I was hooked.
The first record I heard by Yngwie was Facing the Animal – I was absolutely blown away. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! The speed, the tone, the note articulation, the sounds; it was all incredible. It’s still one of my favourite records of his.
I knew that was how I wanted to play guitar. Everything about that record was great, the guitar tone, the songs, even the art on the front. I loved it.
So needless to say, when I saw Yngwie’s biography on Amazon, I had to get it! I’d read a few stories about Yngwie, (and I heard a few more when I went I played with Steve Vai), and the chance to hear a few more stories from the man himself was irresistible.The first few pages of the book are introductions that read like a “who’s who” list of the guitar scene. There are introductions from Slash, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Zakk Wylde, Richard McDonald at Fender Guitars, Nick Bowcott at Marshall Amplification, the chair of Seymour Duncan Pickups, Seymour Duncan; Evan Skip from Seymour Duncan, Paul Younghead from BOSS / Roland and Walter Rührig at AKG acoustics. It’s an awesome introduction to the book!
Yngwie starts out talking about his life growing up in Sweden, what his family and friends were like and how the death of Jimi Hendrix was the spark that started his guitar playing journey. The death of Jimi Hendrix seemed to be a profound moment for a lot of musicians (and music fans) – when Joe Satriani heard about Hendrix’s death, he quit playing American Football and took up guitar. Anyway, after hearing about the death of Hendrix, Yngwie started out with an acoustic guitar that his mother brought back from a trip to Poland.
He talks all about his early inspirations and the moments of decision that shaped the future of his guitar playing career and life, for example, hearing a classical piece (I think it was Paganini) and knowing that he HAD to play guitar like that. He tells us all about his early days attending concerts in Sweden (including a hilariously gross story about how he was thrown out of one venue), his first bands, and how he ended up in America playing with Alcatrazz and Rising Force.The book is jammed with great and almost unbelievable stories – he flew to America to play in his first professional band, only to find he was staying in the boiler room of the warehouse they lived in… and they had sold their amplifiers!
We also get insights into his personal life at the time, he talks about his girlfriends, past relationships and how he met his current wife. He shares some of the darker stories; how friends died, and his recovery from a brutal car accident when he was told he wouldn’t play guitar ever again.
Reading the book, you get the impression that Yngwie’s life has been shaped by pure will power… and that nothing could get in his way. You get a feel for who he is as a person, and he definitely has a good sense of humour – opening his introduction with a quote from Spinal Tap!
If ever there was a person who was the epitome of independence, it is him.
And of course… some of the stories are absolutely outrageous and hilarious! But I won’t talk about them here, that would spoil the book…The hardback copy is nicely put together and you get some vintage photos in the middle pages. Really cool. The writing style is very easy going, so it’s a fast read. Great for commuting or going on holiday with.
The story of Yngwie’s life is one of incredible determination, right from when he was a child – the titled “Relentless” is very fitting. He’s certainly someone who has lived life on his own terms. And all these stories are documented in this book.
If you would like to hear how Yngwie Malmlsteen influenced my guitar playing, you can check out my heavy metal record here.