Tales from a Metalhead: Chapter 16: I’ll See The Light Tonight

Tales from a Metalhead logo

This chapter is part of a book called Tales from a Metalhead written by Metal Express Radio’s President Stig G. Nordahl. The chapters will be posted one at the time and you can find them all here.

Picture of Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie J. Malmsteen signing my albums

There are probably more opinions about Yngwie J. Malmsteen than the vast number of notes he plays during any given guitar solo. I love his statement that “more is more.” His persona is a bit too much for some people, especially for the numerous musicians that have been in his band. Still, no one can say he didn’t play an important role in shaping Heavy Metal guitar playing. Yngwie is the inventor of the Neoclassical Metal subgenre and was a huge inspiration to lots of guitarists. Even I bought an instructional video on VHS once to learn his playing style. Obviously one has to practice a LOT to play like Yngwie so that was money down the drain.

I remember the debut album getting a lot of attention when it was released. It was groundbreaking!  Still it was his second album, Marching Out, from 1984 that turned me into a fan. The first track “I’ll See the Light Tonight” is probably on the top 10 list of tracks I played repeatedly in the mid 80s. The main riff and the guitar solo was, and still is, mind blowing. Jeff Scott Soto sings on the first two albums, which takes it to an even higher level. I had the video for “I’ll See the Light Tonight” on a VHS, taped from MTV. I played it so many times the tape was worn down in the end. At the time I didn’t know what Jeff Scott Soto looked like, and years later I found out that it was Yngwie’s new vocalist Mark Boals who appeared in the video, lip syncing to Jeff’s vocals. I asked Jeff Scott Soto about his reaction when he first saw the video on MTV without being informed that it was being filmed without him. “It sucked!” He had already left the band of course and for what reason?: “You don’t work with Yngwie Malmsteen, you work FOR Yngwie Malmsteen!” He said the subject is touchy, but I had to ask…

Mark Boals sang on the Trilogy album which was released in 1986. That was another good album, but the best was still to come; Odyssey from 1988. This time Yngwie had brought in Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. It was a perfect match! It’s a killer album and still a huge favorite of mine. On the Odyssey tour Yngwie played a show in Oslo. It was a huge disappointment to me when I found out that I was too young to attend the show. I was offered to do an interview though.

Picture of Yngwie Malmsteen 2
Yngwie J. Malmsteen in Solo Dec 12th 1988

I remember Yngwie showed up with his bodyguard and was smoking during the interview. I thought I’d ask him about the future and how long he thought he would be in the game. For some reason I asked; “What do you think you will be doing in 50 years?” 50 years!! Instead of something like 20 years. It is probably one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever asked. He’d be way up in his 80s by then. His response was good though; “I don’t know. Maybe I live in a different dimension.” I think I still have the interview on an old cassette tape somewhere, but it was done in Swedish (him) and Norwegian (me). That is actually the only time I’ve done a face-to-face interview with Yngwie.

One of my partners at Metal Express Radio, Scott Jeslis, did a phone interview with him years later. Yngwie was in Puerto Rico at the time and Scott was told to ask for “Justin Case” to be connected to Yngwie’s hotel room. The receptionist thought it was a joke and hung up. Scott didn’t give up though, and after the third attempt the receptionist found “Justin Case” and thirty minutes later Yngwie was calling Scott’s house looking for him! The pseudonym is reminiscent of a Bart Simpson prank.

I’ve encountered an artist checking into a hotel under a pseudonym once myself. I was doing a phone interview with Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler when he released an album with his band GZR. I don’t remember his pseudonym though. It was probably miles away from being as funny as Yngwie’s.

Stig & Jeff

After bass player Marcel Jacob and Jeff Scott Soto left Malmsteen they founded Talisman which was a great band. Due to some contractual issues they released a couple of albums together under the name Human Clay instead of Talisman. I did a phone interview with Marcel Jacob when the debut was released in 1996. Among other things we talked about what he and Jeff were doing while not playing together. He said Jeff was singing in a disco cover band in Las Vegas called the Boogie Knights. I told him I was going to Vegas in a couple of weeks so he suggested I check them out. He gave me Jeff’s fax number (yes, that’s how we communicated in the 90s) so that I could ask him to put me on the guest list. Jeff answered my fax right away and told me to come to his hotel for tickets.

