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Steve Vai

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Carle Place, New York, United States (1960 – present)

Steve Siro Vai (b. 1960) is a Grammy Award winning guitarist, composer, and record producer.

Born Steven Siro Vai on the 6th June 1960 in Carle Place, New York, United States, when growing up the young Vai became interested in rock giants such as Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper (guitarist Glen Buxton), and Led Zeppelin (Jimmy Page), leading him to take up the guitar. Prior to attending Berklee College of Music, Steve frequently jammed with his teacher Joe Satriani and played in numerous local bands. He has acknowledged the influence of many guitarists, including Jeff Beck, fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth and, of course, Zappa.

Vai’s career was launched by his fascination with Zappa’s music. Vai mailed transcriptions of Zappa’s guitar solos to him, and after meeting Vai for the first time Zappa was so impressed with the abilities of the young musician, he hired him to transcribe his seemingly endless array of experimental symphonic rock. In these formative stages of his career, Vai’s talent was showcased on such songs as “Moggio” and “Stevie’s Spanking”.

While employed by Zappa, Vai would at times tour with Zappa’s band and engage in a friendly competition with the audience, wherein audience members could bring in musical scores and see if Vai could sight-read them on the spot; Vai is also known to have perfect pitch. Zappa referred to him as his “little Italian virtuoso”; he was listed in liner notes as “stunt guitarist”. Vais transcription skills can be seen in The Frank Zappa Guitar Book, a collection of transcribed solos released in 1983.

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