By Andrew Catania
In a 2005 іѕѕuе of Guіtаr Plауеr mаgаzіnе, Mаlmѕtееn discussed hіѕ оftеn-rіdісulеd bеhаvіоr, ѕауіng thаt, “I’vе рrоbаblу mаdе more mіѕtаkеѕ thаn аnуbоdу. But I dоn’t dwеll оn thеm. I dоn’t еxресt реорlе tо undеrѕtаnd mе, bесаuѕе I’m рrеttу соmрlеx, and I thіnk оutѕіdе thе bоx wіth еvеrуthіng I dо. I’vе аlwауѕ tаkеn thе untrаvеlеd раth. Obvіоuѕlу, people, hаvе thеіr оріnіоnѕ, but I саn’t gеt tоо wrарреd uр іn that bесаuѕе I knоw whаt I саn dо аnd I knоw whаt kіnd оf реrѕоn I аm. And I hаvе nо соntrоl оvеr whаt аnуbоdу ѕауѕ аbоut mе. Bасk іn Swеdеn, I’m ‘Mr. Pеrѕоnаlіtу’ іn thе tabloids, but оbvіоuѕlу I саn’t tаkе thаt ѕеrіоuѕlу. I knоw іn mу hеаrt thаt іf I dо thе аbѕоlutе bеѕt I саn do, mауbе tеn уеаrѕ frоm nоw реорlе mау turn аrоund аnd ѕау ‘hе wаѕn’t thаt bаd’.”
Yngwіе Mаlmѕtееm іѕ аѕkеd tо dо a blіnd critique оf ѕоmе оf his соntеmроrаrу guіtаr рlауеrѕ оf thе tіmе. It’ѕ аѕ іf Yngwіе іѕ рlауіng Thrаѕh It оr Trаѕh It аnd mаnаgеѕ tо ѕhіt оn Jое Sаtrіаnі, Lеѕ Clаурооl аnd Phil Anѕеlmо аll whіlе саllіng Lаrѕ Ulrісh a gооd drummеr.
Thеrе іѕ nо dеnуіng Yngwіеѕ tаlеnt аt whаt hе dоеѕ. Thе рrоblеm іѕ, Yngwіе drastically оvеrеѕtіmаtеѕ whаt hе dоеѕ. Fоr example, hіѕ саnсеrоuѕ nоtіоn thаt thе tеrmіnuѕ оf bеndѕ muѕt bе реrfесtlу іntоnаtеd tо a ѕресіfіс ѕtер, hе’ѕ mеllоwеd an lоt іn rесеnt уеаrѕ but hе’ѕ dеfіnіtеlу оf thаt very ѕресіfіс реrѕоnаlіtу tуре thаt іѕ drіvеn tо еxtrаоrdіnаrу асhіеvеmеnt bесаuѕе оf аn іmmеnѕеlу frаgіlе еgо.
It’ѕ еаѕу tо trу аnd dіѕсоunt hіѕ аmаzіng tесhnіԛuе, but gіvе сrеdіt whеrе іt’ѕ due. Hе hаѕ аmаzіng tесhnіԛuе. Hіѕ рrоblеm іѕ, his setlist he plays live іѕ аѕ dаtеd аnd musically іrrеlеvаnt аѕ hіѕ hаіrdо. Yngwіе dоеѕn’t lіkе іnассurаtе bеndѕ, оvеr-dіѕtоrtеd guitar tоnе, оr ѕсrеаmіng ѕіngеrѕ аnd lеtѕ thе іntеrvіеwеr knоw thаt іn nо unсеrtаіn tеrmѕ.
These days, Yngwie has his band on the side of the stage playing to while he prowls the same set list he’s played and the same scales for the last 5 or so years. Band members don’t know what hotels they’re staying at until the day of the show. With his incredible talent, Yngwie should be playing in arenas. That’s not the case. Is April destroying a once promising career of Yngwie Malmsteen?
One person who’s not spoken of is Tallee Savage. Tallee was instrumental in the early career of Yngwie. Tallee isn’t mentioned one time in Yngwie’s recent autobiography. Does this have to do with his over controlling wife, April, who acts as his Manager? The unauthorized biography of Yngwie Malmsteen shows the real account of a part of his history April wants to erase. Tallee was gracious enough to take time to speak with us about this very topic and tell us what she’s up to.
At what time did you meet Yngwie?
TS: I met Yngwie back in 1980. John Levén, the bass player from the band Europe, had a party and introduced us.
When he first moved to Los Angeles, he stayed with you?
TS: He stayed with my parents here in Sweden in 1981. Then, in 1982, we moved to his mom’s for six months before we got our apartment in Zinkensdamm, Stockholm. When we moved to L.A in 1983, we stayed with Ron Keel and the band Steeler in Hollywood on the western edge of South Central L.A. When he joined Alcatrazz we eventually got our apartment in Woodlands Hills.
While his career was first starting, how did you help him with it?
TS: Well, I was supportive of his guitar playing and music. I’m not sure other girls would have handled it so well haha… I mean, he played and rehearsed a lot. Like eight hours a day, sometimes more.
I had to remind him to eat. My parents helped out a lot with food etc. We didn’t have any money, basically lived out of my ”student allowance.” We spent day after day and night after night making demos, writing the logo on them and I would sell them at my school.
