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Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen is a prolific Swedish guitarist, and multi-instrumentalist. In the 1980s he gained fame for his neoclassical style of heavy metal which combined elements of classical music with modern heavy metal. Malmsteen released his first solo album, Rising Force, in 1984 which received immense praise for Malmsteen’s virtuosity and shredding abilities. The album performed well in global charts. In 2009, Guitar World magazine listed the album as one of the top-ten shred albums of all time. His next two solo albums, Marching Out and Trilogy, were released in 1985 and 1986 respectively. However, in 1987, Malmsteen was involved in a car accident which put him in a coma and it was not until 1988 in which he was able to release his fourth album, Odyssey, which many believe to be his best piece of work. As a period with heavy popularity in metal music, Yngwie influenced many other prolific metal guitarists in the 1980s.

In the 1990s, the popularity of heavy metal music was in decline, especially in the US. Malmsteen still enjoyed success in Europe and Japan, and released a new album each year, except for 1993. The year 2000 marked a new era for Malmsteen, following the departure of vocalist Mark Boals, with the replacement being Doogie White, bringing a new sound to the band’s work. Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, two prolific guitarists, invited Malmsteen to tour in their G3 group in the year 2003, which marked a point in time where Malmsteen’s achievements as a guitarist were recognized worldwide. In 2008, Doogie White was replaced by Tim Owens of Beyond Fear.  Since then, he is still working on many new albums, usually releasing one every few years. His most recent work is YJM Rising Force’s ninth album (and his nineteenth overall) ‘Spellbound’ (2012). Malmsteen is working on a new album since February 2015.

Malmsteen is almost always seen with his own Fender Stratocaster. He often customizes them to his needs, by removing the string tree in the middle and installing a brass nut. He uses signature Seymour Duncan pickups, although much of his earlier work was recorded using DiMarzio HS4 pickups.

Malmsteen’s behaviour is often eccentric, and in the relatively laid back Sweden he made a name for himself as Mr Personality in the tabloids. He was a heavy drinker during his years of peak popularity, a car enthusiast and also a fan of cruisers with custom motorcycle stereo systems. Malmsteen himself recognizes his complex behavior and attributes some of his success to his atypical thinking. A fan of Ferraris, he owned a black 308GTS until replacing it with a 1962 250GTO.

 

Andy Fraser

Andy Fraser (full name Andrew McLan Fraser) was the bass guitarist, famous for being one of the original members of English rock band Free, which came to be in 1968.

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Image from Wikipedia

Andy Fraser was all of fifteen years old when he was handed a gig playing bass in John Mayall’s seminal Bluesbreakers band.  The gig came through Fraser’s mentor, British blues godfather Alexis Korner, whom he had befriended through Korner’s daughter.  Although Fraser’s tenure with the Bluesbreakers was to be short lived, it did pair him with future Rolling Stone guitarist Mick Taylor, and turn enough heads that he caught the attention of vocalist Paul Rodgers, drummer Simon Kirke and guitarist Paul Kossoff when they were looking for a bassist to fill out their ranks.  The four young men conspired to jam and, in May of 1968, Free was born.

Within six months of forming, Free had signed to Island Records and released its debut album, ‘Tons of Sobs’.  Success was slow and steady until the release of the ‘Fire and Water’ album in 1970, when the group’s hit single “All Right Now” ascended the British and American charts to #2 and #4, respectively.  The band continued to gain popularity, driven by Paul Rodgers’ blues-drenched vocals, Kossoff’s sorrowful guitar and Simon Kirke’s solid drumming.  As for Fraser, the lyrical nature of his bass playing, inspired by the likes of Paul McCartney and Jack Bruce, elevated the role of bass guitar from the plodding bottom end to a source of dynamics and melody within the songs.  Creative and personal tensions within the band eventually led to Fraser’s departure in July of 1972.  By the following year, Free had released one final album without him – and with limited input from increasingly ineffectual guitarist Kossoff – before unraveling and limping to a halt.  Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke, taking a cue from “All Right Now”, formed the bluesy hard rock band Bad Company, which enjoyed success into the early 1980’s.  Paul Kossoff resurfaced in 1974 with Back Street Crawler, and the band released two albums that promised a return to form before his untimely death in March of 1976.  For his part, Andy Fraser released two albums under his own name and that of the Andy Fraser Band, before joining a group called The Sharks.  It was during this time that Andy suffered the loss of his mother, the first of a series of upheavals that would wreak havoc in his personal and professional life.  Andy met his wife, started a family and moved to the United States.  It was there that he became somewhat disillusioned, had his first gay experience and poured himself into writing.  Robert Palmer turned Fraser’s song “Every Kinda People” into a hit, and Andy released the album ‘A Fine, Fine Line’ in 1984 before seemingly disappearing off the map.  For twenty years, Andy Fraser lived in self-imposed retirement, his songs being covered by various artists like Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker and Bob Seger, while he contended with issues of his health and sexuality.

In early 2005, false rumors of Fraser’s death surfaced and spread quickly across the internet, alarming friends, family and fans alike.  A rebuttal came from Andy Fraser himself, via his brand new web site.  Along with that came news of a new album, ‘Naked…and finally free’, and a desire to return to the music scene with some of the most personal and invigorating music of his career.  Andy Fraser is a gay man, living with AIDS – a key point that factors heavily into the heart and soul of the new album.  He is also more committed than ever to expressing his newfound freedom – both artistic and personal – through his music.  ‘Naked…and finally free’ is at once a declaration of survival and a reminder that he still has a lot left to offer.

Marty Friedman

Martin “Marty” Friedman is a rock and heavy metal guitarist who quickly gained popularity playing lead guitarist in Megadeth. He was a member of the band throughout the 1990s until 2000, at which point he left the band after expressing his desire to evolve as a musician and look towards different styles of music.

Since leaving Megadeth he moved to Tokyo, Japan and has become a prominent character in the Japanese hard rock and heavy metal scene. He has appeared on many so-called japanese ‘variety shows’ including Rock Fujiyama and Tamori Club. He has also produced music, created record labels (under Avex japan) and collaborated with many Japanese artists.

During his years in Megadeth, he was an extremely prominent ‘shredder’, especially as Megadeth’s playstyle was generally faster than the immensely popular Metallica, who were part of the ‘Big Four’ of thrash metal. His arpeggio-heavy solos and sweep-picking technique were unique, and he has appeared on many guitarist magazines to teach and share his methods.