron Maiden became a household name on the back of The Number of The Beast along with it’s anthem Run To The Hills.

However the real star on this album is the closer, Hallowed Be Thy Name.  The definitive version is the live version featured on Live After Death (1985).  The tempo is increased slightly and Nicko McBrain (who replaced Clive Burr) on the drums, gives the song the fury it needs.  The song is about the last moments of a prisoner before the execution.

Who We Are (2011)

We are the young
And young at heart
The strong and the brave that are destined to start
We are the change
The world needs to see
Look in our eyes and see our belief

This is who we are
This is what I am
We have nowhere else to go
Divided we will stand

The mighty Machine Fucken Head.  It’s a Robb Flynn composition.  He should have changed the Divided We Will Stand to UNITED WE WILL STAND.  It would have fit the lyrical message of the song to a tee.  The only time we metal heads stand united as a metal show.  Apart from that, we are in a elite class of the genres we like.  I like Black Veil Brides.  Try telling that to my elite Slipknot and Mudvayne friends.  Do you get what I mean.

S.M.F (1984)

Black sheep of the family, nothing like the rest
Separate from the others, failing all their tests
Can’t they see you’re different, so hungry and so lean
You’re a walking wonder, you’re a metal machine
Look and you’ll see you’re a lot like me

You’re an S.M.F.

Any closing song that abbreviates the term Sick Mutha Fucker has my attention.  Twisted Sister was one band, that knew how to write songs for the live show.  Put that down to their 9 years of playing the club scenes before they even got a shitty independent deal.  Dee Snider was a master.

Of course the Stay Hungry album was known for the smash hits, We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock.  However the real star of the album is the ode to all of those Twisted SMF’s who supported the band.

The lyrical theme follows the same theme as We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock. It’s about metal fans versus the system and the family dynamic. This time the band is telling me, it’s okay to be different, it’s okay that I don’t fit a mold made for me.  There are others out there, that are experiencing the same and let our love of music, find us a home.

Shogun (2008)

Time has come to face all evil

It’s an epic.  The musicianship is excellent.  Trivium to me are part of the current Big 5 of metal bands, along with Machine Head (actually Machine Head to me are part of the Nineties Big 4 as well as the 2000’s Big 5), Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God and Five Finger Death Punch.

That time to face all evil came to me in 2010, however I should have faced it in 2008.  Avoiding it, only made it worse.

If you succeed in this battle
You still will lose so much more

Ain’t that the truth.  Winning a battle (albeit a court case, a street fight or a real battle) is one thing, dealing with the aftermath is another thing.

Aerials (2001)

Life is a waterfall
we’re one in the river
and one again after the fall…

life is a waterfall
we drink from the river
then we turn around and put up our walls

System Of A Down nailed it on Aerials.  They really captured their European Armenian minor key arrangements and fused it with modern metal. The music is written by guitarist and backing vocalist, Daron Malakian and the lyrics are shared between Serj Tankian and Malakian.  I got into SOAD because of the unique vocal style of Serj.  In bands, it doesn’t matter how great the music is, if the singer cannot connect with the listeners and deliver, then it’s time to find someone who can.

How true is the statement?  We flow into each day, into each routine without any effor and we could flow like that for days.  Then one day, it all changes and we are going down the waterfall.  It’s quick, it’s crazy and when we come out of it, we will flow again like we did, but we will be different.

 

The Count Of Tuscany (2009)

Could this be the end?
Is this the way I die?
Sitting here alone
No one by my side

I don’t understand
I don’t feel that I deserve this
What did I do wrong?
I just don’t understand

Dream Theater deserves a mention for this beauty.  The lyrics by Petrucci could have been better, however the last section makes up for it.  Furthermore, there is no denying the impact of the music.  I also have my own edited version, where I cut out that atmospheric 4 minute keyboard and guitar interlude.

The stars of the band have always been the guitarist and the keyboardist for me.  John Petrucci and Kevin Moore was Mark 1.  John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess is Mark 3.

