Yngwie Malmsteen claims that his debut album played a significant role in keeping Fender afloat when the company went through a challenging period in the mid-1980s.
One of Fender's first signature artists, Yngwie spoke about his association with the legendary musical instrument manufacturer during a recent interview with Guitar.com.
Saying that he is "very proud" of the fact that the Fender Custom Shop recently launched a 30th-anniversary version of his signature model, the Swedish axeman boasted that he was not only "the first guy to get a signature model," he was also "the first guy to ever get a guitar for free from those guys." He added: "Fender never gave guitars to anybody! They didn't give to [Ritchie] Blackmore, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Hank Marvin or whoever. So I was the first guy, and they told me why too. The story is interesting."
Yngwie continued: "In the late '70s, two things happened. Fender almost went out of business, and by '81, they were bought out by two other guys. They started over, basically, and they were trying to put all these people with all these hard-rock guitars and stuff — everyone else wanted one because of [Eddie] Van Halen, right? They had been struggling a bit, then my 'Rising Force' album came out and not only did the album turn everything upside, but what's on the cover? A Fender Strat. That fucking album saved their company! They said that when that album came out, they couldn't build guitars fast enough; before that, they were selling nothing. So they came to me."
Malmsteen said: "Before that happened, I was being offered guitars from every guitar company and every amp company in the world. You name it. Gibson, even! 'Whatever you want, we will give it to you.' I said, 'No, thanks. Fender Strats, that's it.' Every amp company, too. I said: 'No, thanks. Marshalls for me.'"
Fender, which is privately held, made slightly more than $500 million in revenue in 2017 and had about $100 million in debt, according to Reuters.
Released in March 1984 via Polydor Records, "Rising Force" reached No. 60 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart and received a Grammy nomination in the "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" category at the 1986 ceremony.