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Steve Vai

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Steven Siro Vai (; born June 6, 1960) is an American guitarist, composer, singer, songwriter, and producer. A three-time Grammy Award winner and fifteen-time nominee, Vai started his music career in 1978 at the age of eighteen as a transcriptionist for Frank Zappa, and played in Zappa's band from 1980 to 1983. He embarked on a solo career in 1983 and has released eight solo albums to date. He has recorded and toured with Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth, and Whitesnake, as well as recording with artists such as Public Image Ltd, Mary J. Blige, Spinal Tap, and Ozzy Osbourne. Additionally, Vai has toured with live-only acts G3, Zappa Plays Zappa, and the Experience Hendrix tour, as well as headlining international tours.

Steve Vai
Vai in 2015
Background information
Birth nameSteven Siro Vai
Born (1960-06-06)June 6, 1960 (age 61)
Carle Place, New York, U.S.
Genres
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1978–present
Labels
Associated acts
Websitevai.com

Vai has been described as a "highly individualistic player" and part of a generation of "heavy rock and metal virtuosi who came to the fore in the 1980s". He released his first solo album Flex-Able in 1984, while his most successful release, Passion and Warfare (1990), was described as "the richest and best hard rock guitar-virtuoso album of the '80s". He was voted the "10th Greatest Guitarist" by Guitar World magazine, and has sold over 15 million records.

Contents

Early life

Steve Vai, a descendant of Italian immigrants, was born in Carle Place, New York on June 6, 1960. He is the fourth son of John and Theresa Vai. He described his first experiences with music as, "at the age of five I walked up to [a] piano, hit a note, and noticed that to the right the notes go higher and to the left the notes go lower. In that very moment, I had a full-on epiphany. I was flooded with the instinctual realization of how music was created and how it worked from a theoretical standpoint—the whole language of music was very obvious. I also understood immediately, instinctually, and unequivocally something that has only deepened through the years that the creation of music is an infinite personal expression. I realized that I could do this, I could make music, and it could be whatever I want."

It was a year later, at the age of six, that Vai experienced his first introduction to the guitar, remembering that, "I saw this nine-year-old boy playing the guitar in my grade school auditorium, and that was another epiphany that I had. It was my first recognition of the instrument. When I saw that guitar and I saw this kid playing it, I knew instinctually that I was going to play the guitar someday, and that it would be my instrument. Don't ask me how I knew, I just knew. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen."

As a young child, Vai was influenced by the music his parents had listened to. One album in particular that he cites as his "musical awakening" was the original motion picture soundtrack to the 1961 film West Side Story. At age eleven, Vai was introduced to the contemporary rock and progressive music of the era, and after hearing the guitar solo to Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" at age twelve, decided to begin playing the guitar.

In 1973, Vai began to take guitar lessons from fellow New York native Joe Satriani, and played in local bands (The Ohio Express, Circus, and Rayge) throughout his high school years. Vai cites artists such as Jimmy Page, Brian May, Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, as well as jazz fusion guitarists Allan Holdsworth and Al Di Meola as some of his major influences in that time period. In 1978, to further pursue his interest in music composition and theory, Vai attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. While at Berklee, Vai began working for Frank Zappa as a transcriptionist, and in the middle of his fourth semester, moved to California to start his career as a session and touring artist for Zappa. Also while at Berklee, Vai met his future spouse Pia Maiocco, with whom he has been together since; they have two children. In 2003, Vai was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee.

Early music career (1978–1986)

Steve Vai (on guitar in between the drums and keyboard, to the right), Frank Zappa and band during a concert at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York (October 25, 1980)

In 1978, Vai sent both a notated transcription of Frank Zappa's "The Black Page", and a recording of his college band, Morning Thunder, to Zappa. Impressed by this, Zappa responded by putting Vai on salary as a transcriptionist to transcribe his work, which included pieces from the Joe's Garage and Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar albums. After leaving Berklee College of Music and moving to California, Vai auditioned for and became a full-time member of Zappa's band, going on his first tour with Zappa in late 1980. Zappa often referred to Vai as his "little Italian virtuoso", and Vai is frequently listed in the liner notes of Zappa's albums as having performed "stunt" or "impossible" guitar parts.

Vai was a featured artist on the 1993 release Zappa's Universe, and in 2006, Vai appeared as a special guest on Dweezil Zappa's Zappa Plays Zappa tour; both projects won Vai a Grammy Award.

After moving on from Zappa's employ in 1983, Vai bought a house in Sylmar, Los Angeles, where he built his first professional studio. During this period, Vai formed two bands (The Classified and 777) as well as writing and recording a large amount of music that was not originally intended for release. Out of this material, Vai compiled his first studio album Flex-Able. He created his own record label, Akashic Records (later Light Without Heat Records), which he used to take Flex-Able directly to distribution channels. Flex-Able was released in January 1984.

Vai began his rise to public acclaim in 1983 when, shortly before the release of Flex-Able, his composition "The Attitude Song" was published in Guitar Player magazine. The song centered itself on a main guitar riff in the time signature 7/16, played over a rhythm section centered in 4/4. Each following section of the song showcased a number of specialized techniques (such as two-handed tapping, whammy bar acrobatics, sweep picking, alternate picking, multi-part harmonies, and odd phrasing) used in angular and exaggerated ways that were unique to the song at the time. Interest from the public eye grew more so when Vai's song "Blue Powder" (a demonstration for the Carvin X100b amplifier) was published in Guitar Player as well, which showed the virtuoso side of Vai's compositional process. Also in 1986, Vai was cast in the film Crossroads as the Devil's guitar player "Jack Butler". In the famous "duel scene" between Vai and Ralph Macchio's character, Vai wrote and performed all guitar parts with the exception of the slide guitar, which was performed by Ry Cooder.