The fax with Jeff Scott Soto’s reply

The show was the same day as my friend and I arrived in Las Vegas. We thought we’d pay Jeff a visit as soon as we had checked in to our hotel. He stayed at the Rio and we stayed at Circus Circus. We could see his hotel from ours. It didn’t look that far away so we thought we’d walk there, and so we did. We walked and we walked in the desert heat. It was way longer than we had imagined. Sunscreen? It never crossed our minds. When we arrived at Rio we were drenched in sweat and our faces had the same color as boiled lobsters. An air conditioned hotel lobby has never felt nicer. The receptionist called Jeff’s room, but the phone was busy, so we waited a while and had him try again. Still no answer. After waiting a while longer we tried a third time with the same result. The receptionist told us that he probably had taken the phone off the hook so as not to be disturbed while sleeping. He probably had a late show the evening before. We headed back to our hotel by taxi and thought we’d just go to the show that night hoping that we were on the list anyway.

When we got to the venue called “The Drink” our names were not on any list. We asked the security to find Jeff backstage so he could tell them to let us in but that did not happen. We ended up getting in, but I don’t remember if we finally convinced the security or if we ended up paying for the tickets. It was a great show though. Jeff Scott Soto and the band  performing in disco classics in full outfit. I always had this thing for 70’s disco actually. The best thing after Metal! When I spoke with Jeff some years later I told him about the Vegas incident, but I don’t think he remembered it at all. We just had a great laugh about it.

In 2009 Marcel Jacob agreed to make an appearance on Metal Express Radio’s “The Friday Guest DJ Hour Show”. We emailed a bit back and forth about the details for the show. The week before he was supposed to do the show we got the message that Marcel had committed suicide. It was quite a shock. He ended his life due to many years of personal and health issues he had been battling. We were emailing each other just the week before. In honor of his memory we had Jeff Scott Soto fill his spot. It was a really nice gesture from his good friend and partner over many years! RIP Marcel!

In 2012 we had another Malmsteen related Guest DJ Show on Metal Express Radio. Well-known Swedish Rock journalist Anders Tegner released his unauthorized Yngwie J. Malmsteen bio, Yngwie J. Malmsteen: As Above, So Below. To promote the book he did a show and told a bunch of great stories from his long career. The book is an interesting read as Anders has followed Yngwie closely since way before he moved to the US. I heard Yngwie tried to stop the book from being published. When he realized he couldn’t stop it, he wrote and published his own book, Relentless, in a rush. I guess the purpose was to set the record straight. I haven’t read Yngwie’s book yet, but I have heard that Tegner’s book is better.

The last time Yngwie played in Oslo was during the Seventh Sign tour in 1994. It was a good show, but for some reason the thing I remember best is that he introduced his wife April on stage for no other reason than to show her off. Maybe he had lived in the US for too long. It seems like a very American thing to do (no offence to our American readers). It reportedly became harder to work for him after April came aboard, taking on the role as manager. Yngwie’s band has been a revolving door of musicians.

Press conference with Yngwie/Sweden Rock

Yngwie, who’s currently living in Florida, doesn’t tour Europe much, at least not Northern Europe. The last time I saw him play was at Sweden Rock Festival in 2005. He did a press conference before the show. I was there, but since it was a press conference, meaning not a personal interview, I never used the recording apart from a station ID that is still on rotation on Metal Express Radio. The show was good as far as I remember. Mark Boals was back on vocals. The last time I saw him he played bass with Dokken!

These days Yngwie’s live shows are a pretty sad sight. The band is hidden offstage in the dark while he is the only one in the spotlight. He even does the singing himself, and he is not a singer. He also produces the albums himself. He shouldn’t. If he had a steady lineup and gave up some of the control his band could be just as good as before.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Yngwie and what he has done for Metal music. He invented a new subgenre, inspired tons of guitar players and released some fantastic albums. He was very hot when he entered the L.A. scene. In 1985 he was even invited to do a solo on Ronnie James Dio’s charity single “Stars” with the Hear ‘n Aid project. Dave Meniketti from Y&T, who sang on the track, told me that the control room was packed when it was Yngwie’s turn to play his part. Everyone was curious to see this new hot shot among guitarists.You can hear Dave Meniketti tell that story in a chapter coming soon.

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  • Stig G. Nordahl

    Stig is the founder and the president of Metal Express Radio, based out of Oslo, Norway. He has been around doing Metal radio since the mid-eighties. In fact, running Metal Express Radio takes almost all of his time. Is it worth it...? "Most times, yes," Stig says. "My philosophy is to try to give all Metal releases a fair chance to get promoted in one way or another. As you can imagine, it can be an arduous task to listen through about 20 albums every week! Still, I know we have the best METAL dedicated radio on this planet, and that is a reward in and of itself. I hope one day the whole Metal community can and will make listening to Metal Express Radio part of their daily rituals! Yeah, right..."

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