Alcatrazz is an English-American heavy metal band formed in 1983 by Graham Bonnet, Jimmy Waldo and Gary Shea. They are best known for their songs "Island in the Sun" and "God Blessed Video", and have gone through a number of line-up changes, leaving Bonnet as the only constant member. The band is also notable for featuring a previously-unknown Yngwie Malmsteen, who was the guitarist of Alcatrazz during 1983–1984, and was subsequently replaced by Steve Vai and then by Danny Johnson.
After breaking up in 1987, and reuniting for occasional live performances between 2006 and 2017, Alcatrazz reformed once more in 2019 under Bonnet and Waldo. To date, the band has released three studio albums: No Parole from Rock 'n' Roll , Disturbing the Peace and Dangerous Games .
The band's initial line-up consisted of former Rainbow singer frontman Graham Bonnet, young Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, who had recently left the 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 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 to several tracks.
The band's debut album, No Parole from Rock 'n' Roll was released in late 1983 on Rocshire Records. Decent support was given by MTV to the lead single, "Island in the Sun", which showed a heavy Rainbow influence. Despite the commercial nature of the song, it received little radio play. The album nonetheless spent 18 weeks on the Billboard charts and peaked at No. 128. A second video released in 1984 for "Hiroshima Mon Amour" became popular in Japan.
Rochsire then released Live Sentence , a concert recording from with songs from both concerts of the recent tour of Japan at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo on January 28, 1984. Being discontent with the sonic qualities of the recording, Malmsteen tried to prevent the release of the album but failed. Some Rainbow covers were included, including the classic Since You Been Gone. The album would reach No. 133 in the US., A live video concert was also produced. During this period, internal turmoil began surfacing within the band, between Malmsteen and Bonnet. According to Malmsteen, Bonnet had become fed up with the attention drawn to his guitar playing from fans over Bonnet's vocals. According to Malmsteen, their professional relationship ended with the two having an altercation on stage after Bonnet allegedly tampered with Malmsteen's amplifiers during a guitar solo and "Since You've Been Gone" at a show in Oklahoma. This resulted in Malmsteen yelling at and arguing with Bonnet, Bonnet poking Malmsteen in the stomach with his microphone stand, and finally with Malmsteen punching Bonnet, all taking place on stage. Following this, Malmsteen left Alcatrazz and created his own band called Rising Force, who signed with Polydor Records and released a successful self-titled debut album.
Waldo replaced Malmsteen with former Frank Zappa guitarist Steve Vai, despite resistance from Bonnet, and the band signed with Capitol Records after Rocshire was shut down following the owners being arrested for the embezzlement of millions of dollars. With Steve Vai, 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.
The band released Disturbing the Peace 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 16 weeks. Alcatrazz, however, could never break out of their small following, and had to cut a tour short due to financial problems.
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