ALCATRAZZ

Country USA

Style Hard Rock/Heavy Metal

No Parole From Alcatrazz

The band’s initial line-up consisted of former Rainbow frontman Graham Bonnet, young Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen who had recently left American band Steeler, Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo from New England and Clive Burr of Iron Maiden fame. Burr was reportedly only in the band for a week, and left upon discovering that the band was going to be based in the United States, as opposed to his native England. Burr was soon replaced by former Iron Butterfly drummer Jan Uvena, who had just left Alice Cooper’s backing band. Shea dubbed the group “Alcatrazz”. For the first album, the bulk of the material was written by Bonnet and Malmsteen, with Waldo contributing writing to several of the tracks.

The band’s debut album “No Parole From Rock ‘N’ Roll” surfaced in late 1983 on Rocshire Records. MTV gave decent support to the lead single “Island In The Sun” which showed a heavy Rainbow influence. Despite the commercial nature of the song, it barely received any radio play. The album still spent 18 weeks on the Billboard charts and peaked at No. 128. A second video was released in 1984 for “Hiroshima Mon Amour” which became very popular in Japan. Creative differences between Malmsteen and Bonnet surfaced while on tour. Due to this and his admitted desire to begin a solo career, Malmsteen quit in 1984 and formed his own band Rising Force who signed with Polydor Records.

Rochsire then put out “Live Sentence”, a concert recording from the recent tour of Japan. A live video concert was also produced. Malmsteen tried to prevent the release of the album but failed. A few Rainbow covers were included, including the classic “Since You Been Gone”. The album would reach No. 133 in the US. Waldo replaced Malmsteen with Steve Vai, former Frank Zappa guitarist, despite resistance from Bonnet, and the band signed with Capitol Records. The group worked on new material and then headlined another tour of Japan which introduced Vai to the fans and allowed them to play new material from the upcoming album. A concert video was filmed from these dates.

Disturbing The Peace was released in the spring of 1985. The album was produced by Eddie Kramer who had worked with Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Triumph among others. “God Blessed Video” was the first single and video, yet MTV barely played it. The album peaked at No. 145 and charted for a solid 16 weeks, but Alcatrazz could never break out of their small following. A tour had to be cut short due to financial problems. Steve Vai left in order to join David Lee Roth’s solo band in 1986 and the split was on good terms as it was an offer Vai could not refuse.

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He was replaced by guitarist Danny Johnson (ex-Axis and Rod Stewart), who recorded what would become Alcatrazz’s final studio album, “Dangerous Games”, which was released in the fall of 1986. There were covers of The Animals classic “It’s My Life” (one of the only Rock oriented tunes) and Marbles’ “Only One Woman”. Bonnet had been a member of Marbles in the late 60’s when they had this hit in the UK. The album failed to chart. Shortly afterward, Johnson also quit to join the band Private Life. Disheartened by an ever revolving door of guitarists, and dwindling album sales, they split up in 1987. 

1998 saw the release of ‘The Best of Alcatrazz’ (Dreamcatcher), which compiled tracks from all eras of the band, and was intended to be the final word on the band. “God Blessed Video” appeared in the 2002 videogame soundtrack Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, playing on Rock station “V-Rock”, a fictional radio station in the video games Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.

In 2003, bassist Tim Luce introduced Graham Bonnet to guitarist Howie Simon. At the time, Simon was working with vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, Journey) and the Swedish group Talisman. Bonnet, Simon and Luce invited powerhouse drummer Glen Sobel (Impellitteri/Beautiful Creatures) to sit in with them at a few low-key LA concerts. The group discovered they had a unique and exciting chemistry, but prior commitments kept them from venturing any further until 2007, when the band was invited to co-headline a sold-out Japanese tour with Joe Lynn Turner.

The band rang in the 2008 New Year with Bay Area legends Y&T, and in January, 2008 Alcatrazz was a featured performer at the Fender Guitars Custom Shop’s annual ‘Fret Fest’ at NAMM. In July the band was invited to headline the 2008 BerkRock Festival in Berkovitsa, Bulgaria. ALCATRAZZ is back! The band is currently writing material for a new album, and will be hitting concert stages worldwide in 2009. The band’s high-energy live show incorporates all the Alcatrazz classics, as well as highlights from Graham Bonnet’s years with Rainbow, MSG and Impellitteri. The return of Alcatrazz to the scene of the crime proves there really is no parole from rock ‘n roll!

DISCOGRAPHYdiscography

ALCATRAZZ_NPFRAR1 ALCATRAZZ_DTP ALCATRAZZ_DG

– No Parole From Rock ‘N’ Roll [1983]
– Disturbing The Peace [1985]
– Dangerous Games [1986]

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ALCATRAZZ, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings