Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Lars Johan Yngve Lannerbäck came from a musical family. He claims that when he was a young boy, he watched a television special in which famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix smashed his guitar and then lit it on fire. This seemed so cool to the young Lars that he determined he would be a guitarist.
When he began his professional career, he changed his name to Yngwie Malmlsteen. His mother's maiden name was Malmsten, so he used that as the foundation of his last name. He also made his middle name a little more accessible to English speakers, and he became Yngwie Malmsteen.
During his teenage years, Malmsteen was influenced by classical music, especially a nineteenth-century violinist, as well as several contemporary guitarists, including Brian May, the guitarist for Queen.
After coming to America at the request of a music producer, Malmsteen spent most of the 1980s developing his career and his signature neo-classical style. He played with many significant musicians in a variety of venues and events all over the world. In 1982, he and his band
Rising Force won the Guitar Player Magazine's award for Best Rock Album and was nominated for a Grammy for 'Best Rock Instrumental.'
In the 1990s, Malmsteen began recording his own music and releasing his own albums, though his style of music was no longer appreciated as mainstream music in the United States. He was, however, still quite popular in Japan and Europe.
His sixteenth studio album was entitled "Unleash the Fury," and it was released in 2005. The title is a reference to an infamous incident which occurred on an airplane in 1988. He was drunk and acting obnoxious; after he finally fell asleep, he was awakened by a jug of ice water being poured on him by a woman. He woke in a rage and made an R-rated comment similar to the album title.
This is a significant album because several of its hits have become famous to anyone who plays Guitar Hero. In fact, in the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II, players who hit 1000 or more correct notes in a row receive the "Yngwie Malmsteen Award."