Steve Vai

From Academic Kids

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Steve Vai at G3 in Milan, Italy, June 2004

Steven Siro "Steve" Vai (born June 6, 1960 in Carle Place, New York, USA), is an American guitarist and composer.

When growing up the young Vai became interested in Rock bands such as Jimi Hendrix, Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin which led him to take up learning the guitar. While attending Berklee College of Music, Steve began taking guitar lessons from now fellow guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani, and played in numerous local bands. It was also at this time that he became fascinated by the music of Frank Zappa, who after meeting Vai for the first time was so impressed with the abilities of the young musician, hired him to do work transcibing his seemingly endless array of experimental symphonic rock.

After leaving Zappa in 1980 he moved to California where he recorded his first album Flex-Able and performed in a couple of bands. In 1985 he replaced Yngwie Malmsteen as lead guitarist in Graham Bonnett's Alcatrazz with whom he recorded the album Disturbing the Peace: To cover the lightning guitar work of Yngwie Malmsteen Vai had to vastly improve his technique, which was quite rough at the time. Later in 1985 he joined former Van Halen front man David Lee Roth's group to record the albums Eat 'em and Smile and Skyscraper. Then in 1990 Vai stepped into guitarist Adrian Vandenberg's shoes to record with British rock-group Whitesnake after Vandenberg injured his wrist shortly before recording was due to begin for the album Slip of the Tongue.

Steve Vai continues to tour regularly, both with his own group and with his one time teacher and fellow Grammy award winning guitar instrumentalist friend Joe Satriani on the G3 series of tours. Former David Lee Roth Bassist Billy Sheehan also joined him for a world tour.

Steve Vai's music has featured in a number of feature films, including Dudes, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and Ghosts of Mars. He appeared onscreen in the 1986 Ralph Macchio movie Crossroads, playing the demonically-inspired Jack Butler. At the film's climax, Vai engages in a guitar duel with Macchio, whose guitar parts were dubbed by Vai himself. The fast-paced "neo-classical" track entitled "Eugene's Trick Bag" with which Macchio wins the competition was also composed by Vai. The piece was heavily based on Paganini's Caprice # 5, and has become a favorite apprentice-piece among many guitar students.

Vai received a Grammy Award in 1991.

Where Vai's contributions to others' material has been constrained by the largely rock or heavy-rock style of those bands, his own material is considerably more esoteric. Vai is an accomplished studio producer (he owns two: "The Mother Ship" and "The Harmony Hut") and his own recordings combine his signature guitar prowess with novel compositions and considerable use of studio and recording effects, such as the Eventide H3000 ultra harmonizer and DigiDesign's Pro-Tools Hard Disc recording system and plug-in effects architecture.

Vai owns Favored Nations, a recording and publishing company that specializes in internationally procuring and maintaining recording artists.

Vai is married with two children, Julian Angel & Fire, to Pia Maiocco the former bassist of Vixen, which can be seen in Hardbodies. He also enjoys keeping bees, which regularly produce a crop of honey that Vai sells for his foundation, (

Vai also helped design his signature Ibanez JEM series of guitars. They feature a hand grip (fondly referred to as a "monkey grip") cut into the top of the body of the guitar, a humbucker-single coil-humbucker pickup configuration, a double-locking Floyd Rose tremolo system, as well as an elaborate and extensive "Vine of Life" inlay down the neck.



Solo Albums

Appearances on Zappa albums

External links

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