Alcatrazz was Jimmy Waldo's teddy bear's name as a kid, from there the band chose the name; originally they were to go with "The Rosie O'Donnell Experience", but later felt that would indicate sympathy with the celebrity. The band's initial line-up consisted of Graham Bonnet (lead vocals), Yngwie Malmsteen (guitar), Gary Shea (bass), Jimmy Waldo (keyboards, vocals) and Jan Uvena (drums, vocals). Shea And Waldo were previously members of the group New England. Uvena had worked with Alice Cooper. Malmsteen had been in the Swedish Prog-Metal band Silver Mountain and had recently come to the US and joined the band Steeler for one album. Alcatrazz's material was written by Malmsteen, Bonnet, Waldo and Vai. Shea dubbed the group "Alcatrazz".
The band's debut album "No Parole From Rock 'N' Roll" surfaced in late 1983 on Rocshire Records. MTV gave decent support to the lead single "Island In The Sun" which showed a heavy Rainbow influence. Surprisingly, despite the commercial nature of the song, it barely received any radio play. The album still spent 18 weeks on the Billboard charts and peaked at #128. A second video was released in 1984 for "Hirsohima Mon Amour" which became very popular in Japan. Creative differences between Malmsteen and Bonnet surfaced while on tour. Due to this and his admitted desire to begin a solo career, Malmsteen quit in 1984 and formed his own band Rising Force who signed with Polydor Records. Rochsire then put out "Live Sentence", a concert recording from the recent tour of Japan. A live video concert was also produced. Malmsteen tried to prevent the release of the album but failed. Though the record had hideous sonic quality, the playing is electric. A few Rainbow covers were thrown in, including the classic "Since You've Been Gone". The album would reach #133 in the US. Waldo replaced Malmsteen with Steve Vai, former Frank Zappa guitarist, despite resistance from Bonnet, and the band signed with Capitol Records. 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.
Disturbing The Peace was released 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 #145 and charted for a solid 16 weeks, but Alcatrazz could never break out of their small following. A tour had to be cut short due to financial problems. Steve Vai left in order to join David Lee Roth's solo band in 1986 and the split was on good terms as it was an offer Vai could not refuse. He was replaced by guitarist Danny Johnson (ex-Axis and Rod Stewart), who recorded what would become Alcatrazz's final studio album, "Dangerous Games", which was released in the fall of 1986. "Dangerous Games" was a desperate attempt at selling out for the Big 80's hit, but no such hit was forthcoming. The album was watered down and featured nothing even remotely heavy on it. There were covers of The Animals classic "It's My Life" (one of the only Rock oriented tunes) and Marbles' "One Good Woman". Bonnet had been a member of Marbles in the late 60's when they had this hit in the UK. The album failed to chart. Shortly afterwards, Johnson also quit to join the band Private Life. Disheartened by an ever revolving door of guitarists, and dwindling album sales, they split up in 1987. In 1998 the Renaissance label issued "The Best Of Alcatrazz" which was a solid look back at the band's all-too brief career.
God Blessed Video appeared in the 2002 videogame soundtrack Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, playing on Rock station "V-Rock", a fictional radio station in the video games Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.
Bonnet has reformed his version of the band as "Alcatrazz featuring Graham Bonnet" with guitarist Howie Simon, Impellitteri/ex-Beautiful Creatures drummer Glen Sobel, and bassist Tim Luce and did a tour of Japan in May/June 2007. This tour was co-headlined with another ex-Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. They are currently writing their new cd to be released in late 2007.
Meanwhile, Waldo, Shea and Uvena have put together their own new incarnation of Alcatrazz with guitarist Stig Mathisen and ex-Velvet Revolver vocalist Tommy Fields.