DOB: June 30, 1963
From: Stockholm, Sweden
Bands: Steeler, Alcatraz, Solo
Yngwie Malmsteen was largely responsible for the development of the style of guitar playing known as “shredding” that was so popular in the 1980’s. Shred guitar solos are lightning fast riffs that depend more on their speed than their musicality to enhance a song. Guitar enthusiasts have admired and respected the musicians who could produce such breathtaking licks, and Yngwie Malmsteen is always mentioned as one of the best.
In his early years, Malmsteen joined several rock bands around Stockholm. I didn’t take long before he became frustrated with their lack of willingness to take musical risks. Audiences that seemed to prefer lightweight pop sounds to the hard rock songs filled with instrumental solos that he enjoyed also disillusioned him. He made a demo tape which he distributed to as many record companies outside of his home country as he could find. Finally, the founder of California-based Shrapnel Music, Mike Varney, heard his efforts. Yngwie was invited to record with a new band in the US called Steeler, and he was on the road to fame as a guitar shredder.
Steeler released a self-titled album in 1983, which grabbed some attention because of Malmsteen’s frenetic guitar solos. He was not happy with the quality of the other musicians in the group, however, and soon joined a band called Alcatrazz. The new group released an album (No Parole for Rock and Roll) and played a concert tour. Still dissatisfied, Yngwie decided that he would have more artistic license if he became the leader of his own band. In 1984 he gathered some musicians to form the group Rising Force, which included his friend from Sweden, Jens Johansson on keyboards.
The album Rising Force was first released in Japan and created such a buzz that it was soon distributed around the globe. It was nominated for a Grammy and hit the Billboard Top 60. More importantly, it set the standard for an instrumental guitar album and single-handedly originated the “Neo Classical Metal” genre of music. It remains one of the best selling instrumental albums ever produced.
The group released Marching Out and Trilogy in rapid succession and both were well received. The two albums were not only demonstrations of Malmsteen’s skill as a guitarist, but established his reputation as a composer, as well. In 1987, however, he nearly lost his life when he crashed his fast moving Jaguar into a tree. He developed a blood clot in his brain, which could have been fatal, and he was in a coma for seven days. He also sustained significant nerve damage in his right hand that left it virtually paralyzed. To add to the trauma, he regained consciousness to discover that his mother had died. He was determined to persevere, however, and worked diligently to recover the use of his hand and regain his health.
With the release of Odyssey in 1988, the music world realized that Malmsteen was truly back at work. It was his most commercially successful album, especially the single “Heaven Tonight.” He took his band on a worldwide tour and the group had the honor of being one of the first groups to play in the former Soviet Union. Late that year Fender released the first Malmsteen signature Stratocaster. During the early 90’s, a string of albums came from Yngwie’s fertile mind and talented fingers including Fire and Ice, Eclipse, and The Seventh Sign.
In 1997 Yngwie proved to the world that he is much more than just a shredder. He wrote and recorded a completely classical work that he considers his masterpiece. With the lofty title Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in Eb Minor Op. 1, the album pleased critics and serious musicians around the globe. It was recorded with the highly acclaimed orchestra from Prague, the Czech Philharmonic and its famous conductor Yoel Levi. A few years later, Malmsteen was invited to perform the work before a live audience in Tokyo with the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. The DVD recording of the concert was released in 2002.
The next year, many guitar fans rushed to attend the concerts in the famous G3 series which featured the three men most aficionados considered to be the Dream Team of guitarists: Malmsteen, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani. The audio CD’s and DVD releases of the live concerts were instant best sellers in 2003.
Yngwie has continued to tour and record music throughout the decade of the ‘00’s. In ’07 he was featured on the popular video game “Guitar Hero II” (X-box Version). Players of the game can achieve the “Yngwie Malmsteen Award” as a bonus if they can accurately hit at least 1000 notes in a row.
With all his flamboyant showmanship and incredible skill on the guitar, Yngwie continues to impress audiences in the US, Europe and Asia. He is a truly creative musician who has managed to successfully combine two very different forms of music into one completely original style. The world will probably not see another guitarist like Yngwie, but he has made, and will continue to make his mark on the modern music scene.
Check out the Total Guitar lesson “Play Like Yngwie”
DOB: January 26, 1955
From: Pasadena, California
Bands: Mammoth, Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen is one of the most technically flawless guitarists to ever handle a pick. His band had a large impact on the world of rock music but arguably the biggest impact Eddie made was on future guitarists who would imitate his innovative style. To many people Eddie Van Halen is the face of 80s rock. He forever changed the way electric guitarists will play their instruments and is now recognized as living, breathing rock royalty.