The great fear in humans. Death.  There isn’t a subject on it.  Hell, there even isn’t a subject about getting old.  I know that the lyric lines quoted above are about how John Petrucci as a child, got lost on a family holiday in Italy and he was fearing for his life, in an Italian cellar with a strange-looking Christopher Lee.  The beauty of lyrics done right, means that they can also be taken in a different way.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Rudolf Schenker – Guitar World – March 1986

RUDOLF SCHENKER ON THE AESTHETICS OF HEAVY METAL GUITAR
By Bruce Nixon

The below article in italics appeared in the Guitar World March 1986 issue.  I have re-typed here and added my bits and pieces to it.

The aesthetics of heavy metal guitar?  Well, think about it.  Rudolf Schenker was intrigued.  He was sitting in a backstage dressing room, a litter of soda cans, ashtrays and half filled beer bottles on the low table in front of him, quietly noodling on his trusty black-and-gold Flying V.  He balanced the guitar on his knees and spread his arms out wide, smiling broadly, his eyes sparkling.  Already, conversation had drifted over Vs and V players, and the Scorpions’ well-known axeman had displayed a deep and interested passion for the guitar life.

That is the iconic look, Rudolf Schenker with a trusted flying V.  This issue is from March 1986.  Rudolf had been in the game for over 26 years by now.  Rock You Like A Hurricane from 1984’s Love At First Sting album was a monster hit for the Scorpions.  Winners never quit.  They persist.  They persevere.  Sure, the Scorpions had an audience in Europe and Asia, but it wasn’t until 1984 that they broke through in the US.

“The aesthetics of heavy metal guitar…” His accent was middling thick with a slightly skewered command of idiom, but it didn’t set in the way of his enthusiasm. The idea had captured his attention, in any case.  

“I know of several different kinds of players,” he said. “There is Van Halen, very technical and very creative.  Him I like very much, because he has put new things into guitar playing.  He is very good rhythm-wise. And the other I like very much is my brother Michael.”  

This, of course, referring to Michael Schenker, the Scorpions’ original lead guitarist, now fronting his own band.

“He can play melodically—but he puts the three parts of the guitar together, the melodic, the technique and the feel. Some have more technical skill, but in my brother, all three parts are equal.  He has feel, but he keeps the melody inside and the exact rhythm inside.”

The impact of Edward Van Halen to rock music is immense.  Back in 1986, it was still at a level of what he brought to the guitar playing circles and how an expectation was made that any band with desires to make it, had to have a guitar hero.  Of course afterwards, EVH would branch out into guitars, amps and gear.

I am the youngest of three boys, so to hear Rudolf talk about his younger brother in such high regard, is cool.  His words ring true.  Michael Schenker was a monster player.  UFO couldn’t contain him.  Their best works happened when Michael Schenker was in the band.  (We will forget about the crappy 90’s reunion album and the bad Vinnie Moore reincarnation, even though i am a fan of Vinnie Moore as well).  His solo work in the eighties as part of MSG and McAuley Schenker Group was a stand out as well.

Going back to March 1986, Rudolf’s summation of his brothers ability made me curious to find out more about Michael Schenker.  This is artists promoting other artists.  I don’t believe that form of promotion happens these days anymore?  Growing up in Australia, the nineties brought a certain elitism ideal to certain local scenes, where each band only looked out for themselves as they where worried that another band might take their fans.  What artists failed to realise is that fans of music always like more than one band.  That is how fan bases are made, a common love of music across different bands.

“You see, metal is a new style.  Heavy rock is based on guitar and drums together.  If you want aesthetics, when you go looking for a good guitar player, you will find them in heavy rock.  This is a place where the guitar player has the most openings.  Look at Rick Springfield—his guitar player is good, but the music is based on the singer.  In heavy rock, the guitar player has more parts than the singer has.  In heavy metal, the players are young and fresh, too, open to new styles and new sounds, new everything!  Whole roads are open to them.  We all used to copy Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but bands don’t do that anymore.”

Bands started to copy their peers.

Motley Crue hit the LA scene in 1980 with a mix of Seventies Punk, Americana Rock / Pop and British Classic Rock.  Bands like Poison, Warrant, Bullet Boys and Tuff came out influenced by bands like Motley Crue and Ratt.

Bon Jovi came out influenced by Seventies Classic Rock, Bruce Springsteen and the New Jersey keyboard driven pop scene.  Then you had every band writing songs in a pop metal vein.

Van Halen came out influenced by the English Blues Rock and Americana Rock/Pop.  Name me one band in the eighties that didn’t try to sound like them.

