Yngwie Malmsteen missed out on a spot with Kiss because he gave his height as a metric measurement

Yngwie Malmsteen
(Image credit: Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images)

Aside from a handful of high-profile guest spots, Yngwie Malmsteen has spent much of his career as a lone wolf – a fierce solo artist who has climbed the ranks of the guitar world’s illustrious community of electric guitar wizards, one blazing shred run at a time.

If things had turned out slightly differently, however, Malmsteen’s career may not have unfolded in quite the same way, and a handful of the most iconic rock bands may, with the help of Yngwie’s trademark style of dizzying guitar playing, have sounded totally unrecognizable.

In a recent conversation with eonmusic (opens in new tab), Malmsteen revealed he was once on the cusp of joining Kiss, though never got as far as putting on the face paint due to a rather unusual recruitment process that involved some confusion over a metric/imperial conversion.

“When I actually lived in Sweden,” he began, “I was offered a gig in Kiss! They wanted to talk to me. They called me up, right, and the guy said, ‘Are you hot?’ 

“Then he asked me, ‘Are you six feet tall?’ And I’m metric, right? I’m 6”3, I’m actually quite tall, I’m 192cm. So I said, ‘No, I’m 192,’ and he goes, ‘What the fuck’s that?!’ So they never called back, so I didn’t end up with an Ankh on my face!”

The list, however, doesn’t stop there. When asked whether he had been approached by any other big bands over the years, Malmsteen replied, “Yeah, of course. Quite a lot, actually.” 

“I was offered a gig in UFO,” he elaborated. “I was offered a gig with David Lee Roth. There was some murmur about the Ozzy [Osbourne] thing. Ronnie James Dio, he talked about it all the time.” 

And just for good measure, Malmsteen also went on to address the “murmurs” that once spread surrounding a link up with a coveted Deep Purple slot.

“There was murmurs,” he recalls. “Me and Roger Glover always got along. I got along with Richie Blackmore too, but Ian Gillan, for some reason he... I did a show with him once, and we had the greatest time.

“It was a lot of fun, but then I did a tour with him a few years ago, and he didn’t seem to like me a lot, so I don’t know.”

Yngwie Malmsteen, in a continuation of his fierce solo career, recently released his latest studio album Parabellum, which dropped on July 23.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.