In between solo work, Vai replaced Yngwie Malmsteen in June 1984 as the lead guitarist of Alcatrazz, with whom he recorded the album Disturbing the Peace. Vai left shortly after the subsequent tour to join David Lee Roth's band.

With David Lee Roth (1985–1989)

In 1985, Vai joined David Lee Roth's post-Van Halen band as lead guitarist, together with former Talas bassist Billy Sheehan on bass; and former Maynard Ferguson drummer Gregg Bissonette on drums. The foursome's debut album Eat 'Em and Smile, released on July 7, 1986, was both a critical and commercial success, reaching number four on the Billboard 200 albums chart and selling over two million copies. Guitar World magazine editor Brad Tolinski commented on Vai's playing at the time, saying that "Steve Vai's guitar wizardry is so profound that in earlier times he would have been burned as a witch." Retrospectively, Eat 'Em and Smile is frequently evaluated as one of the greatest rock albums of the 1980s. The group's Eat 'Em and Smile Tour began in August 1986 and continued through February 1987.

Roth's subsequent album Skyscraper, released in 1988, was produced by both Roth and Vai. Like its predecessor, the album was a commercial success, reaching number six on the Billboard 200 chart. In 1989, following the successful Skyscraper Tour, Vai departed from the band. He was replaced by Cacophony guitarist Jason Becker.

In 1985, after having joined Roth's band, Vai designed the JEM guitar, a unique instrument that incorporated a series of groundbreaking designs that have since become staples in feature throughout the guitar industry. Vai began working with Ibanez in 1986 to develop the guitar, and the first production Ibanez JEM 777 guitars were released in 1987.

1990s

From 1985 to 1990, Vai recorded Passion and Warfare at his home studio, his second studio solo album. After leaving Roth's band in 1989, Vai bought out of his Capitol Records contract and signed on with Relativity Records for the release of Passion and Warfare, which was completed shortly after he began recording the guitar parts for Whitesnake's Slip of the Tongue album, where he replaced the injured Adrian Vandenberg.

Upon its release in November 1989, Slip of the Tongue sold over three million copies worldwide, reaching number 10 on the Billboard 200 while Vai joined the band on their thirteen-month world tour.

In May 1990, Vai released Passion and Warfare through Relativity Records, and following its release, the album had reached number 18 in the Billboard 200, selling over a million and a half copies worldwide. Passion and Warfare won Vai a number of awards such as Guitar World and Guitar Player's "Best Album" and "Best Rock Guitarist" awards. Passion and Warfare has been cited as one of the most pertinent instrumental albums released.

1990 also saw the release of the Ibanez Universe seven-string guitar co-designed by Vai in conjunction with Ibanez. Vai left Whitesnake in 1990 to pursue his own musical avenues, and formed a band that included Devin Townsend on vocals, T. M. Stevens on bass, and Terry Bozzio on drums. The group released Sex & Religion on July 23, 1993, that was described as visceral in nature, combining a compositional and progressive metal rhythm section with Devin Townsend's vocal arrangements. After the following tour in support of the album, the group disbanded. Vai began working with Ozzy Osbourne in 1994, with whom he wrote and recorded the Ozzmosis album. Due to conflicts, the album was re-written and recorded with Zakk Wylde on guitar. In 1994, Vai won a Grammy award for his performance of "Sofa", from Zappa's Universe.

While recording his fourth studio album Fire Garden, Vai took time to record and release the stripped down EP Alien Love Secrets. A departure from the often highly compositional and heavily produced style of his previous projects, the seven-track EP was recorded in four weeks and released through Relativity/Epic Records on March 21, 1995. Vai cites this record as one of his favorites, saying "The recording and release of Alien Love Secrets marked another turning point in my personal evolution. I was more concerned with making the record that I wanted to make, and not worry about what some others thought I should be doing."

On September 17, 1996, Vai released Fire Garden, 19-track double album, through Epic, with the first half being primarily instrumental while the second half featured Vai on vocals. After the release of Fire Garden, Vai joined his former teacher Joe Satriani, along with guitarist Eric Johnson, for the second installment of the ongoing G3 concert tours. On each G3 tour, three guitar-centric headlining acts are chosen to perform their own sets, and then collectively jam to fan favorite songs at the end of the show. G3: Live in Concert, a video of the 1996 tour was filmed in Columbus, Ohio and released on June 3, 1997.

In 1998, Vai independently released a performance footage DVD of Alien Love Secrets. Also in 1998, Vai started the Make a Noise Foundation with his then-manager Ruta Sepetys. The goal of the foundation was to provide funding for musical education to those otherwise unable to attain it. Today, Vai often auctions items in his possession with proceeds going to the foundation.

At the close of the decade, Vai provided guitar for Joe Jackson's Symphony No. 1, released in 1999 and winner of the 2001 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album.

2000s

Vai performing in 2001

In December 2001, Vai recorded two performances at The Astoria in London, with his band The Breed (composed of former David Lee Roth bandmate Billy Sheehan, guitarist/pianist Tony MacAlpine, guitarist Dave Weiner, and drummer Virgil Donati). This live show was released independently in DVD format as Steve Vai: Live at the Astoria, London in 2003, and was Vai's first of many successful live concert DVD projects. In 2004, Vai released twelve tracks from the DVD in an online only release.

2001 saw the limited release of The Secret Jewel Box, a conceptual ten-CD box set containing unique material from various eras of Vai's career. Four compilation albums (The Elusive Light and Sound Vol. 1; Mystery Tracks – Archives Vol. 3; Various Artists – Archives Vol. 4; and Vai: Piano Reductions, Vol. 1) included as part of the box set, were released to the public both in 2001 and the years following. Also in 2001, Vai's record label Favored Nations released No Substitutions: Live in Osaka. The release, which Vai himself produced and engineered, won him his second Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Album in February 2002.