In 1977 Van Halen got their big break when Gene Simmons of KISS saw a show at a club in Hollywood. He financed the creation of their first demo tape. Shortly after, Warner Bros. signed the band to a record deal. By 1978 they released their first self-titled debut album which met with immediate success, soaring as high as #19 on Billboard’s chart of pop albums in 1978. The first single released by the band, a cover of the Kinks “You Really Got Me”, reached the top 40 on Billboard’s chart.
The band released four more albums in the four years that followed: Van Halen 2 (1979), Woman and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981), and Diver Down (1982). While these albums were successful by the standards of most bands they failed to match their original album in both sales and impact. Then in 1984 the band released the album MCMLXXXIV, usually shorthanded as 1984, which proved to be arguably one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded.
Eddie’s approach to the guitar involves several distinctive components. His innovative use of two-hand tapping (in “Eruption”), natural and artificial harmonics, and tremolo picking combining with his rhythmic sensibility and melodic approach is what makes him a guitar legend. Eddie’s tapping technique, in which he uses both hands on the guitar neck, is his most well known attribute as a guitarist.
A crucial part of Van Halen’s sound is his use of the Floyd Rose fulcrum vibrato for electric guitars. Developed in the mid-20th century, early versions of this device allowed the guitarist to impart a vibrato to a chord or single string via movement of the bar with the picking hand.
Another unique aspect of Eddie’s playing is the tone his licks generate. Van Halen’s unique sound is generated by using a stock 100-watt Marshall amp, a Variac, and a “Frankenstrat” guitar. The “Frankenstrat” is Eddie’s name for the guitar that he constructed from a Charvel factory body and neck, a vintage Gibson P.A.F. humbucker pickup sealed in surfboard wax (to reduce microphone feedback), a pre-CBS Fender tremolo bridge, and a single volume control. The “Frankenstrat” has become one of the most famous guitars in rock history.
Learn to shred like Eddie Van Halen.
DOB: June 6, 1960
From: Carle Place, New York
Bands: David Lee Roth, Zappa, Solo
Steve Vai is a rock guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and producer. Steve Vai is known as one of the world’s greatest guitar virtuosos.
Vai started his professional career with Frank Zappa. He recorded and toured in Zappa’s band from 1980 to 1982. He then began a solo career in 1983 and has released 13 solo albums as of 2008. Apart from his work with Frank Zappa, Vai has also recorded and toured with Public Image Ltd., Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth, and Whitesnake. He has composed music for movie soundtracks and in 1999 Vai started his own record label, Favored Nations.
Vai continues to tour regularly, with his own group and fellow guitar instrumentalist friend Joe Satriani on the G3 series of tours. Billy Sheehan, former David Lee Roth and Mr. Big bassist also joined him for a world tour.
In 1990, Vai released his critically acclaimed solo album Passion and Warfare. The song “For the Love of God” was voted #29 in a readers’ poll of the 100 greatest guitar solos of all time in Guitar World Magazine.
Steve Vai has been acclaimed as one of the most accomplished guitarists of all time. He is famous for his technical mastery of the guitar as well as stylish performance techniques that set him apart from the rest of the pack of aspiring guitar greats. Through his music and success, Vai remains true to his roots and strives to contribute to the world with his music. He founded the Make A Noise Foundation in 1986 to help provide young, talented musicians with instruments and options for developing their talents. By staying true to his own style and beliefs, working to better the world through his music, and putting in the time and effort to become a technical master.
Learn to shred like Steve Vai.
DOB: June 1956
From: Chicago, Illinois
Bands: Nitro, Solo
Michael Angelo Batio – MAB is an American heavy metal guitarist and columnist. Batio was voted the “No. 1 Shredder of All Time” by Guitar One Magazine in 2003. He was also listed as one of the “Top 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time” by Guitar World Magazine, for which he writes the column Time to Burn, and one of the “20 Greatest Shredders of All Time” by Total Guitar Magazine, both in April 2008.
Batio began his recording career in 1984 when he joined new Chicago-based heavy metal band Holland, an eponymous project set up by ex-Steppenwolf singer Tommy Holland. With major label Atlantic Records, the band released their debut studio album in 1985 entitled Little Monsters, which saw moderate success in the United States. The band split up soon after, and a compilation of material from the Little Monsters sessions, Wake Up the Neighbourhood, was released in 1999 through Batio’s label M.A.C.E. Music.
After the breakup of Holland, Batio started his own eponymous band with singer Michael Cordet, bassist Allen Hearn and drummer Paul Cammarata. The Band did not release any albums, though three of their songs appeared on the 1998 Nitro compilation Gunnin’ for Glory.
