Yngwie Malmsteen puts Ritchie Blackmore rumours to rest, praises Nicolo Paganini and Uli Jon Roth


By Steve Newton

Yngwie Malmsteen likes to wear all black on-stage and play fast as hell on a Fender Strat through a wall of cranked Marshall amps, so you might think that Ritchie Blackmore is his hero.

“Okay, let’s correct that,” says Malmsteen when I mention that Wikipedia names the six-string legend from Deep Purple as “his most important guitar influence”. “Have you read my book?” he asks from a tour stop in Cleveland. “I released a memoir last year called Relentless, and everything that you have ever heard about me is put to rest in that. It includes all the personal stuff, the technical stuff, equipment, musical journey, you know.

“I grew up in Sweden, and in Sweden it’s, like, a socialist country—we didn’t have anything. It’s black and white, everything. One TV channel. And my sister gave me Deep Purple’s Fireball for my eighth birthday, so I was eight years old in a country that didn’t have any media anywhere, so of course the impact was amazing, to hear that music. By two years later I knew how to play everything note for note—Made in Japan, all this—but I became frustrated with the fact that it was all pentatonic scales. Pentatonic blues scales are what guitar players play, and I got really frustrated with that because I was playing all the time.”

As Malmsteen explains, he didn’t find a respite from his pentatonic blues until the same sibling who turned him on to Purple brought home some early Genesis records.

“They have much more interesting chord structures and melodies and much more difficult things to actually learn and play,” he relates. “So then I realized that that’s actually mostly baroque classical music that Tony Banks, the keyboard player in that band, brought in. So I went direct to the source and started listening to Bach and Vivaldi and then eventually Nicolo Paganini. My whole style is based on baroque classical music and the virtuoso violin of Nicolo Paganini. That is what I do with Marshall stacks and Stratocasters.

“So I have absolutely no influence from Ritchie Blackmore at all,” he concludes. “Nothing.”

So much for the accuracy of the world’s free encyclopedia. But what about its sordid details regarding Malmsteen holding his fiancée hostage at gunpoint, or being involved in that drunken airplane incident?

“Those two things are not true,” he stresses. “Having said that, yes, I was a bit of a wildman.”

What we can confirm about Malmsteen—or his current Guitar Gods tour with Guns N’ Roses guitarist Bumblefoot, instro-rock ace Gary Hoey, and former Scorpions axeman Uli Jon Roth—is that Roth has to sit out all the tour’s North American dates due to visa problems. So he won’t be fretting up a storm when the tour hits Richmond’s River Rock Show Theatre this Saturday.

“I think he’s amazing,” notes Malmsteen, “and I think it’s a shame that he can’t come along. But this is not [about] one person, this is an event, this is a big crazy guitar thing. And everybody brings something. I do what I do, and Bumblefoot does what he does, and Gary Hoey does what he does. And then we play together and jam, so it’s really good, you know.”

To hear the full audio of my 2014 interview with Yngwie–and my 1985 interview with him as well–subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also hear my interviews with such guitar greats as:

Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
Jeff Golub, 1989
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Robert Cray, 1996
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Edgar Winter, 2005
Randy Hansen, 2001
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
Robben Ford, 1993
Joe Satriani, 1990
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1995
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Walter Trout, 2003
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Leo Kottke, 2002
Link Wray, 1997
Buddy Guy, 1991
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1985
Malcolm Young of AC/DC, 1983
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
J.J. Cale, 1990
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Dickey Betts, 2001
…with hundreds more to come

25 thoughts on “Yngwie Malmsteen puts Ritchie Blackmore rumours to rest, praises Nicolo Paganini and Uli Jon Roth

  1. Yngwie is full of shit. He’s admitted the airplane incident many times. The audio of the incident was actually recorded, & is on youtube to be found. He admits it was recorded too, and that the Unleash the Fury album was named after that incident. The Blackmore thing has been talked about for decades, I’ve only noticed vague similarities, but Yngwie has never denied it until this point. Why? He’s had 3 decades to straighten it out. He certainly was inspired by Blackmore, & has admitted that in the past as well. Who knows what happened with the gunpoint hostage thing….but he was arrested & charged for it. Fiancee wouldn’t testify against him….case closed. Now YJM denies all these things? Maybe he has gotten amnesia? Sure doesn’t play cleanly anymore, and takes a back seat to Mr. Joe Stump when it comes to live performance. Joe will eat Malmsteen alive! This is being said by a Yngwie fan, so haters take notice. Later…

  2. Ingwie wittleweewee is a bit too full of himself. Yes, he can play fast classical scales. But really, what he does not play at a mile a minute is very plain. When you think about players skill level…well, as a real musician would think, you want to grade vibrato, resonance and ability to use melodic scale progressions. Honestly, if we are grading speed, wittleweewee is rare. But if we are really talking about what makes a great guitar player, it’s very obvious why guitar players overwhelmingly realize why Blackmore is in a class all by himself. All this despite the fact that he (RB) is an insecure mass a lot of the time.

