Alcatrazz was designed to be a vehicle for showcasing former Rainbow vocalist Graham Bonnet. Instead it ended up being famous for being a springboard for some of shred guitar’s biggest superstars. The band’s first guitarist was a 19-year-old Swedish upstart by the name of Yngwie Malmsteen. With the support of MTV, who played both singles from the band’s 1983 debut album No Parole From Rock N Roll in fairly heavy rotation, Malmsteen would become a superstar and forever revolutionize what it meant to be a guitar hero. Unfortunately, Malmsteen and Bonnet did not see eye to eye for very long and the guitarist would exit the band before the end of the first album’s tour cycle. He would go on to form his own band, Rising Force, and within the span of a year record two of the greatest neo-classical heavy metal guitar records to ever exist.
Malmsteen would be replaced by former Frank Zappa sideman Steve Vai for the remainder of the tour and the follow-up album. Vai would leave after a short tenure to join former Van Halen singer David Lee Roth in his newly minted solo career.
Alcatrazz soldiered on for a third and final album with a relatively unknown guitarist who would also leave after a short stint. Frustrated by the revolving door of guitarists, the band would call it quits in the late ’80s.
Bonnet later resurrected Alcatrazz in the late 1990s, but no further recordings were ever released.
Here from that very brief, but glorious first tour in 1984 is Alcatrazz featuring the guitar pyrotechnics of Yngwie Malmsteen on the classic anthem “Hiroshima Mon Amour.”
When I was growing up in rural Indiana in the early ’80s, there was very limited access to heavy music. These were the days before MTV blew up with the whole hair metal, Headbangers Ball phenomenon. But on Sunday nights, there was a two-hour radio show that came from WOXY, just across the state line in Oxford, Ohio (home of Miami University of Ohio). It was called Massive Metal for the Masses and I would wait all week for it to air. It was through this show that I was introduced to bands like Venom, Bathory, WASP, Michael Schenker Group, Slayer, and countless others. This Monday weekly column is my tip of the hat to that show. I call it Massive Metal Monday. Every week, I will pay tribute to defining moments by the artists that laid the groundwork for heavy metal to become the worldwide cultural bond for all of us metal heads.