While most widely recognized for his stature as a rock guitar player, Vai is also a musical composer fluent in the composition and arranging of orchestral music. In May 2004, Vai premiered "The Aching Hunger", a project commissioned by the Netherlands Programme Service and performed with the Netherlands' Metropole Orchestra. "The Aching Hunger" performances consisted of two parts: the first showcasing Vai's original contemporary orchestral compositions, and the second consisting of Vai (on guitar) playing newly arranged material from his catalog with the orchestra. This project yielded both the Visual Sound Theories DVD and the Sound Theories Vol. I & II album, which were recorded in 2005 during multiple "Aching Hunger" performances and released in June 2007. While "The Aching Hunger" and its following releases started Vai's public career as an orchestral composer, Vai had been composing since he began a music theory class (taught by Bill Westcott) in high school. In speaking of Westcott, Vai says "He taught me how to write, compose and appreciate music. There was no greater musical influence in my life."

In 2005, Vai released Real Illusions: Reflections, the first installment in an ongoing three-part trilogy concept album. Each of the three installments to the series contain material (songs, lyrics, and both spoken and written narration) with particular relationships to the storyline, purposefully left out of order. Upon the release of the third installment, Vai intends to complete a fourth album of material, which will then be released with the previous three installments and completed storyline in order. In speaking of the storyline, Vai says "It's a human interest story, about the human condition. ... It's a story about this man who has a traumatic experience in his life, and it drives him insane. We see the story through his eyes. It also involves the town he lives in and this stranger that enters the town who's like a shaman; he builds this giant edifice, like a reflecting pond, and when people come to it they see aspects of their personalities and identities and discover things about themselves. There's some comedy involved, too, but it's pretty esoteric. It's about a lot of lofty principles, so it's not a bad idea to dish this all out slowly." The installments to the series will be released over periods of time, with the second, The Story of Light, having been released in 2012.

In 2006, Vai joined the Zappa Plays Zappa tour as a special guest, alongside additional Zappa band alumni Terry Bozzio and Napoleon Murphy Brock. In 2008, for his performance of "Peaches en Regalia" from the Zappa Plays Zappa tour, Vai won his third Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Having always enjoyed the aspect of teaching and sharing his experiences in life and in the music business,[citation needed] Vai began a series of "Alien Guitar Secrets" masterclasses in 2006- a touring masterclass in which Vai holds open forum discussion about his own experiences in the music industry, explains the key principles to understanding success, plays to backing tracks (often inviting class attendees to jam with him), answers questions, articulates key points of guitar technique, and more importantly goes beyond the technique and into the more profound esoteric principles at play (see Notable contributions for more on this).

In support of Sound Theories Vol. I & II and Visual Sound Theories, Vai put together a new band for a five-month world tour of the United States, Europe, South America, and Australia. While evaluating unique options for the band (which included ideas for a horn section or percussion section), Vai began auditioning violin players to complement the new lineup. This new band, known as the String Theories band, featured previous The Breed members Jeremy Colson (drums) and Dave Weiner (guitar and sitar), along with new members Bryan Beller (bass), Alex DePue (violin), and Ann Marie Calhoun (violin). During a month of twelve- to fifteen-hour a day rehearsals, Vai and the band perfected the performance (which consisted of pieces from Vai's catalog, arranged by Vai to include the two violins). The tour began in June 2007 and ended in December the same year.

Midway through the String Theories tour in 2007, Vai recorded a performance at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, which yielded the acclaimed 2009 live concert DVD and Blu-ray release of Where the Wild Things Are. Certified gold in the United States and Canada, Where the Wild Things Are showcased the diverse musical range of the String Theories band, with pieces such as the visceral Grammy-nominated "Now We Run", to the dynamic ballad "Angel Food".

2007 also marked the 20th anniversary of the production of the Ibanez JEM guitar, a milestone which was commemorated with the 20th anniversary JEM model. Made of an acrylic body with three-dimensional "swirl painted" interior, this guitar can be seen in the beginning of the Where the Wild Things Are DVD. In 2008, Vai announced the release of his signature Ibanez Jemini distortion pedal, a twin distortion pedal with both a custom overdrive and lead distortion section.

2010–present

Vai performing with Led Zeppelin tribute band Zepparella, May 2017

2010 marked the twentieth anniversary of the production of the Ibanez Universe guitar, which was commemorated with a twentieth anniversary Universe model. A reissue of the early 1990s Universe 77 MC (multi-color swirl), the model included a new five-piece maple/bubinga Universe neck and original swirl-paint job by Darren Johansen (the painter of the original Universe 77 MC guitars).

In February 2010, Vai announced the introduction of "VaiTunes", a platform used to release digital-only singles via iTunes and other digital media outlets. In April, Vai performed with Mary J. Blige, Orianthi, Randy Jackson, and Travis Barker for a rendition of the Led Zeppelin classic "Stairway to Heaven", on the hit television show American Idol.

October 2010 saw more movement from Vai as a composer, with the premiere of two original symphonies at the Steve Vai Festival in Groningen, the Netherlands, and performed by the North Netherlands Orchestra. Shortly after the festival, Vai embarked on the Experience Hendrix tour (along with Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Susan Tedeschi, Billy Cox, Vernon Reid, Robert Randolph, Jonny Lang, Brad Whitford, and others) for a nationwide tour of the United States.

In March 2011, Vai (in conjunction with the online education division of Berklee College of Music) set a Guinness World Record for the world's largest online guitar lesson. The lesson was held as a promotion for Berklee's online "Steve Vai Guitar Techniques" course, which Vai helped to construct. In April 2011, Vai (along with music and technology entrepreneur Andy Alt) announced the launch of GuitarTV, an online streaming website dedicated to bringing free guitar-related content to the community of guitar players around the world.