  3. Ps
    And really, average music fans grade music by what feelings the music exudes.
    Many years ago I saw IM and RB within a relatively short time frame. We all commented that we were as amazed by how we felt the heart and soul of Blackmore permeating the concert hall as we were with the great genius of this guy who plays whatever comes to him at that moment! Ritchie is so great live!
    We also saw IM and we’re impressed with the speed. Beyond that, none of us felt anything inside from our experience. The thing we all agreed on is that we all wasted our hard earned blue collar money watching this transvestite (YM) show off, playing his over-rehearsed guitar solos as fast as he could.
    #wasted dough

    1. Fcking ass ole, you are the transvestite. You don’t need to insult to make a point clear, idiot! Yngwie is great, he refers that musically he has no influence from Blackmore, he based his style on Bach and Paganini.

      1. I don’t know , ” Jet To Jet ” sounds a lot like ” Spotlight Kid ” … just an observation !! Throw in the Fender Strats with scalloped frets ; it screams : ” Blackmore is my idol !! ” LOL !!

      1. How anyone can listen to YM for more than 2 minutes is beyond me.No soul to his playing at all.This is why he will never be mentioned in the same breath with the greats.Speed means nothing if theres no soul-feeling behind it.

  4. I am a HUGE Yngwie fan, still is but I think John Petrucci is more of a REAL guitar player’s guitarist, simply because he is a true musician. Petrucci can play fast, slow, melodic and above all he plays clean!

    Now….let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Malmsteen claims that he owes nothing to Blackmore??? I don’t believe it. I have proof that he owes EVERYTHING to Blackmore (and I’m not talking about his ‘scalloped’ fretboard either). In 1996, Yngwie Malmsteen released an album called ‘Inspirations’ showcasing his playing style and influences. On the album, there are 10 songs, and 5 of those songs were credited under Blackmore from Rainbow and Deep Purple era. Look it up.

  5. Malmsteen was mostly influenced by Blackmore in terms of songwriting, he never stopped trying to rewrite Machine Head and Rainbow Rising. Any musician who knows his craft will tell you Uli Roth and Al DiMeola had a massive impact on his lead guitar playing, and he never lost that influence. He had a really promising start, but for the past thirty years keeps playing the same song and album endlessly. To compare him to a more tasty, original player like Blackmore or Jeff Beck is to look like someone who doesn’t know anything about music. Edward Van Halen was there first for shredding, and he was an original as well. Go play to your quarter full stadiums, Yngwie. Check out who Beck plays to, and for.

  6. Improvisational ingenious, Riitchie Blackmore: the gold standard! The guy does not practice and lays down all his album tracks in 1 take. Go back and listen to the leads on Perfect Strangers; awesome guitar work.

  7. That’s true George, but Blackmore can also be extremely interesting on the rare occasions he does plot out his leads: the MH version of “Highway Star”. Malmsteen never wrote a song that good, nor a “Stargazer” or “Sails of Charon”. All three songs were a huge, never ending influence on him. He never progressed past that.

  8. I saw Deep Purple once back in the early 70s. Blackmore sucked. I could only listen through 3 1/2 songs and left, as Blackmore kept playing the same thing for every song. This was during his proclamation that he was the best guitarist in the world and would challenge anyone to a guitar dual.

    1. You are right about the middle one but not the first and last if you ever get a chance search youtube for ‘Amberdawn’ and ‘Blue’ by Yngwie Malmsteen, lots of soul there. By the way, aside from YJM I think John Petrucci is truly the best out there!

  9. R B and Y M are two very problematic personality guitarists, both of whom have this profile where people are disregarded by one situation or another, it is very ego envious, of course they have musician friends but many more enemies and for what? They are two excellent guitarists and each in its time. Dozens of guitarists do well to talk about their heroes, Slash talks about Jimmy Page, Joe Bonamassa talks about Jimmy Page so on, Eric Clapton is very honored and they all extinguish old guitar players to their performance. It’s just that R B and Y M are still childish mentally. But damn it, your art is great!

  10. Malmsteen has been slobbing on the knob of Uli Roth and Blackmore since time immemorial. He still sounds like a masturbatory, less soulful and musical version of Roth. Even worse, he stole licks from Sails of Charon and is always competing with himself to play them faster (and less musically). There you have Yngwie, end of story motha fuckaaas!

  11. Such a complete lie, half his stuff is blues based not neoclassical. Completely shitty person who refuses to acknowledge those who helped make him who he is today.

  12. Malmsteen own everything to Blackmore period, pantatonic??? listen to Gates of Babylon, Stargazer ect… nothing to do with that scale!! he play Blackmore song on inspiration and thank him in some of his album, copy Blackmore strat and some of his clothes in Steeler and Alcatrazz days, he own to Blackmore a lot!

    1. Let’s not forget Rory Gallagher’s ‘Moonchild’. Listen to that and tell me Yngwie did not ripped it off for one (or more) of his songs

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