Virtuosity, Thy Name Vai



Winner of the Best Instrumental Rock Performance GRAMMY for “Zappa Plays Zappa”, which features him along with Napoleon Murphy Brock, at the 51st GRAMMY Awards this year, Steve Vai with his highly advanced technique and deep knowledge of music theory is rightly described as the Virtuoso in the world of guitar music. 


Vai has trained under Joe Satriani and at The Berklee College of music and acknowledges the influence of many guitarists including Jeff Beck and fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth. Hired initially as a transcriber by Frank Zappa, joined the band and toured extensively with them. Vai has done acts with Alcatrazz(replacing Yngwee Malmsteen), G3, Billy Sheehan and Ozzy Osbourne and has been associated with David Lee Roth and Whitesnake. 


While many musicians fit easily into a single category, Steve Vai’s unique musical vision remains unclassifiable. After more than 20 years, Vai continues to use unbridled guitar virtuosity and soulful artistry to explore the spectrum of human emotion. Though Vai first stepped into the spotlight in 1980 as a guitarist in Frank Zappa’s band, his contribution to music came during his solo career starting with “Flex-Able”, which set stage for “Passion and Warfare”, which expanded the lexicon of rock guitar. Ironically, two record labels dropped Vai while he recorded the breakthrough album!!


Not only did Vai’s music have a huge on influence contemporary hard rock,including James “Munky” Shaffer of Korn, Mike Eizinger of Incubus and Tom Morello of Audioslave so did his guitar. In 1987, Vai helped guitar-maker Ibanez design the JEM, and then in 1989, the Universe 7-String guitar, which provided the low-end rumble many guitarists were craving. Vai continues to work with Ibanez, and literally put himself into a recent collaboration dubbed the JEM VAI2K DNA guitar – a limited-edition release of the JEM.


Going forward, one of his major aspiration is to record the quintessential solo guitar record while he still has the dexterity to pull it off and then to become a composer. We can definitely look forward to some brilliant music from the Virtuoso.