Vai's eighth studio album, The Story of Light, was released in August 2012 as the second installment in the Real Illusions concept album trilogy. The Story of Light tour, which began on the month of the album's release, spanned 254 engagements in 52 different countries, ending in September 2014. This tour yielded the 2015 release of Vai's fourth live DVD project Stillness in Motion, filmed in October 2012 during his Story of Light tour at the Club Nokia in Los Angeles. Released on April 7, the double-disc set contained a copy of the Stillness in Motion concert footage and a special bonus feature disc called The Space Between the Notes. The latter is a complete chronological timeline of the Story of Light tour, with a video or picture representation of each show of all of the 254 engagements attended.

2014 saw the announcement of a new, intensive guitar camp called the "Vai Academy", which was an evolution of the Alien Guitar Secrets masterclass. Each year the camp is held, Vai creates a syllabus with a particular theme and invites special guests to help him teach it. During the day, Vai and the special guests (of whom have included Guthrie Govan, Jeff Baxter, Vernon Reid, Eric Johnson, Sonny Landreth, and others) hold classes in which they add their insight and perspective to the theme. Each evening, Vai and the special guests jam with the campers. The themes have included 2014's Vai Academy- Song Evolution Camp, and 2015's Vai Academy: All About the Guitar.

Vai has announced an upcoming 2016 release commemorating the 25th anniversary of Passion and Warfare. This release contains remastered songs from the album, as well as the inclusion of a new album of material written from the time between the recording of Passion and Warfare and his first solo album Flex-Able. After the release, Vai held a world tour in which he played the entire Passion and Warfare album, along with material from the new release. The tour would continue during the first half of 2017.

In 2016, Vai played an uncredited guitar solo on the track "Go!," from the album Junk by French electronic band M83. In April an May of the same year, Vai took part in the Generation Axe tour, alongside Tosin Abasi, Nuno Bettencourt, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Zakk Wylde. Starting in June, Vai embarked on the Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary World Tour, where he played the album in its entirety for the first time.

Vai is a featured artist on the track "Do You Feel Love" from Jacob Collier's 2019 album Djesse Vol. 2.

In 2021, Steve Vai was featured on a track called "Lost Children of the Universe" from the Star One Project of Ayreon. Also on the track are Roy Khan, Tony Martin, Marcela Bovio and Irene Jansen

Video games

"Juice", from Alien Love Secrets, was featured on the 1996 video game Formula One for the PlayStation. Vai's guitar work also appeared in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. David Lee Roth's "Yankee Rose" was featured on Vice City's soundtrack, as well as "God Blessed Video" by Alcatrazz, as part of the Lazlow-led, 1980s rock/metal radio station "V-Rock." In 2004, Vai was featured on the soundtrack to the Xbox video game Halo 2, performing a heavy rock guitar rendition of the "Halo theme", known as "Halo Theme (MJOLNIR Mix)". He also performed on the track "Never Surrender". He later featured in the second volume of the soundtrack, where he performed on the track "Reclaimer". Vai returned to re-record his Halo work for the Halo 2 Anniversary Original Soundtrack, which was released in 2014 and included as part of the anniversary edition of Halo 2. In an interview shot during the development of Halo 2 Anniversary, Vai reveals that his part in the “MJOLNIR Mix” was a last minute inclusion in the song.

In 2008, Vai's song "For the Love of God" and "Halo Theme (MJOLNIR Mix)" were featured as downloadable tracks for the game Guitar Hero 3. A live version of "For the Love of God" was also available on the Rock Band Network service, as well as the song "Get the Hell Out of Here" from his 2002 compilation album The Elusive Light and Sound Vol. 1 on March 4, 2010. "The Attitude Song" and a live version of "The Crying Machine" were both also added to the Rock Band Network. A re-recording of "Speeding" is featured in the 2010 video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock for Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3.

Films

In 1986, Vai was cast in director Walter Hill's film Crossroads as the Devil's guitar player "Jack Butler." In the "cutting heads" scene between Vai's Jack Butler and Ralph Macchio's Eugene "Lightning" Martone, Vai wrote and performed all guitar parts with the exception of the slide guitar (which was performed by Ry Cooder). The main body of the final piece performed in the duel scene (the fast-paced neoclassical track "Eugene's Trick Bag") was based heavily on Niccolò Paganini's Capriccio number 5. The Crossroads duel appeared on the 2002 album The Elusive Light and Sound Vol. 1.

In 1987, Vai performed "Amazing Grace" in the film Dudes. In 1991, Vai performed on the film Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, as well as on 1992's Encino Man, PCU (1994), and John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars (where he played on the tracks "Ghosts of Mars" and "Ghost Poppin'").

In 2010, Vai's record label Favored Nations produced and released the award-winning original motion picture Crazy. An independent film, Crazy was inspired by the life and music of the guitarist Hank Garland.

At the age of thirteen, after having purchased his first guitar and begun taking his first lessons from fellow New York native Joe Satriani, Vai became obsessed with the discipline of practice. Vai's practice routine, consisting of a rigid and structured regimen of ten-to-fifteen hour-a-day practice schedules, became the basis of his work ethic for the rest of his career. During his employment by Frank Zappa, Vai transcribed and played very rhythmically complex music, believing that if started slow and perfected, any piece of music could be played.

