Influences: Steve Vai

Steve Vai was amother catalyst (along with Joe Satriani) in helping me to realize with a song and a dream you could release your own records on your own label, as Steve did in 1984 with his instrumental album "Flex-Able". He wrote and recorded the tracks after gigging with Frank Zappa's band for nearly four years. Since Vai is frequently listed in the liner notes of Zappa's albums as having performed "stunt" or "impossible" guitar parts, it only made sense that his own solo work would be incendiary, original, and full of advanced techniques.

As a young child, Vai was influenced by the music his parents brought to the house, such the original motion picture soundtrack to the 1961 film "West Side Story". As a 12-year-old, after hearing the guitar solo to Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker", Vai decided to begin playing the guitar. As luck would have it, Vai lived nearby a hot guitar teacher named Joe Satriani, and in 1973 began to take lessons at five dollars a pop.

Steve Vai first hit my radar back in 1983, when his instrumental composition "The Attitude Song" was published in Guitar Player magazine as a paper-thin, tear-out vinyl record. What a revelation at the time - the whammy antics, speed and 'detuned' playing was highly unusual and original. If that weren't enough, in 1986, Vai was cast in the film "Crossroads" as the devil's guitar player Jack Butler, where he cut heads with Ralph Macchio's character in an unforgettable scene I've viewed dozens of times. Vai's music is at once ethereal and virtuosic, and I would certainly consider him to be one of my top ten all-time influences.

Since "Flex-Able", Vai has continued to release new music under his own name, from 1990's incredible "Passion and Warfare" through to 2016's "Modern Primitive".

In this 41 minute video, "Steve Vai: Evolution of an Icon", Sweetwater Sound arranged to have Vai personally share with us his insights on his technique, how his style has evolved over the years, his signature Ibanez guitars, the high Synergy preamp system, and much more. Pay attention, and heed his advice when he talks about how he got from "here" to "there" - since many of us would love to get "there" as well.

Dan McAvinchey is a guitarist and composer living in Raleigh, NC.

He believes every musician or composer has the power to write, record and release their own music.

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