Def Leppard wanted to record an album that mixed Queen style pop harmonies with the NWOBM sound they were involved in.  They achieved that with Pyromania and perfected it on Hysteria, spawning thousands of imitators.  

Guitar players became the ones that got the attention as well.  The band dynamic had evolved.  It started in the Seventies and continued with the Hard Rock / Glam Rock movement in the Eighties.

“I like to listen to heavy rock very much,” he added. “Jimmy Page, in his good days, was so good.  Now, Jeff Beck has always been good, and I like his solo album very much.  I hear Malmsteen—he s very fast, very technical, much into classical.  Take Ritchie Blackmore—of course, he is from the older generation of players, but he doesn’t get older  in his sound.  Beck is more for older people these days.  Ritchie is one of those guys who has old and young kids in his audience.  He has that fresh energy.”

Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Rainbow is one guitarist that appealed to both old and young guitarist.  The older crowd that is into the blues rock style loved what Blackmore did with it, the middle-aged got the best of both worlds and the younger crowds maybe didn’t appreciate the blues rock vibe of Blackmore however they related to his classical technicality that fit perfectly with the rise of the Eighties shred.  That is where Michael Schenker also comes into the picture.  He also accommodated both audiences.

He suggested that the greatest heavy rock players were European-except for Jimi Hendrix and Leslie West.  America has not been highly nourishing soil for metal guitarists.  In metal, at least.  Europeans maintain more of a purists approach to the genre.  

“I think European guitarists have been more original.” he remarked matter-of-factly.  Page—Beck—Clapton- Ritchie—my brother. In heavy rock. English players, especially, have had a more original feel. In coming from Germany, when I watch television over here, I see everything is made for posing—the advertisements and stuff.  In Europe, people are more natural, they are relaxed.  They don’t pay as  much attention to those things. Maybe the guitar players are like that, too.”

There is that name again Jimi Hendrix and who the hell is Leslie West.  It was years later that i heard Mississippi Queen, if you know what I mean.

By 1986, America had a decent amount of heavy rock players.  Going back to the Seventies, you had players like Ted Nugent, Ace Frehley, Steve Lukather, Neal Schon and Eddie Van Halen.  By the Eighties you had players like Randy Rhoads, Warren DeMartini and George Lynch join the ranks.

It was hard to come up with any more American guitarists who fit the bill.  At the mention of Randy Rhoads, Schenker nodded enthusiastically, and then shook his head sadly.

If it wasn’t for Randy Rhoads, I wouldn’t have been able to play the way I play.  His dedication and precision on the two Ozzy albums will be forever remembered.

“Blues is the basis of all good guitar playing in this style of music,” Schenker concluded.  The Americans are not as bluesy as the English are.  Clapton, Beck, Page—they’re all influenced by the blues.  English players found the right combination for bringing blues and modern rock together.”

Artists speaking their minds.  If you agree with Rudolf’s point of view or not, one thing is clear, he is not afraid to get it out there.  Maybe it is that famed German arrogance, or maybe it is truth.

I honestly believe that music captured in its purest form is magical.  The  purest form is when music is written without the thoughts of profits in minds.  In the late sixties and early seventies, this is what music was.  It was pure.  It wasn’t tainted by Wall Street, by profit margins and balance sheets.

According to his guitar technician, Vince Flaxington, Rudolf Schenker keeps it simple. The Scorpions’ veteran rhythm player carries six Flying Vs on the road, his favorite of the bunch being a black and white 1964 model that his brother gave him about a year or so ago; he also likes the black and gold model, an ’82 reissue, while the remaining four are strictly backups.  

Schenker is a Flying V fanatic, having forty-odd variations of the instrument at home, about a third of which are original issue models.  Indeed, he doesn’t own anything else. He saw his first V in the hands of Johnny Winter and became an instant convert to its sleek good looks.  The best one he ever had, he said, went with his brother when Michael Schenker left the Scorps.  His guitar tech says every one is stock, Rudolf uses only Gibson pickups and refuses to let anyone alter his beloved Vs.  Not even with Strap-Loks.