Vai's first solo album, Flex-able, began his career as a solo artist in 1984. During the period of time that the album was recorded, Vai was heavily influenced by his previous tenure in Frank Zappa's band. Originally not intended for release, Flex-able expressed a certain creative "quirky" and "angular" freedom in the eclectic nature of Vai's writing style. Passion and Warfare, Vai's second solo album, expressed a more mature and evolved "signature" style but retained a certain freedom of unfettered inspiration that would continue to influence Vai's future releases. In speaking of his inspiration, Vai has said that it comes to him in many forms (even from the flowers pushed up against a fence outside of his studio, which he transcribed and used in the ninth track "Weeping China Doll", from The Story of Light. While expressing that he is not continuously inspired, Vai uses a concept he calls "musical meditation" to enter a state of consciousness that he calls "The Ultra Zone". When inside this un-critical frame of mind, Vai is able to achieve inspiration in the form of musical ideas (often in forms of melody or rhythm). For these moments of inspiration, Vai created what he calls the "Infinity Shelf", a drive of thousands of snippets of song ideas that he has collected over his entire career. These esoteric principles are taught by Vai during his Alien Guitar Secrets masterclasses, among a host of other information.

Vai's playing style utilizes specialized guitar techniques (such as two-handed tapping, alternate picking, legato, hybrid picking, sweep picking, whammy bar acrobatics, and circular vibrato) in his music, as well as a wide range of recording techniques.

Work with Frank Zappa

As a transcriptionist for Frank Zappa, Vai transcribed some of Zappa's most rhythmically complex music, using a range of conceptualizations for the notation of rhythmic music. Vai says "While transcribing the material, I was often confronted with situations that led me to reach into the intuitional areas of my imagination to come up with various notational devices and constructions that I had never seen before. I soon discovered that many contemporary composers were then (and are still) using these notations". These concepts can be seen throughout the "Frank Zappa Guitar Book", which were composed of Vai's guitar and drum transcriptions from various Zappa albums. Vai toured with Zappa from 1980 to 1983, performing selections of this technically demanding music with Zappa's band at the time.

JEM, PIA and Universe guitars

Vai designed the Ibanez JEM guitar, a unique instrument that incorporated a series of groundbreaking designs that have since become staples in feature throughout the guitar industry, in 1985. In speaking of the development of the guitar, Vai says, "Stratocasters had whammy bars—which were fantastic—but they were very limited, were always going out of tune, and had single-coil pickups. Les Pauls had humbuckers—which gave you that real scream in the bridge position—but no whammy bar, and I didn't like the way they sat. Neither guitar had twenty-four frets. So I went to a guitar shop in Hollywood, where I had these elements implemented into a guitar (what would have been considered a Superstrat at the time). The guitar was designed with a sharper body shape, a large cutaway around the neck, twenty-four frets, a fully floating tremolo system, a specially wired five-way pickup selector switch, and an output jack angled on the side of the body (so that when you step on the cable, it doesn't pull out of your guitar). I knew of course that these features would eventually be taken and used in other guitars, so I did something completely preposterous: I said, 'Put a handle in it!' That way, during videos and photoshoots I could swing the guitar around."

Vai had several custom prototypes of these guitars built (which were used on the Eat 'Em and Smile tour) by Joe "Jem" Despagni, a custom guitar luthier and friend of Vai's. Due to Vai's highly coveted position in Roth's band, many guitar companies were eager to propose endorsement opportunities. In response to these offers, Vai sent out the specifications of the JEM guitar, detailing that the company that returned the best guitar would be given the endorsement. Dissatisfied with the guitars returned and unwilling to compromise, Vai held out on a guitar endorsement until Ibanez approached him, sending him an instrument superior to that of the other companies and willing to follow his instructions. After the pre-production prototypes were perfected, the first production Ibanez JEM 777 guitars were unveiled at the NAMM Show in 1987. Since its original 1987 release, the JEM has become one of the longest-running and most successful signature series guitars in history, with its sister guitar, the Ibanez RG, being the second highest-selling guitar (behind the Fender Stratocaster) on the market.

Another design by Vai was the Ibanez Universe, the first production seven-string guitar, which was released in 1989. The Universe incorporated many of the aspects that made the JEM a unique instrument (2 octave fretboard, full floating tremolo, humbucker/single coil/humbucker pickup configuration, angled output jack and deeper body cutaways), with an added low 'B' string, allowing for new low-range sonic possibilities. Used by Vai on much of Passion and Warfare and all of Whitesnake's Slip of the Tongue, the Universe was a large stepping stone for the burgeoning Nu-metal genre (with bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, Fear Factory and Meshuggah having adopted the instrument and incorporating it into their signature sound).

On April 4th of 2020 the Ibanez PIA was introduced, which Vai says is the modernisation and maturing of his original JEM. The PIA model (named after his wife Pia Maiocco), features an alder body and a 5-piece maple / walnut neck with 24 frets, rosewood fretboard with the usual floral inlays. The neck is styled in the classic Ibanez wizard III neck - 430mmR neck radius. The primary way model differs from the JEM for its softer body curves and a Petal Grip handle replacing the original Monkey Grip cutout. It also sports DiMarzio UtoPIA pickups in an HSH configuration, gold hardware and a Prestige locking vibrato unit.

Alien Guitar Secrets masterclasses

Having always enjoyed the aspect of teaching and sharing his experiences in life and in the music business, Vai began a series of "Alien Guitar Secrets" masterclasses in 2006- a touring masterclass in which Vai holds open forum discussion about his own experiences in the music industry, explains the key principles to understanding success, plays to backing tracks (often inviting class attendees to jam with him), answers questions, articulates key points of guitar technique, and more importantly goes beyond the technique and into the more profound esoteric principles at play. Vai details certain concepts he has discovered that have helped him in all areas of his life and career, both in playing guitar/ musically as well as spiritually. Vai accessibly shares these concepts with masterclass participants using examples from his own experiences, delving into the ongoing process of identifying the self-critical nature of one's own thoughts. Vai explains the techniques and exercises he uses to circumnavigate one's own insecurities and thoughts of self-doubt, and encourages masterclass participants to use these tools in their own lives. Often embarking on masterclass tours through Europe, South America, and Russia, Vai considers this ongoing series of classes as one of his most important contributions.

