While you might not be familiar with the name of Yngwie Malmsteen, you will quickly learn that he is a virtuoso guitarist from Sweden that is renowned for his work both as a solo artist and with Steeler and Alcatrazz. Malmsteen is a magnificent talent, and he’s also earned a reputation for being honest about his opinions on other artists and bands.
It goes without saying that Malmsteen has some strong opinions not just about Nirvana, but on the grunge movement in general. When discussing grunge as a whole, he said in an interview: “When this whole grunge style came, I thought it was so pathetic that a rockstar (was) wearing too big pants and an old torn shirt and sock on his bald head. I mean, what the hell is that? This is so contradictory. If I were a Rock fan then I would like to see a guy on stage ‘Biggert Than Life’. One who got clothes which I can not buy One who got things which I do not have. One who does things which I can’t do.”
Those are some pretty tough words to describe an entire genre, but we can give him the benefit of the doubt, grunge isn’t for everyone. However, some of his takes seem to have more to do with the nature of the music industry and trends that come about than anything else. Detailing further, Malmsteen commented: “The unfortunate part of the music industry is that it’s very non-diverse in the United States. In 1987, ’88, if you didn’t look and sound like Bon Jovi— forget about it. In 1990, ’92, if you didn’t look and sound like Nirvana— forget about it. That’s not right, that’s not the way shit should be done. That’s not what everybody in the world is supposed to sound like. For worse or better, I don’t know. I think it’s been pretty much the same for the last 30 years. It’s all about money. That’s all it is.”
Based on his comments, it appears as though Malmsteen didn’t hate Nirvana so much as he hated the hold they seemed to have on the music industry at the time. However, it’s true that he might not have been the biggest fan of the music itself, either, considering some of the bite his comments carried. Malmsteen even continued, by saying: “You can get famous without being good. You can be really good without being famous. Sometimes you can be good and famous, but that’s kind of rare. If you follow a trend, that’s the kiss of death right there. Here today, gone later today. That never works. Longevity is the name of the game.”
However, Kurt Cobain didn’t seem all too torn up by his critiques. In fact, he joked around about it, making the jest that, “If I squeeze a tennis ball, I might be as good as Yngwie Malmsteen, building up the muscles in my hands”.
If you want to check out the kinds of music Malmsteen preferred to play, you can listen to more of his stuff down below.