There were quite a few bands of the same name doing the rounds in the seventies and eighties, albeit with different spellings of the name. This was the hard rock outfit put together by Rainbow and MSG vocalist Graham Bonnet after his fracas with Michael Schenker in the early eighties.The band's initial line-up included Yngwie Malmsteen, who featured on their debut album, "No Parole from Rock' n Roll", released in1983. The Swedish guitarist left to embark on a very successful solo career after the first album, and his replacement was Steve Vai from Frank Zappa's band. The balance of the band was made up by ex-New England members, Jimmy Waldo on keyboards and Gary Shea on bass, together with ex-Alice Cooper drummer Jan Uvena. Outwardly, Alcatrazz possessed all the right ingredients for success, but they failed to stamp their identity on the rock world, and the recognition they deserved eluded them. Vai left to join David Lee Roth's band, and he in turn was replaced by ex-Axis guitarist, Danny Johnson, for their third and final studio album, "Dangerous Games", which was released in 1986. The band split in 1987, although a live album, "Live Sentence", was released in 1989. Bonnet went on to feature with guitarist Chris Impelliteri and Blackthorne.

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Biography by Ed Rivadavia
Alcatrazz was originally formed as a vehicle for vocalist Graham Bonnet, but became famous for introducing budding guitar heroes instead, namely Swedish phenom Yngwie J. Malmsteen and ex-Frank Zappa associate Steve Vai. After toiling away unsuccessfully for most of the '70s with the Marble and as a solo artist, vocalist Graham Bonnett got his lucky break when he was tapped to replace Ronnie James Dio in Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow in 1979. But after recording the much maligned Down to Earth album and a single live performance headlining the first Castle Donington Monsters of Rock Festival in the summer of 1980, Bonnet was unceremoniously sacked by the temperamental Blackmore. Down but not out, Bonnet set about forming Alcatrazz, drafting veteran musicians in keyboardist Jimmy Waldo, bassist Gary Shea, and drummer Jan Uvena, and looking to reproduce the basic Rainbow sonic formula. This was made possible with the arrival of Swedish guitar prodigy Yngwie J. Malmsteen, who had already spent a few years in America honing his chops in Steeler (featuring future Keel vocalist Ron Keel). An avowed Blackmore disciple, Malmsteen was just coming into his own as a songwriter and his collaboration with Bonnet yielded an impressive (though ultimately unsuccessful) first album, 1983's No Parole From Rock'n'Roll. Unfortunately, Malmsteen proved to be as egomaniacal as his hero, quitting Alcatrazz for a solo career following their first tour. The band soldiered on, recruiting guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, who was still a relative unknown despite having accumulated years of experience under the tutelage (first as a music transcriber then as a band member) of eclectic avant-guard rock legend Frank Zappa. But 1985's Disturbing the Peace was another commercial flop, and Vai soon quit to join David Lee Roth's band. Finding themselves once again in need of a six-stringer, Alcatrazz hired Malmsteen-clone Danny Johnson for 1986's uninspired Dangerous Games. Disheartened by the indifference of fans and media alike, Alcatrazz decided to call it a day soon after.

 

Yngwie Malmsteen
Steve Vai
Graham Bonnet
Gary Shea
Jan Uvena
Jimmy Waldo

Racer X
Impellitteri (What a brilliant guitarist and band)
Bitch
Accept
Michael Schenker

 

If you havy any contribution to make to this band or something to add, email me - Japie Marais.

 

ALCATRAZZ featuring Yngwie Malmsteen: Evil Eye (live, 1985)
 

  


 

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Hold your mouse over the album to see the title, year of release and rating out of 5.

Alcatrazz - 1986 - Dangerous Games - 2/5

Alcatrazz - Live Sentence - 1984 - 2/5

Alcatrazz - No Parole from Rock 'n' Roll - 1984 - 4/5

Alcatrazz - Disturbing the Peace - 1985 - 1/5

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