Eventide H3000 Ultra-Harmonizer

Guitar effects manufacturer Eventide approached Vai in the mid-1980s to contribute unique ideas for their H3000 effects unit. Vai suggested many specific concepts, such as diatonic pitch change and multi-voice harmony, that were used in the unit and have since become standard algorithms in guitar effects processors.

DiMarzio pickups

In 1993, Vai's signature series high-output "Evolution" humbucker pickup set was released by DiMarzio. The Evolution pickups use DiMarzio's patented "Dual-Resonance" design. The "EVO 2" humbucker, a lower output model, was released in 2004.

Carvin Legacy amplifier

In 1997, Vai had begun working with the Carvin Corporation to design a signature series of Legacy amplifiers, which were used on his 1999 Epic Records release The Ultra Zone. The original Legacy I model was released in 1999, with the most recent Legacy III being released in 2012.

Touring

In the 1990s, Vai began touring in European and Asian countries (such as Russia and China) as well as South America, often having been the first American rock act in history to have performed in these areas. In 2014, Vai performed on the Chinese television station BTV's Spring Festival Global Gala, a program broadcast to over two billion viewers. With the broadcasting of this event on January 26, 2014, Vai became the first rock artist ever broadcast on a Chinese television program.

Vai's FLO guitar in 2014

Vai's personal studio, The Harmony Hut, is a large edifice located in his backyard equipped with a full control room and performance room. The studio, built in 2011, is where Vai currently produces, records, and mixes his new material. Vai has two main signature series Ibanez JEM six-string guitars (dubbed "EVO" and "FLO III") that he uses live and in the studio. "EVO", a prototype Ibanez JEM 7VWH, was received in 1993 while developing Vai's signature DiMarzio Evolution pickups (hence the name of the guitar), and "FLO III" is a basswood Ibanez Los Angeles Custom Shop JEM 7VWH equipped with a Fernandes Sustainer system and a DiMarzio PAF Pro pickup in bridge position. Since early 2021, Steve has been frequently using the 1st prototype of the Onyx Black Ibanez PIA along with "EVO" and "FLO III", which he nicknamed "NILE" (as seen in the "Knappsack" video and various other appearances).

His other favourite guitars include "BO", a JEM77BRMR prototype, also equipped with Fernandes Sustainer system and blue LED dot inlays, which was stolen in 2015, but recovered after; the original "FLO" guitar, a transformed original 77FP JEM to 7VWH specifications, also equipped with Fernandes Sustainer System and EVO 2 bridge pickup; and "Bruno" aka "For the Love of God" Ibanez Universe UV77MC seven-string guitar with burnt finish and mirror pickguard (this guitar was used in the For the Love of God music video). Vai uses his signature Carvin Legacy amplifier, as well as Morley Pedals, with whom he has his signature Bad Horsie and Bad Horsie II wah pedals, and Little Alligator volume pedal. Vai uses the Ibanez Jemini distortion pedal, a signature twin distortion pedal with separate overdrive and distortion sections.

Before his endorsement with Ibanez, Vai was endorsed by Charvel guitars, most notably using a green and black San Dimas model. In addition, over the course of his career, Vai has used guitars made by various other companies, including Jackson, Fender, and Gavtone.

Guitar rig and signal flow

Vai's 2016 live guitar rig utilizes his signature Carvin Legacy amplifier (now on its third version), the Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II XL, and an MFC-101 foot controller.

Depending on the location and venue, Vai will use either his Legacy I or Legacy III heads, and Carvin Legacy 4x12 speaker cabinets loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. Vai uses EL-34 tubes by Groove Tubes in his Legacy amps.

Vai uses the Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II XL as the only modulation effects unit in his guitar rig. Generally for live use he utilizes the unit for stereo effects such as delay, chorus, and phase, with a separate preset for the parameters of each different song in his setlist. The Axe-Fx MFC-101 foot controller is set up in conjunction with the unit, allowing Vai to switch effects on and off in a fashion reminiscent to that of standard stompboxes.

Vai's pedalboard consists of a wah-wah pedal (either his Morley Bad Horsie signature pedal, or a Dunlop Cry Baby 95q), an Ibanez Jemini twin distortion pedal, and DigiTech Whammy DT pitch shifting pedal. The centerpiece of the pedalboard is the Axe-Fx MFC-101 foot controller for the Axe-Fx II XL, which, as previously mentioned, controls the effects in a manner similar to switching on and off stompboxes. There are two expression pedals used for the Axe-Fx, one to act as a volume pedal, and the other to control the harmonizer built into the Axe-Fx unit.

The signal from the guitar (usually one of the main guitars "EVO", "FLO III" or more recently, "NILE") goes into either the Morley Bad Horsie or Dunlop 95q wah pedal. From there, it goes directly into the Ibanez Jemini twin distortion pedal, and then to the Digitech Whammy DT. From the output of the Whammy, the signal heads into the input of the Carvin Legacy amplifier head. Out of the effects loop of the Legacy, the signal heads directly into the Axe-Fx II XL, where it is split into stereo and the effects are applied (and controlled via the MFC-101 foot controller). Out of the output of the Axe-Fx, one signal is sent back to the original Legacy head return, and a second is sent to a second Carvin Legacy head return, bypassing the preamp stage completely and acting as a slave power amp. Vai utilizes his stereo setup on effects like delay, where he sets up two separate delay times (one slower and one faster) and allows them to alternate back and forth. The signal is then sent from the amp to the 4x12 Carvin Legacy speaker cabinets loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. Vai uses AKG microphones to mic his amps, and uses a separate Carvin power amp to power a direct guitar monitor cabinet instead of relying on the PA.

