Steve Vai is an American guitarist and composer, born June 6th 1960, making him six years old on the sixth day of the sixth month in 1966, as famously noted in the Frank Zappa book of guitar, which he transcribed, in Long Island, New York. Vai is best known for his self composed, performed and produced guitar instrumental music, but he has also played on the recordings of several other rock acts.
Steve Vai made his name playing 'stunt guitar' with the legendary rock performer, composer, music producer, and publishing mogul Frank Zappa. In the early 80's he replaced Yngwie Malmsteen as lead guitarist in Graham Bonnett's Alcatrazz. Then he joined former Van Halen front man David Lee Roth's group to record the albums Eat 'em and Smile and Skyscraper. Vai also stepped into guitarist Adrian Vandenberg's shoes to record with British rock legends Whitesnake (after Adrian Vandenberg broke his arm in a skateboarding accident) 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). Steve recently teamed up with former David Lee Roth band member Bassist Billy Sheehan for a world tour.
Steve Vai's music has featured in a number of feature films, including Ghosts of Mars and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. He appeared onscreen in the 1986 Ralph Macchio vehicle Crossroads, playing the demonically-inspired Jack Butler. At the film's climax, Vai engages in a guitar duel with Macchio (with Ry Cooder dubbing Macchio's part). The 32nd note quick tempo pseudo-classical-baroque track (entitled Eugene's Trick Bag) with which Macchio wins the competition was composed by Vai, heavily based on Paganini's Caprice Op. 1 # 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. His own recordings include:
Passion and Warfare (1990)
Sex and Religion (1993)~2
Alien Love Secrets (1995)
Fire Garden (1996)
The Ultra Zone (1999)
The Seventh Song (2000)
Alive in an Ultra World (2001)
~1 Features the keyboard, vocal and voodoo butter underpants of Tommy Mars, another former Frank Zappa band member.
~2 Features the drummer Terry Bozzio, another former Frank Zappa band member.
Steve Vai owns 'Favored Nations', a recording and publishing business which specialises in looking after both newly discovered and already high profile recording artists from around the world.
Vai is married with two children to Pia. He also enjoys keeping bees, which regularly produce a crop of honey that Steve sells for his chosen charity every year through his web site.
Vai also helped design his signature Ibanez JEM series of guitars. They feature a unique, but odd, handgrip cut into the top of the body of the guitar. They also use a humbucker-single coil-humbucker pickup set-up and a locking tremolo bar.