In 1987 Batio joined glam metal artist Jim Gillette on his solo album Proud to Be Loud, before founding the band Nitro with bassist T.J. Racer and drummer Bobby Rock. In 1989 Nitro released their first studio album, O.F.R., from which they released two singles, “Freight Train” and “Long Way From Home”. The music video for “Freight Train”, which received much airplay on MTV, was notable for featuring Batio playing his now famous ‘Quad Guitar’, a notion which FHM Magazine voted one of the “50 most outrageous moments in rock history”.
1987 was also the year Batio released his first instructional video with “Star Licks” as part of the “Masters Series” and was one of the first recognized rock guitarists to make the jump into video instructional material. This video was the very first “shred” instructional program showing many modern guitar concepts for the first time.
In April 1993, Batio founded his own record label, M.A.C.E. Music, which became one of the first labels online in 1996. He used this label when he began recording his first album, No Boundaries, which he released in 1995. Batio’s second studio release was Planet Gemini in 1997, which showed a very progressive, experimental side to his playing. In 1999, Batio released his second instructional video, Jam With Angelo, which came with his third studio album as a companion CD: Tradition. This was quickly followed by a fourth full-length album in 2000, Lucid Intervals and Moments of Clarity, which was credited to “Mike Batio and Rob Ross”, the latter being the drummer.
In 2001, Batio released a CD with his band “C4,” covering songs from his Holland years and including the original “Call to Arms.” It was his 1st all vocal CD since recording with Nitro.
In 2003, Batio released his first DVD, the title release in his Speed Kills series, followed by the second, Speed Lives, in 2004. It was also in this year that Batio released a compilation album, Lucid Intervals and Moments of Clarity Part 2, which featured songs from Tradition and Lucid Intervals.
In 2005, Michael released his highly anticipated cover/tribute/studio album, Hands Without Shadows, which featured guest appearances from such musicians as Mark Tremonti (of Alter Bridge fame), Rudy Sarzo (of Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake and Dio fame) and virtuoso newcomer Bill Peck. In 2006, DVD Speed Kills 2 was released, in addition to the first in the new Hands Without Shadows series, Performance. Batio’s latest release came in 2007, when his first two albums – No Boundaries and Planet Gemini – were remixed and remastered with additional drums, for an album entitled 2 X Again; the title of a song from the first album. Angelo also released three DVDs in 2007: Speed Kills 3, 25 Jazz Progressions and MAB Jam Session.
Michael Angelo Batio has an advanced knowledge of music theory, with a deep understanding of complex scale combinations and time signatures which assist him in his compositions. Batio has cited F-sharp minor and F-sharp phrygian dominant as his favorite. He has described F sharp minor as a “demonic” key, giving a dark, evil sound.
Learn to shred guitar with Michael Angelo Batio.
DOB: November 6, 1966
From: Carbondale, Illinois
Bands: Racer X, Mr. Big, Solo
Paul Gilbert is well known for his work with Racer X and Mr. Big, as well as many solo albums. He also joined Joe Satriani and John Petrucci on the 2007 G3 tour.
He was been voted number 4 on GuitarOne magazine’s list of the “Top 10 Greatest Guitar Shredders of All Time”, as well as a place in Guitar World’s 50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time list. Gilbert is known for his speedy style, alternative picking method and unique string skipping technique.
One of the keys to success is to emulate someone who has gone before you and learn from their style, techniques, attitudes, and behaviors. For those who aspire to be hard rock virtuosos, check out Paul Gilbert’s guitar dvd lessons.
Learn to play with intensity, speed and finesse with Paul Gilbert of Racer X and Mr. Big!
Paul Gilbert Terrifying Guitar Trip takes you from the studio to the stage, with lots of thoroughly explained music and instruction in between. Paul gives advice for beginners as well as plenty of challenging licks for intermediate and advanced players.
In Intense Rock Complete, Gilbert combines Intense Rock Volumes 1 and 2. These dvd guitar lessons take you step by step through the techniques that will enable you to play terrifying licks. In this exciting presentation, Paul Gilbert teaches you his personal exercises and sequences for incredibly fast and clean alternate picking, 3-note-per-string scales, sweep picking and string skipping.
Special features include a bonus performance by Yngwie Malmsteen and bonus lessons from Steve Morse and John Petrucci.
Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar goes behind the scenes with shred pioneer Paul Gilbert. Enter Paul’s world of intense guitar techniques and creative music as he explains the details of the Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar album.
Includes special sections on arpeggios, picking, phrasing, and legato techniques as well as a special shred annex of Paul’s favorite and fastest new licks, rare concert footage, and backing tracks. Also features downloadable tab!