Detailed gear diagrams of both Vai's 1999 and 2007 guitar rigs are well-documented.

Vai in 2007

Since the late 1990s, Vai has resided in Encino, Los Angeles with his family. Vai is married to Pia Maiocco, former bassist of the band Vixen (who can be seen in the 1984 film Hardbodies), with whom he has two children, Julian and Fire Vai. Vai is also a vegetarian and a beekeeper, regularly tending to the beehives kept on his Encino property.

Not including guest appearances.

Early bands

  • The Ohio Express (1971–1972)
  • Circus (circa 1973 to 1976)
  • Ravge (circa 1973 to 1976)
  • Bold As Love (1977)

Berklee bands

  • Axis (1978–1979)
  • Morning Thunder (1979)

Professional bands

Solo band (1992–94)

Sex & Religion album

"Sex & Religion" tour

1995

This band toured Russia twice, South America and the US (opening for Bon Jovi).

1996–99

2000

2001–02 – "The Breed"

2003–05 – "The Breed"

2007 – "String Theories"

2012 – "The Story of Light Band"

2013 – "The Story of Light Band, Australia, New Zealand and Asian Leg"

2015 – "Stillness in Motion: Live DVD Band"

Main article: Steve Vai discography

Vai started his recording career in 1980 with Frank Zappa, and has since recorded with a plethora of artists and bands. In 1983, Vai began his career as a solo artist with his release of Flex-Able, and solidified his place as a virtuoso rock guitarist with his acclaimed 1990 release of Passion and Warfare. His discography consists of nine studio albums, two EPs, two special albums, eight live albums, twelve soundtracks, twenty compilation albums, and six DVD releases.

Studio albums:

These are the three wins from Vai's 15 solo or collaborative nominations:

