Shrapnel Records

Shrapnel Records is a guitar-oriented record label started in 1980 by record producer Mike Varney.

Shrapnel Records
Shrapnel logo
Parent companySony
FounderMike Varney
Distributor(s)The Orchard
Country of originU.S.
LocationNovato, California


Guitarist Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth, ex-Cacophony), one of the label's most successful artists, first appeared on the album Unsung Guitar Heroes II in 1980 with the band Vixen. Vixen would later change their name to Hawaii and release the album One Nation Underground for Shrapnel. In 1981, a friend gave Mike Varney a tape featuring a 17-year-old Swedish guitarist named Yngwie Malmsteen. A year later, Malmsteen wrote to the label stating that he wanted to export his music to America. Varney, who started writing a column called "Spotlight" for Guitar Player magazine in 1982, featured Malmsteen in his February 1983 column. The record executive flew Yngwie to California and set him up with vocalist Ron Keel's new band called Steeler. Steeler's self-titled album became a best selling release for Shrapnel Records.

The Shrapnel Records label and a growing worldwide interest in virtuoso "neoclassical-fusion" guitar playing helped launch the careers of dozens of other technically adept guitarists such as David T. Chastain, Vinnie Moore, Tony MacAlpine, Paul Gilbert, Bruce Bouillet, Joey Tafolla, Jason Becker, Michelle Meldrum and Nicole Couch (Phantom Blue), Greg Howe, Richie Kotzen, Borislav Mitic and the aforementioned Marty Friedman.

In the 1990s, established players such as George Lynch (Lynch Mob, Dokken) and Michael Schenker (MSG, Scorpions) recorded albums for the label. In the Mid-2000's the label signed Marc Rizzo from Soulfly and John 5 of Marilyn Manson fame. Shrapnel Records continues to provide a platform for exceptional hard rock, shred, progressive metal and heavy metal "guitar heroes".

The label was acquired by The Orchard, subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment, in November 2015.[1]

Related labels

In 1989 Mike Varney co-founded progressive rock/metal label Magna Carta Records. In the 1990s Mike Varney also started the Tone Center Records and Blues Bureau International sublabels to promote fusion and blues respectively.

Notable releases

# Artist Title Year Note
SH-1001 Unsung Guitar Heroes (V.A.) U.S. Metal Vol. 1 1982
SH-1002 Unsung Guitar Heroes (V.A.) U.S. Metal Vol. 2 1982 feat. Michael Angelo Batio and Marty Friedman
SH-1003 Wild Dogs Wild Dogs 1983 feat. Deen Castronovo
SH-1004 Exciter Heavy Metal Maniac 1983
SH-1007 Steeler Steeler 1983 feat. Yngwie Malmsteen
SH-1008 Culprit Guilty as Charged 1983
SH-1009 Hawaii One Nation Underground 1983
SH-1013 Unsung Guitar Heroes (V.A.) U.S. Metal Vol. 4 1984 feat. Shawn Lane
SH-1014 Keel Lay Down the Law 1984
SH-1018 Chastain Mystery of Illusion 1985
SH-1019 London Non-Stop Rock 1985
SH-1020 Vicious Rumors Soldiers of the Night 1985
SH-1021 Tony MacAlpine Edge of Insanity 1986
SH-1022 Fifth Angel Fifth Angel 1986
SH-1023 Racer X Street Lethal 1986
SH-1024 Chastain Ruler of the Wasteland 1986
SH-1027 Vinnie Moore Mind's Eye 1986
SH-1028 MacAlpine, Aldridge, Rock, Sarzo Project: Driver 1986
SH-1030 Joey Tafolla Out of the Sun 1987
SH-1031 Cacophony Speed Metal Symphony 1987
SH-1032 Racer X Second Heat 1987
SH-1033 Vicious Rumors Digital Dictator 1988
SH-1035 Marty Friedman Dragon's Kiss 1988
SH-1036 Jason Becker Perpetual Burn 1988
SH-1037 Greg Howe Greg Howe 1988
SH-1038 Racer X Extreme Volume Live 1988
SH-1040 Cacophony Go Off! 1988
SH-1042 Richie Kotzen Richie Kotzen 1989
SH-1043 Phantom Blue Phantom Blue 1989
SH-1044 Howe II High Gear 1989
SH-1045 Michael Lee Firkins Michael Lee Firkins 1990


  1. ^ Christman, Ed (19 November 2015). "The Orchard Acquires Shrapnel Records' Catalog". Billboard Biz. Billboard. Retrieved 2017-08-15.

External links

Cacophony (band)

Cacophony was an American heavy metal band formed in 1986 by guitarists Marty Friedman and Jason Becker, and signed to Shrapnel Records. They remained active until 1989, after which both guitarists forged their own solo careers and joined other bands.

Chromaticity (album)

Chromaticity is the ninth studio album by guitarist Tony MacAlpine, released on August 7, 2001 through Shrapnel Records.

Covenant (UFO album)

This is about the album by UFO. For other albums titled Covenant see Covenant (disambiguation).Covenant is the fifteenth album by the British hard rock band UFO. It was published as a limited edition 2-disc album, with disc 1, titled Covenant, containing entirely new material, and disc 2, titled Live USA, containing a collection of classics performed live. Covenant saw the return of Michael Schenker on guitar, as he had left the band in the middle of the Walk on Water tour.

Dragon's Kiss

Dragon's Kiss is the first studio album by guitarist Marty Friedman, released on August 8, 1988 through Shrapnel Records (United States) and Roadrunner Records (Europe).

