Graham Bonnet on unknown Alcatrazz guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen in ’84: “He’s one day gonna be a star, I think”

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By Steve Newton

Back in the ’80s one of my jobs at the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver was to cover the hard-rock/heavy metal beat. Soon after getting hired as a proofreader/typesetter in ’82 I was doing articles on Priest, Scorps, Maiden, and Ozzy, which–to my utter delight–often ended up as the cover story.

Metal was big at the time, and getting bigger. Most of the bands I interviewed were on tour and set to play Vancouver–most often at the Pacific Coliseum–but now and again I’d just get assigned to interview a loud act that just had a new album out and was hungry for some press.

One such interview was with Graham Bonnet, whose band, Alcatrazz, had released its debut LP, No Parole For Rock ‘n’ Roll, in October of ’83. I had known Bonnet from his work with two of my fave bands at the time, Rainbow and the Michael Schenker Group.

But the big buzz about Alcatrazz concerned its 20-year-old Swedish guitarist with a name nobody could pronounce: Yngwie Malmsteen. (“It’s like [the Yiddish phrase] ‘oy vey’, but it’s ‘ing vey’,” Bonnet explained to me, as heard in this audio excerpt.)

Tricky moniker aside, Bonnet was overjoyed to have landed Malmsteen in his band–though he would soon quit to form his own band, Rising Force, and be replaced by Steve Vai. Bonnet thought Malmsteen was “shit hot”, and as good as Eddie Van Halen.

Have a listen:

 

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