Onstage, the guitarist uses three 50-watt Marshall heads that drive six 4 x 12 cabinets.  The Marshalls are “quite old”—a ’67, a 1970, and a 1980, all stock.  The volume is set at 9; the EQ knobs are all full-tilt.  His sole effect is a Vox wah-wah, one of the first made, although Schenker only uses it for about five numbers in the current set.  The cabinets also are stock.  He uses a Nady wireless system. 

“His tone is like broken glass,” Flaxington grinned. “That’s the way he wants it—sharp, clear and raunchy.”

Simply and effective set up.  He is a purest.  He didn’t go searching for that sound the way others did.  He just plugged in and let it rip.

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Music

Guitar World – January 1986 – Part 2 – Dave Meniketti Speaks

Dave Meniketti shoots his mouth off.

That is the title of the segment by Bob Grossweiner.  And boy doesn’t he just do that.  It’s very hard to find anyone these days that is so honest in their views of other contemporary musicians.  You see everyone wants to be loved, so in order to be loved people pretend.  Not Dave Meniketti.

Who is Dave Meniketti I hear people asking?

Basically Dave Meniketti is the lead singer/lead guitarist of Y&T.  Y&T started out as Yesterday and Today in the late seventies where they released two albums that did nothing and then changed their name to Y&T where they started getting some traction with albums like Earthshaker, Black Tiger, Meanstreak, Down For The Count, In Rock We Trust, Contagious and Ten.  My own personal favourites are Meanstreak, In Rock We Trust, Down for the Count and Contagious.

It was due to this article that got me started in seeking out the music by Y&T.

Anyway let’s get to his views;

Dave Murray and Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden): ‘I don’t like them.  Both are poor to adequate guitarists”. 

Iron Maiden is coming off the mega successful Powerslave World Tour which resulted in the also mega successful Live After Death release and you have DM offering his own true opinion on them.    That’s ballsy.

Mick Mars (Motley Crue): “Not the greatest player but a great guy. He doesn’t play very well.  He’s not inspired and he’s very sloppy.  He sounds like he picked up a guitar two years ago.”

I think the Dirt sums up Mick Mars and where he was at with his life during this period.  DM got it spot on, with Mick not being inspired.  Mick likes the blues and along his path to Blues stardom he ended up in Motley Crue.  To be honest I saw the Crue live and when Mick Mars started doing his guitar solo, I felt like walking up on stage and pulling his guitar lead out.

Chris Holmes (WASP): “I don’t like him.  It’s bullshit guitar playing.”

I totally agree with DM on this one.  Holmes was rubbish; Blackie was the brains and the talent behind that outfit.  When he got rid of him, he created The Crimson Idol.  Enough said.

Matthias Jabs and Rudolph Schenker (Scorpions), K.K Downing and Glen Tipton (Judas Priest): “Guitarists to fill holes where solos are.  I don’t find them inspiring soloists.”

I think he is a bit harsh on the Scorpions and Judas Priest duo, especially when the Scorpions where coming off the success of Love at First Sting and Judas Priest where on a roll that started with British Steel in 1980.  Nevertheless DM was asked on his views and he gave them.

George Lynch (Dokken): “He reminds me a lot of a lot of Los Angeles guitarists.  Good and technical but relying a lot on the bar.  He gets boring after a while.”

Do we get this kind of honesty in 2013?  Hell no.  We only get this kind of honesty if someone breaks up and wants to vent their laundry to the world.  DM and his band Y&T were practically had traction on the West Coast of America, and it wasn’t until 1985 that they toured the Midwest of the U.S.  1976 was when the first Y&T album came out.  In 1972 the band was formed.  13 years later, they finally started to get traction around America and not just the West Coast.  How many musicians starting off these days, will put in this kind of effort?

DM also had kind words to say about other guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot), Eric Clapton, Van Halen, Gary Moore, Angus Young, Neil Schon, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend, Ted Nugent, Ronnie Montrose, John Sykes, Ritchie Blackmore and Billy Gibbons.

For Neal Schon he mention how he learned a lot from Neal, how Clapton is a master and not a clone, how Hendrix was his biggest influence, how Billy Gibbons is the ultimate in R&B influence in Rock N Roll and how Jeff Beck is an innovator.

 

Finally, Meniketti was respected by other musicians and he was even asked to join Whitesnake and Ozzy Osbourne’s new solo band before Randy Rhoads came on the scene.

