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     Vai, Steve (6th June 1960-Present)

    He is a virtuoso guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer born Steven Siro Vai in Carle Place, New York who started concentrating on the guitar in 1974 when he was given lessons by the well known musician Joe Satriani.

     

    He performed with several bands in his local area and formed his own called The Steve Vais and followed by going to Boston, Massachusetts, to attend the Berklee College of Music.

     

    In the late 1970s he transcribed the drum instrumental “The Black Page” by Frank Zappa for the guitar and then, along with some of his own guitar performance, sent it to Frank Zappa.  This was a good move because his transcription made such an impression that he was taken on by Frank Zappa to transcribe more guitar solos for him and these ended up on his 1979 Joe’s Garage, his 1981 Shut Up ‘n’ Play Yer Guitar and appeared in print in The Frank Zappa Guitar Book in 1982.

     

    Not only was he a transcriber, he was an overdubber on the 1981 You Are What You Is and a member of the band who made his first tour with them in 1980.  He was such a well thought of part of the band that Zappa named him his “little Italian virtuoso” and was described as performing “impossible guitar parts” or “stunt guitar” and later as a “featured guitarist” on Zappa’s Universe in 1993 which resulted him winning a Grammy Award for “Sofa”.  He was also a special guest on the Zappa plays Zappa tour staged by Dweezil Zappa in 2006.

     

    In 1982 he decided to move on and went to California to record his debut solo album Flex-Able.  The following year he performed with various bands and then in 1985 became the lead guitarist in Alcatrazz as a replacement for Yngwie Malmsteen and appeared on their Disturbing the Peace.  Later that same year he began working as a guitarist with David Lee Roth’s group and recorded the 1986 Eat ‘Em and Smile and the 1988 Skyscraper.  He was also called upon to work with

    Public Image Ltd to record their Album in 1986.

     

    In 1989 he became a member of the successful rock group Whitesnake as the replacement for Vivian Campbell and performed every guitar part on their 1989 Slip of the Tongue.  That same year he joined his old teacher Joe Santriani as a guest artist on “Feed My Frankenstein” on Alice Cooper’s Hey Stoopid.

     

    The 1990s came along and he began them by releasing his second solo album Passion and Warfare which gained platinum status and had the song “For the Love of God” voted as No. 29 in Guitar World Magazine’s reader’s poll of 100 greatest guitar solos.  Three years later he released his 1993 Sex & Religion and although there wasn’t an official tour afterwards, he did tour with Devin Townsend, who worked on the album, and various session musicians.

     

    In 1994 he recorded and wrote with Ozzy Osborne for his Ozzmosis, but he did not perform on the album itself for some reason.  A year later he decided that it was going to be too long before his album Fire Garden would be released in 1996, so brought out the 6-track EP Alien Love Secrets which contained one of his most popular songs “Tender Surrender”.

     

    He then went on to perform as one of the three outstanding guitarists in the first ever G3 project series of concerts.  The two other guitarists that he performed with were Eric Santriani and Joe Santriani and the ensuing live album and DVD G3: Live in Concert was issued in 1997. 

     

    In 1999 he brought out his The Ultra Zone with guest artists that include Stevie Ray Vaughan and Frank Zappa and he was no less busy in the new millennium when he released the 2000 Seventh Song and there was a DVD released in 2001 of him in a live performance at London’s Astoria.  Also in 2001 he won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental as the engineer and producer on No Substitutions by Larry Carlton and Steve Lukather.

     

    He went away from his usual style of concert in 2002 when he joined the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in Japan to perform the world premiere of Ichiro Nodaira’s concerto for electric guitar and 100-piece orchestra known as Fire Strings.

     

    Carrying on his links with the orchestra in 2004, the concert series The Aching Hunger, which featured several of his orchestral arrangements and some of his compositions, was performed by The Netherlands’ Metropole Orchestra.  The next year, in 2005, he premiered his The Blossom Suite for electric and classical guitar at Paris’s Chatelet Theatre with the classical guitarist Sharon Isbin.

     

    Although touring in 2006 in Zappa on Zappa, he found time to appear as a special guest with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at the Video Games Live concert.  Here he performed Halo Theme and the world premiere of a trailer for Halo 3.

     

    2007 saw the release of his album and Sound Theories, followed later by the DVD, and he appeared at the London Guitar Show.  That same year he was a guest musician on Systematic Chaos by Dream Theater and in 2009 he appeared on stage with them in their final show at the Greek Theater.  Another Grammy Award came his way also in 2009 when he received one for “Peaches and Regalia” from Zappa Plays Zappa.

     

    He and/or his work has featured in countless video games, television shows and movies that include him making an appearance in the 1986 Crossroads as Jack Butler where he embarks on a guitar duel with Ralph Macchio.  The piece they played was one of Steve’s compositions entitled “Eugene’s Trick Bag” which was influenced by “Capriccio No. 5” by Paganini.  Other films include him performing on the 1991 Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the composition of the soundtrack of the 1994 PCU and contributions to the score of the Encino Man in 1992 and the 2001 John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars.  His contribution to music for movies and television resulted in him releasing the album The Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1 in 2002.

     

    His recording output is immense and aside from performing and writing for his own albums, some of the others he has appeared on as a writer, producer and/or musician, not mentioned above, include Stronger With Each Tear by Mary J. Blige, Funk Me Tender by Randy Coven, Frozen Thought by Michael Lee Hill, Blue Planet by Robert DiMaggio, Loudspeaker by Marty Friedman, Present Company by Janis Ian, Jackson: Symphony 1 by Joe Jackson, Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster is Loose by Meat Loaf, Infinite Desire by Al Di Meola, Inferno by Motorhead, Clowns to the Left, Jokers to the Right: 1970-1982 by Gerry Rafferty, Back From the Dead by Spinal Tap, Synchestra by Devon Townsend and Birdland by The Yardbirds.

     

    As a producer he runs his own studios called The Harmony Hut and The Mothership and from these he produced his own recordings.  He has also assisted in the design of his signature guitar series by Ibanez JEM and is the owner of the publishing and recording company Favored Nations.

     

    Very involved in musical education and charity work he was a co-founder of the Make A Noise Foundation in 1988 for those who can’t afford to fund musical programs and education for themself.  To give additional financial assistance to the foundation he uses his pastime of beekeeping to help provide funds from the sale of the honey his bees produce.  He has given master classes at the Fermatta Music Academy among other educational venues and he is an official supporter of Little Kids Rock which provided music and instruments to public school children in the United States.  He is also a trustee on the board of NARAS.

     

    He continues to record and perform as a multi-award winning outstanding guitarist, with him most recently being given a Romanian Golden Stag Award.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.vai.com/AllAboutSteve/vaiography.html
    2. http://www.myspace.com/stevevai
    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Vai
    4. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:kifexqr5ldde~T1
    5. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005518/
    6. http://www.vai.com/MANF/index.html
    7. http://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/509-steve-vai
    8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passion_and_Warfare
    9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_%26_Religion
    10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_Love_Secrets
    11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_Garden
    12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G3_(tour)
    13. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elusive_Light_and_Sound,_volume_1
    14. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:kifexqr5ldde~T4
    15. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:kifexqr5ldde~2~T40B

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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