Promoted the ten concerts he did in Sweden by passing out flyers and hanging up posters. So much time and effort just to get 30-80 people to show up. But a few people came, the word spread and a few more demos were sold.
Yngwie has been blessed with working some excellent singers. Did you witness any of the so-called verbal “tirades” that have been reported he’d give to his band members?
TS: Yes, it happened now and then.
When he got into that awful accident with his Jaguar before Odyssey was to start recording, were you in contact with him then?
TS: Yes, Yngwie was at that point together with Greta. But we both talked and saw each other now and then when he came back to Sweden. I was excellent friends with Rigmor, his mother. We spoke every day and also with his sister Lolo.
Did his attitude change or was he always rude to people?
TS: Yngwie can be very sweet. He was funny, intelligent and lovable. I’m not going to tell you he mistreated me because he didn’t. We got along, and we were inseparable for those years, and I think of him as an important part of my life.
But he also had a dark side and often got in trouble. With band members or any other people that didn’t understand or agree with his point of view. His strong personality and sometimes bad attitude got in the way. But he still had a sense of empathy towards situations and people. You want to know when it changed and became ugly?… Well, from what everyone says it became severely worse after the mid 90’s.
In his autobiography, he doesn’t mention you at all. Do you feel that is because of his wife, April?
TS: Yes, of course! Why would you write an autobiography about yourself and leave out interesting parts of your early life? Like who supported you, lived together, toured with, moved to the U.S.A with and lived under none-so-glamorous- circumstances in a horrible and dangerous neighborhood. With occasionally no food and no money. I wasn’t mentioned in that book for the same reason that his wife April tries to forbid me to come to his shows in Sweden, for no reason at all. We’ve never met, never had a dispute, never disagreed with neither her or Yngwie. It was just a decision she took in the mid 90’s that I should just be erased out of Yngwies past. Just like his family in Sweden and old friends. It’s a shame.
When there was a film that was going to be about Yngwie in 2012, April reportedly pulled the plug on it because it was going to feature a segment on you. How did that come about?
TS: Oh boy, that was just a big mess. It was a movie called ”Så Jävla Metal.” Produced by Yasin Hillborg and had just been released in movie theaters here in Sweden. It brought all the necessary pieces of the Swedish Metal scene together with nostalgic memories for all rockers. The co-producers of the film called me and were so sorry to say that April had threatened to throw a lawsuit on them if my involvement wasn’t erased. My story covered Yngwie and me as teenagers, his struggle and way into fame. How we moved to L.A with our cat etc. It was exciting, fun and very innocent. But April made a huge fuzz about it. The movie was withdrawn, and all my interviews and pictures were cut out. It was just ridiculous.
Can you explain why Yngwie had all of the mishandling of his money and bad management for most of his career? Was it inexperience? Too many people involved?
TS: I can only talk about Andy Trueman, the manager that Yngwie had when he joined Alcatrazz. Andy lied and cheated us from day one. Gave Yngwie a little money, got us a limo that we used for a few weeks, guitar endorsements… Just enough things to get Yngwie quiet for the moment. Yngwie didn’t realize how much money he was bringing in and it was all going straight into others pockets. Of course, it had to do with inexperience. Not a lot of people involved. Andy was a big mistake!
Several former members of Yngwie’s band have complained there would be weeks he wouldn’t pay them, why would he do this?
TS: Well… First of all Yngwie himself didn’t get paid from managers. Apart from that, I can’t comment on that.
Joe Lynn Turner had a big hand in Yngwie’s rehab and making sure Polygram helped him. Do you recall any events during this time?
TS: No this is 1987, at this point, we had broken up. But we did, however, get back together for a short while again in 1988.
Various reports have said April is very controlling of his career. She tries to erase anything that has to do with his former member of Rising Force and you. Does she feel insecure about this? Why would someone try to shield a time when it was the best part of his career?
TS: Nobody knows why April would do this. I do understand the part that he needed a new fresh start, a healthier lifestyle, a new path to follow. But there never was any reason to forbid him to have contact with some old friends and family.
It’s beyond insecurity. It’s a controlling that went over to brainwash him.
Current and former members of his band have reported the mass chaos of touring with Yngwie, not telling them what hotels they’re staying until the day of the event. What is the reason for this strange and obscure behavior?
TS: Yeah, I heard about that. Obscure is the right word. Why? Well, Yngwie’s acquaintance circuit is super controlled, right? So now the band is on a leash as well I would imagine.
The recent war of words between Yngwie and his former singers, the way has his band on the side of the stage during concerts, has no lead singer, do you think it’s him wanting full control? Is it April?
TS: Yngwie has always had a big ego. But this goes beyond my comprehension. It might very well be his idea. But a manager is there to help you make the right decisions. This is not!
How is your career these days?
I’m doing great thank you. Doing what I always wanted and dreamt about – Photography. Running my companies – Savage Photography and Savage Beauty Photography.
Working with bands, artist, models, children. Collaborating with Sweden Rock Magazine a lot.
One must wonder, If April concentrated on her MEDUSA Cosmetics and let Yngwie have proper management, would he be playing bigger venues?