Born into a musical family in Stockholm on June 30, 1963, Malmsteen was exposed to classical music from an early age, and began playing guitar at the age of nine. Malmsteen was in his teens when he first encountered the music of the 19th-century violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini, whom he cites as his biggest classical influence. Malmsteen transcribed and mastered these pieces on guitar, which was concurrent with the development of a prodigious technical fluency, previously unknown in the rock guitar world.
In 1983 he was brought to the USA by Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records who had heard a demo tape of Malmsteen's playing. After brief engagements with the bands Steeler and Alcatrazz, Malmsteen released two solo albums, "Rising Force" (winner of Guitar Player Magazine's Best Rock Album and nominated for a 1984 Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental) which achieved the impressive position of #60 on the Billboard album chart, and the less successful "Marching Out" (1985).
Malmsteen's style was dubbed "Neoclassical" and it became a popular style during the mid 1980s, with notable imitators such as Paul Gilbert, Tony Macalpine and Vinnie Moore (who provided the guitar parts for Michael J Fox's "Back to the Future" movie). However, by the late 1980s the style had become unfashionable in the USA, although Malmsteen continued to be popular in Europe and Asia. Although initially regarded with respect by the musical fraternity, his repeated claims of being "the greatest guitarist in history" (complete with demands that music magazines subtitle any articles about him accordingly) led to a status as a pariah in the musical world. Regardless, his sheer technical prowess remains remarkable.
In the 1990s, he continued to record and release albums under a Japanese record label, and maintained a small but devoted following in Europe and Japan, and to a lesser extent in the USA. In 2000, he once again aquired a contract with a US record label, Spitfire, and released his 90s catalog into the US market for the first time - including what he regards as his masterpiece, Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra.
Solo Discography (not counting collection albums):
- /Rising Force (1984)
- /Marching Out (1985)
- /Trilogy (1986)
- /Oddyssey (1988)
- /Trial By Fire: Live in Leningrad (1989)
- /Eclipse (1990)
- /Fire and Ice (1992)
- /The Seventh Sign (1994)
- /Magnum Opus(1995)
- /Inspiration (1996)
- /Facing the Animal (1997)
- /LIVE! (1998)
- /Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in Em, Opus 1 (1998)
- /Alchemy (1999)
- /War to End All Wars (2000)