Jeff Scott Soto has fired back at Yngwie Malmsteen for implying in a recent interview that the singer contributed nothing to the songwriting on the albums that they recorded together.
Soto, who sang on Yngwie's first two albums, 1984's "Rising Force" and 1985's "Marching Out", took issue with the fact that Swedish guitarist told Metal Wani this past July that he "always wrote everything," including the lyrics and melodies, and simply hired various vocalists to sing his material.
Speaking to the "US American Made Guitars" show, Soto said that "it's false information" to suggest that he contributed nothing to Yngwie's early albums "because we co-wrote [some of] those songs together. I actually authored those songs," he said (hear audio below). "For him to say, 'I wrote every lyric, every melody,' it's absolute falsity. And he's speaking out of whatever anger or whatever throwaway conversation he might be having, but when it's put on text, it comes across as very crude and very arrogant. So, of course, I don't take that kind of stuff too personally."
The singer went on to say that faulty memory may be at least partly to blame for Yngwie's comments. "Yngwie's written so much of his own stuff, he's written so much on his own when it comes to lyrics and melodies through the years," he said. "Maybe the past eight albums… I don't even know how many albums he's put out, but for that many albums he's put out, clearly his memory is fogged on the albums that he wasn't doing all of that."
He continued: "Joe Lynn [Turner] was a very strong collaborator on the album ['Odyssey'] with he did with Yngwie, as was I, as were some of the other singers that were involved with him. Maybe later on that changed and the other guys were basically just used to sing his words. And I was as well on some songs. I mean, 'I Am A Viking', I didn't write one word or one melody on it. But the stuff that we did together, that's stuff that we did together. And there's some stuff I did on my own that's on there — he didn't add or remove one single thing from it. So, again, it's selective memory. It could be he doesn't wanna talk about me, he's got a bad taste in his mouth about me, so he's gonna do everything in his power to make sure that everybody knows how downplayed my role was in his life and his career."
As for why he thinks Malmsteen has been making disparaging comments about him and other former singers in the press, Soto said: "If anybody knows anything about Yngwie's… the business end of things, his wife is managing him. And through the years, she's gotten more control over the people in his life, the people that were in his life, and it's really sad to see that a lot us have been kind of locked out. Slowly but surely, everybody that was in his past, including his band, including myself who actually retained a great friendship and relationship with him, were just dialed out. And we were just kind of pushed to the wayside for whatever reason, whatever paranoias there are. I really don't understand it. I actually had a great relationship with both of them, and I just saw more and more that they were just pushing everybody away. They wanted their inner circle to be so small, and I never did anything to interrupt that circle. But there were others around that I'm very close to, and was very close to, one of them being Marcel Jacob, who was the bass player that was in [Yngwie's] band when I was in the band. We had a band together called TALISMAN for about nineteen years until [Marcel] took his own life back in 2009. But he and Yngwie had a bit of a conflict and they dangled that over my head for a couple of years until Marcel actually passed away in 2009. When that happened, I assumed, like everyone else that knew Marcel, the guys in the band EUROPE, so many people, whether they were big or small, acknowledged Marcel's passing. Everyone expected Yngwie to do the same, and when he didn't, it rubbed everyone the wrong way, including myself. We tried to at least just get a statement or an acknowledgement of it, and when he was not only not doing that but actually hanging up on people, blocking them or changing his number so nobody can reach him anymore about it, to me… I made a statement, and that probably got back to their camp, that said, 'To me, Yngwie is dead.' I don't wanna know or hear from him."
Soto added: "Marcel was one of my best friends, and if you can't put water under the bridge when somebody has passed, to me, that's just the weakest, juvenile way of dealing with life. And it must have gotten back to his camp, 'cause all of a sudden I was cut out.
"Now, fast forward from 2009 to 2017, more and more, there's been more of a reason to… not necessarily bash me — they don't really care or think about me, so they're not really bashing me — but what he did is, if somebody asks him a question about me, it might rub him the wrong way and he'll give an answer that's perceived as I was never [an important] part of his career, I could have been… I was nothing but a pawn or something that was a vehicle that he needed just to get the songs across."
Despite the fact that he no longer has a friendship with Yngwie, Soto — who had a brief stint as the touring singer in JOURNEY more than a decade ago — still looks back fondly on his time with the legendary axeman. "I'm honored and I'm humbled, and everything that I've done, including with Yngwie, including with JOURNEY, those things ended sideways for me, but I still look at them as very pivotal and very important things in my life and my career," he said. "So I can't frown on them and I'm not gonna talk badly about them. I'm gonna be proud of them, I'm gonna say I was proud to work with Yngwie. I look at everything we created with pride, and I'm not gonna go bashing people just because I feel pissy about something he might have done or said."
In the days after Yngwie's original interview with Metal Wani was published on BLABBERMOUTH.NET, several of the guitarist's former singers — including Soto, Joe Lynn Turner and Tim "Ripper" Owens — responded on social media, with Turner describing Malmsteen's statements as "the rantings of a megalomaniac desperately trying to justify his own insecurity." This was followed by a retort from a member of Yngwie's management team, who wrote on Malmsteen's Facebook page that the three vocalists "came out enraged, spitting insults and profanities" at the guitarist because "Yngwie said something that they didn't like." The management representative added: " It's very unfortunate that these past hired vocalists must resort to mudslinging and insults to elicit any kind of media attention towards them. Such classless, puerile words are ungentlemanly at best and absolutely disgraceful at worst."