Electric Joy

Electric Joy is the third studio album by guitarist Richie Kotzen, released in 1991 through Shrapnel Records.

Freedom to Fly

Freedom to Fly is the third studio album by guitarist Tony MacAlpine, released in 1992 through Shrapnel Records (United States) and Roadrunner Records (Europe).

Go Off!

Go Off! is the second and final studio album by the American heavy metal band Cacophony, released in 1988 through Shrapnel Records. About two years after the album's release, guitarist Jason Becker was diagnosed with ALS, rendering him paralyzed and completely unable to play to this day. Also two years later, guitarist Marty Friedman would join the band Megadeth.

Heavy Machinery (album)

Heavy Machinery is a collaborative studio album by guitarist Allan Holdsworth, keyboardist Jens Johansson and drummer Anders Johansson, released in 1996 through Heptagon Records (Sweden), and on 12 August 1997 through Shrapnel Records (United States) and Pony Canyon (Japan).Confusingly, on the album's European/US release, "Macrowaves" is made up of complete silence after 2:51, with an additional improvised "filler" keyboard and drum solo by the Johanssons at 23:46. On the Japanese release, "Macrowaves" only comprises the first part as normal without any silence; the silence has instead been moved to the bonus track, "The Moose Are Marching", where it fills the space from 7:59 to 20:45, after which the latter keyboard solo from "Macrowaves" ends the album.

Madness (Tony MacAlpine album)

Madness is the fourth studio album by guitarist Tony MacAlpine, released in 1993 through Shrapnel Records.

Marty Friedman

Martin Adam "Marty" Friedman (born December 8, 1962) is an American guitarist, known for his tenure as the lead guitarist for heavy metal band Megadeth which spanned nearly the full decade of the 1990s. He is also known for playing alongside Jason Becker in Cacophony until 1989, as well as his 13 solo albums and tours. Friedman has resided in Tokyo, Japan since 2003, where he has appeared on over 700 Japanese television programs such as Rock Fujiyama, Hebimeta-san, Kouhaku uta gassen and Jukebox English. He has released albums with several record labels, including Avex Trax, Universal, EMI, Prosthetic and Shrapnel Records.

Mike Varney

Mike Varney is an American musician, record producer, music publisher and impresario. He is the founder of the Shrapnel Label Group, which includes Shrapnel Records, Tone Center Records and Blues Bureau International. He also has a 50% stake in Magna Carta Records, a New York-based label. currently lists over 790 albums as being released by record labels founded or owned by Mike Varney. He is often credited with being the individual most responsible for popularizing the mid-1980s shred guitar boom, and has continuously specialized in producing highly acclaimed musicians within the genres of instrumental rock, hard rock, jazz, jazz fusion, blues, blues-rock, progressive metal and speed metal.

Some of the most recognized artists that have been produced by Varney, or have been featured on his labels, include Yngwie Malmsteen, David Lee Roth, Kansas, LA Guns, Brides of Destruction, Great White, Bang Tango, John 5, Steve Stevens, The Outlaws, Pat Travers, Rick Derringer, Leslie West, Chris Duarte, Indigenous, Michael Landau, Neal Schon, Shawn Lane, Victor Wooten, Frank Gambale, Eric Johnson, John Scofield, Dennis Chambers, Warren Haynes, Scott Henderson, Stuart Hamm, Tony MacAlpine, Vinnie Moore, Eric Gales, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Steve Smith, Greg Howe, Liquid Tension Experiment, Doug Pinnick, Mike Portnoy, Paul Gilbert, Vicious Rumors, Nicole Couch, Michelle Meldrum, Phantom Blue, Mike Stern, Winger, W.A.S.P., Steeler and Racer X.

Project (album)

Project is the second collaborative studio album by guitarists Greg Howe and Richie Kotzen, released on November 11, 1997 through Shrapnel Records. A previous collaboration between Howe and Kotzen, Tilt (1995), had sold well and thus resulted in a second album.

Project Driver

Project: Driver is a studio album by the heavy metal supergroup M.A.R.S., released in 1986 through Shrapnel Records (United States) and Roadrunner Records (Europe). The band's name is made up of the initial of each musician's last name: guitarist Tony MacAlpine, drummer Tommy Aldridge, singer Rob Rock, and bassist Rudy Sarzo. Craig Goldy was their original guitarist, but he left after joining Dio.

Richie Kotzen (album)

Richie Kotzen is the self-titled first studio album by the American guitarist Richie Kotzen, released on August 11, 1989 through Shrapnel Records.

Sharks (album)

Sharks is the sixteenth album by the British hard rock band UFO. It is the last album to feature longtime German lead guitarist Michael Schenker.

Tales from the Strip

Tales from the Strip is the ninth L.A. Guns studio album, released in 2005.

It is the second album of L.A. Guns with guitarist Stacey Blades, the first being the cover album Rips the Covers Off released the previous year.

The Inner Galactic Fusion Experience

The Inner Galactic Fusion Experience is the fifth studio album by guitarist Richie Kotzen, released on November 7, 1995 through Shrapnel Records.

Tilt (Greg Howe and Richie Kotzen album)

Tilt is a collaborative studio album by guitarists Greg Howe and Richie Kotzen, released in 1995 through Shrapnel Records. The collaboration was organized by Shrapnel founder Mike Varney due to his enthusiasm for both guitarists' stylistic similarities, and as a result of good sales a second album, Project, was released in 1997.

Vinnie Moore

Vincent "Vinnie" Moore (born April 14, 1964) is an American guitarist and a member of the British hard rock band UFO. Moore is one of the most influential and important guitarists to emerge from the virtuoso boom in the mid to late eighties.

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