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Steve Vai Biography

Home > Music > V > Vai, Steve > Biography

Birth Name: Steven Siro Vai
Born: 1960/06/06
Birth Place: Carle Place, New York, USA
Years Active: 1980 – present
Genres: Instrumental Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Progressive Rock

Steve Vai was born on June 6, 1960 in Carle Place, New York, and is a world renowned guitarist, songwriter and producer. Vai began his career as a music transcriptionist for Frank Zappa, and toured in Zappa's band from 1980 to 1982. Vai began a solo career in 1983 and has collaborated with a number of artists over the years, including David Lee Roth and Whitesnake. In 1999 Vai started his own record label Favored Nations.

Vai began playing guitar at 13 and in 1974 he began guitar lessons with Joe Satriani. He was influenced by guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Brian May, Jimmy Page, Glen Buxton and jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth. Vai attended the Berklee College of Music and after graduation he began working for Frank Zappa.

By 1980, Vai had moved beyond transcribing Zappa’s music and became a full-fledged member of Zappa’s touring band. After parting ways with Zappa in 1982 to pursue a solo career, Vai moved to California. It was here he recorded his debut album, “Flex-Able,” in 1983 and released it a year later in 1984.

Vai's popularity status became widespread as he was catapulted into the mainstream public eye when in 1985 he joined David Lee Roth's post-Van Halen supergroup, The David Lee Roth band. The band consisted of Roth on vocals, Vai on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass and Gregg Bissonette on drums. The foursome's debut album, “Eat 'em and Smile,” was met with both critical acclaim and commercial success, peaking at #4 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

The band's second album, “Skyscraper,” produced by Roth and Vai, arrived in 1988 and peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200. In 1989 after the “Skyscraper” tour, Vai departed the band and the remaining members went their separate ways. Vai joined Whitesnake for a time, replacing Vivian Campbell, and played on the Alice Cooper album “Hey Stoopid,” along with Satriani. While Vai continued to collaborate with other musicians, he maintained a solo career.

1990 saw Vai release his critically acclaimed solo album, “Passion and Warfare.” In 1994 he began to write for and work with Ozzy Osbourne, in addition to receiving a Grammy Award for his performance on the Frank Zappa song “Sofa.”

2002 saw Vai perform with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan, while 2005 saw Vai in Paris performing a dual-guitar (electric and classical) piece, “The Blossom Suite,” with classical guitarist Sharon Isbin. Vai has also performed as a special guest guitarist with previous Zappa band members in the group, Zappa Plays Zappa, led by Zappa's son Dweezil. Vai's album “Sound Theories, was recorded with the Metropole Orchestra in Netherlands in 2004 and 2005 and released in 2007. His eighth solo studio album, “The Story of Light,” was issued in 2012.

Vai continues to tour regularly with his own group, in addition to touring with long-time friend and fellow guitarist Joe Satriani on the G3 series of tours.