Yngwie Malmsteen: “I’ve never practiced in the true meaning of the word. From the first time I picked up a guitar when I was 7, in my head I was a performer”

Yngwie Malmsteen
(Image credit: Austin Hargrave)

“Did I ever tell you the story about when I first came to America?” Yngwie Malmsteen asks a few minutes into his conversation with Guitar World. The Swedish neoclassical shred legend is calling from – where else? – his Ferrari (“Sun’s up, top’s down”), and as the wind whips by in the background, he unfolds a tale from his past to illuminate how he approached the insane guitar work that characterizes his new album, Parabellum

“I was a little kid, like 18 or 19, and I was new in the country – I spoke English but I didn’t know some of the terminology,” he begins. “And right away I recorded one album with [Los Angeles-by-way-of-Nashville metal band] Steeler. We did it in one day, in a barn. Then right after that, I did the Alcatrazz album [1983’s No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll], and we had a producer there. It was really proper. 

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.