Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen

Lars Johann Yngwie Lannerback was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on the last day of June, 1963. That same year, the Beatles had just emerged from Liverpool, England, soon to make their mark on music history. But it would be another twenty years before a lanky, tousel-haired Swede with hungry eyes would stand the music world on its head once again. The intervening years before 1983 when Yngwie J. Malmsteen was officially discovered by the music industry provided an environment ripe for the development of a musical prodigy.

The marriage between Yngwie's army captain father and artistic free spirit mother ended in divorce not long after Yngwie was born. The youngest child in a permissive household that included his mother Rigmor, sister Ann Louise, and brother Bjorn, Yngwie (named, his mother claimed, for an old boyfriend) was wild and unruly, and delighted in "anything that had a lot of violence in it." Music, especially guitar playing, was reserved for wimps, and young Yngwie would have none of it. Early attempts at piano and trumpet lessons failed to take hold, and the acoustic guitar his mother bought him at age 5 hung untouched on the wall. It wasn't until September 18, 1970, when Yngwie saw a TV special on the death of guitar iconoclast Jimi Hendrix, that a flame ignited in his mind. Seven-year-old Yngwie watched with awe as Hendrix blasted the audience with torrents of feedback and sacrificed his guitar in flames. The day Jimi Hendrix died, the guitar-playing Yngwie was born.

Applying his intense curiosity and tenacity to first an old Mosrite and then a cheap Stratocaster, Yngwie immersed himself in the music of such bands as Deep Purple and spent long hours unlocking the secrets of both the instrument and the music. His admiration for Ritchie Blackmore's classically influenced playing led him, through his sister's direction, back to the source: Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Mozart. As Yngwie absorbed the classical structures of the masters, his prodigious style began to take shape. He continued playing for hours each day, often falling asleep draped over his guitar.

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