Jeff Scott Soto Opens Up on His Current Relationship With Yngwie Malmsteen: ’I Am Trying to Reach Out the Olive Branch’

Legendary metal vocalist Jeff Scott Soto looked back on his time singing for Yngwie Malmsteen and his current relationship with the metal guitar virtuoso. Soto explained that, despite not being in contact right now with Malmsteen, he’s willing to “extend the olive branch,” simply because he “wants peace.”   

The topic came up in an interview with The Real Music Observer when he was asked how he ended up in Malmsteen’s band in the first place. “I’ve told the story many times,” said Soto, recalling how he thought the world was over when his cover band broke up. Of course, this wasn’t the case as he was only 19 years old at the time. The singer explained (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“I thought, ‘Life is over, my band is over. And now, what do I do?’ And my friend talked me into moving to Colorado and joining a cover band — a cover band made of mainly the top 40 hard rock and heavy metal songs, we would do Scorpions, KISS, Van Halen, that kind of stuff.”

Yngwie Malmsteen I'll See The Light TonightLive)

“So that band wasn’t working, I was not surviving, I was basically ready to come back home, take a Greyhound home, and move back in with mom.”

Fortunately, at that time, Malmsteen was auditioning for a singer for his solo work:

“And I saw this thing on MTV that Yngwie left the band Alcatraz, and he was looking for a singer. Friends talked me into sending my tape, sent the tape to LA, came back to LA a week after I got back, I got the call, ‘Yngwie wants to meet you.'”

“Then three weeks of going to his house every day, working on songs, recording in his home recording studio. I ended up getting the gig and singing the two songs on the first album — there were only two vocal songs, the rest of it was instrumental — and then we went in immediately to start making the second record, which is ‘Marching Out’, the first band album, the official band record.”

Yngwie Medley - SOTO

Of course, that road had its bumps and Soto left the band right before the release of Malmsteen’s second album “Marching Out” and was replaced by Mark Boals. He returned after some time and stayed for a year or so. He continued:

“Unfortunately, I left the band before the record was released and somebody else did the video of the song basically miming to my voice, and he hates it to this day as much as I hate it. It’s uncomfortable watching.”

“It’s kind of like a rock star moment when I’m watching somebody on stage singing to my voice. It’s kind of weird, but at least it’s movie, it’s fiction.”

Jeff Scott Soto: on Yngwie Malmsteen and Sons of Apollo

“But on the nonfiction end of things, I ended up rejoining Yngwie and doing the tour on the album that he sang for. So it’s a weird thing how it all happened. But that was my humble beginnings — 1984, August of ’84 I was officially in Yngwie’s band. And in September, I believe, the album came out literally like a month and a half later.”

When presented with a supposedly “tough question,” what his relationship with Malmsteen is like these days, Soto replied:

“It’s not a tough question. Unfortunately, it still exists the way it was the last time you asked or the last time anybody saw. And I have my moments where I really am trying to reach out and extend the olive branch.”


Nonetheless, he’s very grateful for the experience:

“I’m always focusing on praising and respecting the career that I built from him and with him. You know, this was a team effort to some degree, even though he’s the marquee artist, and he insists that we had nothing to do with the creativity and the kind of building that spectrum of his career.”

“But we all had a part to do with it. Even personality-wise, it was all par for the course in terms of what the outcome was. So I celebrate this, I tried to celebrate it. I tried to extend the olive branch, reminding him, reminding everyone I don’t want anything from Yngwie.”

As Jeff further adds, it’s not like he wants to start a band with Malmsteen, he just feels like being in good relations with people from his past:

“I don’t want to start a band with him, and I don’t want to be a singer again. I just want to be friends. I just want to be civil. I want to be able to reach out, and say ‘Happy birthday’ or ‘Love to the family’ kind of stuff because that’s the kind of person I am.”

Jeff Scott Soto - "Don't Let It End" ft. Dino Jelusick (Yngwie Malmsteen cover) - Official Video

“I want peace, I want peace and harmony, like Ringo, ‘Peace and Love, peace and love.’ I want to go under when it’s finally my time, knowing I buried all the hatchets and there was nobody that had a beef with me. That’s the bottom line.”

Soto was also a member of legendary rock band Journey for a while in the mid 2000s. And, as he adds, he kept his peace with guitarist Neal Schon:

“It’s the same thing with Neal — the whole Journey situation had its course road of interaction, and finally, Neal and I are at peace with each other. I can reach out to him now, he reaches out to me.”

Jeff Scott Soto - "Without You" (Official Music Video)

“We’re not having coffee, we’re not having dinner, we’re not starting up the band again, but we’re civil now, and this is exactly what I want out of life.”

“I don’t want anything from Neal, I don’t want anything from Yngwie or anybody else that I’ve worked with in the past. I want peace, love, and harmony, and I just want to be civil. I want everybody to get along.”

Of course, Soto adds that it might feel a little “boring,” but he simply wants to keep things calm at this point in his life:

“It sounds boring — as we know, the best things, the best stories, and the ones that light up the internet are the ones that are negative, with connotations, and walls between us, and hatred, and all that stuff. But you know what, man? We keep talking about it. I’m nearing 60. I don’t want that in my life. I just don’t want it.”

JOURNEY - I'll Be Alright Without You (Jeff Scott Soto)

Photos: Kronos (Soto230307), Alterna2 (Yngwie Malmsteen 5)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.