In 1970, a teenager in Westbury, New York vowed to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Jimi Hendrix. That 14 year old boy was destined to become a future star, a legend of Rock music. His name was Joe Satriani.
Starting off as a drummer, then shifting to guitar and studying music with Jazz musicians, Satriani took some time to find his feet in the music industry. Soon after picking up the instrument, he did mentor some of the future guitar mavericks like Kirk Hammett from Metallica, Steve Vai, Andy Timmons and Alex Skolnick from Testament, but he was still far from producing one good album.
While his student Steve Vai was garnering worldwide fame with Van Halen, Satrianiplayed for lesser known bands and recuperated from a heavy credit card debt he incurred in producing his first album, ‘Not of this Earth’. It wasn’t the brightest of beginnings but among accomplished musicians he was getting recognition as the dark horse of his generation with mentions in the interviews of his protégé, Steve Vai and various other magazines. The moment of breakthrough came with his second album, Surfing with the Alien, and there he proved himself a musician of a distinguished league. It became the first all-instrumental album to feature really high in the chartbusters’ list. The album sealed his place as a formidable rock guitarist and to this day, remains one of his most successful productions.
Joe Satriani was rising and rising really fast. He followed the success of his second album with a brief stint in production with the death metal band ‘Possessed’, released a couple of more albums, including his most popular 1992 album, The Extremist. Satriani was now known on five continents and had the offer to join and do the lead guitar for Deep Purple but hehad his eyes set on a solo career and having signed a lucrative multi-album deal with Sony, he was already on his way to further those ambitions. Today, we know Satraini as a solo virtuoso, not as the lead guitarist of some band, though he could have done that also.
Satriani is a highly technical guitarist who has mastered a number of styles: he is a top guitar shredder, one of the best in the world. Skilled in legato, two hand tapping and arpeggio tapping, Satriani also excels at whammy bar effects and a technique, largely involving hammer-ons and pull-offs, that results in smooth, flowing passages. The command on so many playing styles lends him such versatility that he can partner with musicians of very disparate styles and it really shows in his fairly long list of collaborations.
Satriani is such a prolific artist and his collaborations are so many that we can’t touch upon everything. For now, we shall only mentiona few of his major associations in the form of joint production of studio albums and concert tours. To begin with, his G3 concert tour is well known and a number of accomplished guitarists accompany him on stage, names that include Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, John Petrucci from Dream Theater, and many more. Here, Satch, as he is known among his fans, is hitting it with Vai and Malmsteen on one of his G3 tours.
And he has always been collaborating with some big name or the other, even when he wasn’t a star. Here is Mick Jagger from The Rolling Stones and Satriani recreating the song ‘Honky Tonk Women’live at Tokyo Dome, 1988.
Collaboration with Brian May from Queen in ‘Flying in a blue dream’.
Satriani is known to favour certain pick-ups and amplifiers. Also, he prefers using distortion pedal with clean channels instead of built in overdrive channels. This fondness for certain specifications of the instrument to complement his playing style led him to design his own guitars, and that resulted in the current Ibanez JS series of guitars. It is a fairly extensive series that incorporates every preference Satraini has in terms of body, design and sound of the guitar.
Also Related: Steve Vai: The maverick rock legend
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