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Music, Uncategorized

Guitar World – January – 1986

Guitar World – 1986 – January

I was unpacking boxes and I came across all of my Guitar World magazines, Guitar for the Practicing Musician which morphed into just Guitar, Guitar School, Guitar One, Guitar Player, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Australian Guitar and Guitar Player.

This was the first Guitar World magazine I purchased.  I remember purchasing it from the newsagency, bringing it home and slowly taking it out of the plastic.  I remember turning the pages over as delicate as a heart surgeon.   This was all I had back in 86, apart from a tape of Twisted Sister’s Stay Hunger, Van Halen’s 1984, Bruce Springsteen’s – Born In The USA and Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil.  I also had some seven inch singles from my brothers that had Kiss – I Was Made for Loving You and Hard Times as its B Side.

It had Yngwie Malmsteen on the cover.   I don’t know why I purchased this edition as at that time I didn’t even know who Yngwie was or how he sounded.  However I was starting to get into guitars and the magazine was called Guitar World.

There was a small piece in a section called The Whammy Bar, which stated that Billy Sheehan will be joining David Lee Roth on his new solo project and that DLR is also trying to get Yngwie Malmsteen in there.  Here is the connection for me as I knew who DLR was from Van Halen.  This alone made me interested in seeking out the music from Malmsteen.

Who would have thought how interconnected Malmsteen and Steve Vai where at that time.  Talk about six degrees of separation.  So Malmsteen came to America and played in a hard rock band called Alcatrazz.  When he left that band to do Rising Force, Alcatrazz hired Steve Vai as his replacement.  DLR is looking at putting a new band together post Van Halen and Malmsteen is sought out, however it is Vai that gets the job.

Then I read the Malmsteen interview.

“I’d rather have people dislike my style than change it,” he says. “If someone says, ‘Hey, Yngwie, you play too damn much’ –- I don’t care. The way I play is the way I like to play. If people like it – great.  If they don’t, it’s still fine with me.”

I think 27 years on; it’s safe to say that Yngwie didn’t conform to any record label standard.   I have listened to every album he has produced and while quite a few became a yawn fest and a waste of time I will never get back, he never gave in and he never sacrificed his ideals to please the  corporate empires.  For any guitarist or musician coming out, this should be your motto especially when you have musicians from ‘successful ‘ groups departing and issuing comments like this (from Adam Gontier – ex Three Days Grace vocalist);

“The music BUSINESS.  Remember this people…, in my/our case; it’s always been about the “business”.  The money.  What about the love for creating real music from the heart?  Where did that fit in? Pretty much nowhere.  No room for music from the heart, when it’s just about music for the radio.”  

You can safely say that Malmsteen has always been about the music.

It’s okay to have haters.  You cannot please everyone.  However as soon as you lose what made you special in the first place, you are the same as everyone else.

“I’ve always sacrificed things in order to become the best musician I could be. “

Malmsteen dropped out of school at 15, got a job working in a guitar shop which further developed his skills (being able to play is one thing, however knowing your equipment and knowing how it all hangs together is another).  How many kids these days drop out of school at 15?  Why would they?  Isn’t it better to get an education and even go to Uni/College so that there is something to fall back on?

“If guitar players just listen to other guitar players it’s almost impossible to avoid sounding like them,” says Malmsteen, who acknowledges only Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore as guitar influences.”

Isn’t that so true.  Look at all the metal guitarists around today, they can do all the guitar tricks from so many different styles, all packaged into one.  Malmsteen sweeps, Van Halen taps, Al DiMeola alternate picking, Steve Morse string skipping, John Petrucci legato, Randy Rhoads modal theories, and so on.  The ones that truly stand out are the ones that do it a touch differently.  Disturbed is a prime example that comes to mind of this where guitar and drums where one.  The guitar acted like a percussion instrument.  Great music can be born out of the syncopation of drums and guitar.

“It’s also important to me that what I play fast will also sound good if the same notes are played at a slower speed. I play classical runs, arpeggios and broken chords that if played at a slower speed would sound very nice as well. “

Has anyone ever done it?  I have.  I remember taking Trilogy Suite and playing it at 100bpm instead of the 200 bpm it is supposed to be.

