During a recent conversation with Eddie Trunk, Ozzy’s former guitarist Jake E. Lee talked about recently calling Yngwie Malmsteen an “arrogant fucking asshole” and a “shitty rhythm player” who’s only good at one aspect of guitar playing.
Jake explained (transcribed by UG):
“I never said he was a shit guitar player. I don’t remember how it came up. As you know, doing interviews, you get the same questions over and over – and for some reason, Yngwie came up. [Chuckles]
“And it was a left turn that I relished because it wasn’t your standard question. I won’t say I regret it, I stand by everything I said. But I never questioned his ability as a guitar player. He’s a phenomenal guitar player.
“I question his person, his being. I kinda wish I never said it, but he’s an arrogant asshole. He is. Everybody in the industry knows it, nobody really says anything. I brought it up and I shouldn’t have.
“It’s a personal opinion and it probably should have stayed personal.”
The guitarist added:
“I love sloppy rock ‘n’ roll guitar players: Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Ace Frehley – they’re a little sloppy, but that’s a part of their charm, that speaks to me, it moves me.
“And then you have your technical players. They’re cool too. And then occasionally, you have that rare guy that has the fire of Johnny Winter and the technical proficiency all in one, my ultimate example being Uli Roth. He’s amazing.
“And I put Yngwie in that category.
“I’m not backtracking here. I never said he sucked as a guitar player. I don’t think his rhythm playing is all that great [chuckles], but his soloing is – there’s no question there, he’s a phenomenal guitar player.
“But he’s an asshole. [Chuckles]
“On behalf of all the people that he played with, that I’ve spoken to and all the technicians and crew that I personally know and have heard all these stories about him – that’s where I’m coming from.
“My wife Amy – she works as a bartender. A couple of days after that interview [in which I called Yngwie an asshole] came out, I went to her bar. And there’s a lot of people in Vegas that work as technicians – lightning, sound… I didn’t have to buy a drink all night. They were buying me drinks because they loved what I said about him.
“It’s about his person, not about his abilities.”
Do you have any personal experiences with him? I’ve never personally had a problem with him. I think he’s got better over the years about that…
“Yeah, it was a very brief encounter. It was pretty soon after I joined Ozzy [in 1983]. I think it was in LA, he was backstage, some band was playing at a club. We were introduced. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but he looked at me and said, ‘Oh, I saw you play in Sweden,’ which was maybe the second show I had played with Ozzy.
“I said, ‘Oh, I hope it didn’t piss you off too much. Do you want a refund?’. And he looked at me and said, ‘Eh, it’s OK…’ That’s my personal experience with him. It wasn’t that bad. But just from all the people that worked with him – I heard stories.
“And I read an interview in which he said that he isn’t considered the giant musical genius that he is is because his music is too sophisticated and it goes over people’s heads. That right there gives me pause. [Chuckles]
“I think I expressed what I think about Yngwie – nothing about his playing, it’s about his being.”
After Trunk once again said Yngwie has definitely changed in his opinion, Lee concluded:
“I apologize if I judged him on his past and not his present.”