Steve Vai recalls playing to a crowd chanting Yngwie Malmsteen's name at his first gig with Alcatrazz

[L-R] Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen
(Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

When Steve Vai joined Alcatrazz in 1984, he was yet to take his seat in the pantheon of electric guitar greats. Sure, he'd done time in Frank Zappa's band between 1980 and '83, but with a solo career just one year in, he remained relatively unknown at the time.

Vai successfully auditioned to play guitar in the Graham Bonnet-led outfit shortly after the departure of Yngwie Malmsteen, but as he explains in a new conversation with the Swedish shred maestro, the band's fans were not informed of the lineup change.

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.