“Anyone who’s witnessed Malmsteen on stage knows he is an intensely exciting performer. Most guitarists with mind-boggling technique are actually quite boring in concert, but Malmsteen manages to impress as well as entertain. He is always in constant motion, whether playing his Strat with his teeth or effortlessly twirling it around his body.”

This is a general rule for every musician.   The definition of musician also takes in the definition of performer.  You need to deliver the goods live and make it exciting.  You need to make the kids want to be you, you need to inspire the almost there musicians to be you and you need to leave the mouths wide open of seasoned musicians.   Otherwise the million plus other musicians will come along and push you aside.

“Much hard work, of course, has gone into honing his style.  “I’ve been playing constantly since the age of eight,” says the twenty-two-year-old guitarist.”

Yes that’s right, Malmsteen was 22 in 1986.  He came to the U.S in 1983 as a 19 year old.   This is what kids need to realise.  It takes time.  Nothing happens overnight.  You need to be in it for the long haul.  In the case of Malmsteen, he came to the US and joined Steeler and then Alcatrazz.  Both bands where stepping stones.

Would Led Zeppelin have been so great if they formed in 1964 or 1966?  Would Jimmy Page write the songs he did if he didn’t do time with the Yardbirds and the British studio scenes.

Would Metallica be where they are if they kept their original bassist and never hired Cliff Burton?   Would they have written Master of Puppets if Dave Mustaine was still in the band?

Basically it was a long road to success once upon a time and that hasn’t changed in the current internet era.  Even someone like PSY had put in time before he went viral.  His first album was released in 2001.  It wasn’t until 2011 that the world knew who he was and that was achieved without the traditional mainstream press and radio.

Even though the news carriers publicise the one in a million stories of people found and made into overnight sensations, there are still a billion of other artists still paying their dues.

“I’ve always been aware of recording techniques,” he says, “and I’ve always felt I could do a better job than an outside producer because they obviously don’t know the songs as well as I do.  I mean, I don’t think a painter would do the background and let someone else finish the rest of the painting.”

The musician definition just keeps on growing.  You create, you perform, you know your gear and tweak it to suit, you practice your art, you record your own music, you produce it and release it.  With the internet and advancements of technology, every musician should be doing the above.

 “Malmsteen’s desire to do it all obviously puts a lot of weight on his shoulders. Will he keep a clean head and progress? Or will he get caught up in the rabid attention he’s been getting and stagnate? The answers to these questions will prove if Malmsteen becomes the legendary guitarist he is so capable of becoming.”

The magazine came out in January 1986.  Malmsteen was promoting Marching Out which came out October 1985.  In September of 86 he released Trilogy.  Three albums in three years as a solo artist.  In total if you include Steeler and Alcatrazz releases that is six releases in four years.

Remember Malmsteen’s motto, it’s all about the music.  Keep on pumping the music boys and girls, that is how it was done back in the day so that artists could get traction and that is how it should be done in this day and age.  Six album releases in four years.  A total of 50 songs over a 48 month (as one Alcatrazz album was a live release).

A song a month should be the aim of every artist as a minimum.

Did Malmsteen become the legendary guitarist?  My view is YES.  He released Odyssey in 1988 with Joe Lyn Turner which became Malmsteen’s most successful album of his career and the one where you could have questioned if he was becoming another record label slave.  Remember his motto, its all about the music and the very commercial sounding Joe Lynn Turner was fired.

Did he maintain his legendary status?  My view is YES.  When shredding and neo-classical became out of fashion in the record label controlled U.S Malmsteen still forged a successful career in Europe and Japan during the 1990’s.  He never gave in to suit a flavour of the year style.  He remained true to himself and that to me is the sign of a legend.

Yes there are stories of his ego, his erratic behaviour, his fury (remember the plane incident) and his controlling manner however he never gave away himself, he never sold out to cash in.  As soon as he became commercially successful, he fired the singer and started a new again.

I remember reading in Metal Edge or another music rag sometime during the mid 90’s that Malmsteen and Ronnie James Dio ended up getting together to write some songs or where going to get together to form a supergroup.  I don’t know how true that is and what happened to the music they created.

Other guitarists mentioned in the magazine where Spacey T. from the band Sound Barrier, Kazumi Watanabe, George Thorogood, John Martyn, Lonnie Mack, Steve Stevens, Dave Meniketti and Al Di Meola.  But that is for another day.

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