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Steve Vai
Steve Vai Language Watch Edit This biography of a living person relies too much on references to primary sources Please help by adding secondary or tertiary sources Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately especially if potentially libelous or harmful January 2016 Learn how and when to remove this template message Steven Siro Vai v aɪ born June 6 1960 is an American guitarist composer singer songwriter and producer A three time Grammy Award winner and fifteen time nominee 1 Vai started his music career in 1978 at the age of eighteen as a transcriptionist for Frank Zappa 2 and played in Zappa s band from 1980 to 1983 1 He embarked on a solo career in 1983 and has released eight solo albums to date 3 He has recorded and toured with Alcatrazz David Lee Roth and Whitesnake as well as recording with artists such as Public Image Ltd Mary J Blige Spinal Tap and Ozzy Osbourne Additionally Vai has toured with live only acts G3 Zappa Plays Zappa and the Experience Hendrix tour as well as headlining international tours 4 Steve VaiVai in 2015Background informationBirth nameSteven Siro VaiBorn 1960 06 06 June 6 1960 age 61 Carle Place New York U S GenresInstrumental rock hard rock heavy metal progressive metalInstrumentsGuitar vocalsYears active1978 presentLabelsFavored Nations Relativity EpicAssociated actsJoe Satriani Eric Johnson Paul Gilbert Frank Zappa Alcatrazz David Lee Roth Public Image Ltd Whitesnake Meat Loaf Zappa Plays Zappa Devin Townsend Billy Sheehan G3 2CellosWebsitevai wbr com Vai has been described as a highly individualistic player and part of a generation of heavy rock and metal virtuosi who came to the fore in the 1980s 5 He released his first solo album Flex Able in 1984 while his most successful release Passion and Warfare 1990 was described as the richest and best hard rock guitar virtuoso album of the 80s 6 He was voted the 10th Greatest Guitarist by Guitar World magazine 7 and has sold over 15 million records 1 8 Contents 1 Biography 1 1 Early life 1 2 Early music career 1978 1986 1 3 With David Lee Roth 1985 1989 1 4 1990s 1 5 2000s 1 6 2010 present 2 Media appearances 2 1 Video games 2 2 Films 3 Style and influence 4 Notable contributions 4 1 Work with Frank Zappa 4 2 JEM PIA and Universe guitars 4 3 Alien Guitar Secrets masterclasses 4 4 Eventide H3000 Ultra Harmonizer 4 5 DiMarzio pickups 4 6 Carvin Legacy amplifier 4 7 Touring 5 Equipment 5 1 Guitar rig and signal flow 6 Personal life 7 Band history 8 Discography 9 Grammy awards 10 See also 11 References 12 External linksBiography EditEarly life Edit Steve Vai a descendant of Italian immigrants was born in Carle Place New York on June 6 1960 He is the fourth son of John and Theresa Vai 9 He described his first experiences with music as at the age of five I walked up to a piano hit a note and noticed that to the right the notes go higher and to the left the notes go lower In that very moment I had a full on epiphany I was flooded with the instinctual realization of how music was created and how it worked from a theoretical standpoint the whole language of music was very obvious I also understood immediately instinctually and unequivocally something that has only deepened through the years that the creation of music is an infinite personal expression I realized that I could do this I could make music and it could be whatever I want 10 11 12 It was a year later at the age of six that Vai experienced his first introduction to the guitar remembering that I saw this nine year old boy playing the guitar in my grade school auditorium and that was another epiphany that I had It was my first recognition of the instrument When I saw that guitar and I saw this kid playing it I knew instinctually that I was going to play the guitar someday and that it would be my instrument Don t ask me how I knew I just knew It was the coolest thing I had ever seen 10 12 As a young child Vai was influenced by the music his parents had listened to One album in particular that he cites as his musical awakening was the original motion picture soundtrack to the 1961 film West Side Story 13 At age eleven Vai was introduced to the contemporary rock and progressive music of the era and after hearing the guitar solo to Led Zeppelin s Heartbreaker at age twelve decided to begin playing the guitar In 1973 Vai began to take guitar lessons from fellow New York native Joe Satriani and played in local bands The Ohio Express Circus and Rayge throughout his high school years 14 Vai cites artists such as Jimmy Page Brian May Ritchie Blackmore Jeff Beck Jimi Hendrix as well as jazz fusion guitarists Allan Holdsworth and Al Di Meola as some of his major influences in that time period 15 In 1978 to further pursue his interest in music composition and theory Vai attended Berklee College of Music in Boston Massachusetts While at Berklee Vai began working for Frank Zappa as a transcriptionist and in the middle of his fourth semester moved to California to start his career as a session and touring artist for Zappa 16 Also while at Berklee Vai met his future spouse Pia Maiocco with whom he has been together since they have two children 17 In 2003 Vai was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee 18 Early music career 1978 1986 Edit Steve Vai on guitar in between the drums and keyboard to the right Frank Zappa and band during a concert at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo New York October 25 1980 In 1978 Vai sent both a notated transcription of Frank Zappa s The Black Page and a recording of his college band Morning Thunder to Zappa 19 20 Impressed by this Zappa responded by putting Vai on salary as a transcriptionist to transcribe his work which included pieces from the Joe s Garage and Shut Up n Play Yer Guitar albums 21 After leaving Berklee College of Music and moving to California Vai auditioned 22 for and became a full time member of Zappa s band going on his first tour with Zappa in late 1980 19 Zappa often referred to Vai as his little Italian virtuoso 23 and Vai is frequently listed in the liner notes of Zappa s albums as having performed stunt or impossible guitar parts 24 Vai was a featured artist on the 1993 release Zappa s Universe and in 2006 Vai appeared as a special guest on Dweezil Zappa s Zappa Plays Zappa tour both projects won Vai a Grammy Award 25 After moving on from Zappa s employ in 1983 Vai bought a house in Sylmar Los Angeles where he built his first professional studio 26 During this period Vai formed two bands The Classified and 777 27 as well as writing and recording a large amount of music that was not originally intended for release Out of this material Vai compiled his first studio album Flex Able He created his own record label Akashic Records later Light Without Heat Records which he used to take Flex Able directly to distribution channels 28 Flex Able was released in January 1984 Vai began his rise to public acclaim in 1983 when shortly before the release of Flex Able his composition The Attitude Song was published in Guitar Player magazine 24 The song centered itself on a main guitar riff in the time signature 7 16 played over a rhythm section centered in 4 4 Each following section of the song showcased a number of specialized techniques such as two handed tapping whammy bar acrobatics sweep picking alternate picking multi part harmonies and odd phrasing used in angular and exaggerated ways that were unique to the song at the time 24 Interest from the public eye grew more so when Vai s song Blue Powder a demonstration for the Carvin X100b amplifier was published in Guitar Player as well which showed the virtuoso side of Vai s compositional process Also in 1986 Vai was cast in the film Crossroads as the Devil s guitar player Jack Butler In the famous duel scene between Vai and Ralph Macchio s character Vai wrote and performed all guitar parts with the exception of the slide guitar which was performed by Ry Cooder 29 In between solo work Vai replaced Yngwie Malmsteen in June 1984 as the lead guitarist of Alcatrazz with whom he recorded the album Disturbing the Peace Vai left shortly after the subsequent tour to join David Lee Roth s band With David Lee Roth 1985 1989 Edit In 1985 Vai joined David Lee Roth s post Van Halen band as lead guitarist together with former Talas bassist Billy Sheehan on bass and former Maynard Ferguson drummer Gregg Bissonette on drums The foursome s debut album Eat Em and Smile released on July 7 1986 was both a critical and commercial success reaching number four on the Billboard 200 albums chart and selling over two million copies Guitar World magazine editor Brad Tolinski commented on Vai s playing at the time saying that Steve Vai s guitar wizardry is so profound that in earlier times he would have been burned as a witch 30 Retrospectively Eat Em and Smile is frequently evaluated as one of the greatest rock albums of the 1980s 31 The group s Eat Em and Smile Tour began in August 1986 and continued through February 1987 Roth s subsequent album Skyscraper released in 1988 was produced by both Roth and Vai 32 Like its predecessor the album was a commercial success reaching number six on the Billboard 200 chart In 1989 following the successful Skyscraper Tour Vai departed from the band 33 He was replaced by Cacophony guitarist Jason Becker In 1985 after having joined Roth s band Vai designed the JEM guitar a unique instrument that incorporated a series of groundbreaking designs that have since become staples in feature throughout the guitar industry Vai began working with Ibanez in 1986 to develop the guitar and the first production Ibanez JEM 777 guitars were released in 1987 1990s Edit From 1985 to 1990 Vai recorded Passion and Warfare at his home studio his second studio solo album 34 35 After leaving Roth s band in 1989 Vai bought out of his Capitol Records contract and signed on with Relativity Records for the release of Passion and Warfare which was completed shortly after he began recording the guitar parts for Whitesnake s Slip of the Tongue album where he replaced the injured Adrian Vandenberg 35 Upon its release in November 1989 Slip of the Tongue sold over three million copies worldwide reaching number 10 on the Billboard 200 while Vai joined the band on their thirteen month world tour 35 36 37 In May 1990 Vai released Passion and Warfare through Relativity Records 35 38 and following its release the album had reached number 18 in the Billboard 200 selling over a million and a half copies worldwide 35 39 40 Passion and Warfare won Vai a number of awards such as Guitar World and Guitar Player s Best Album and Best Rock Guitarist awards 41 Passion and Warfare has been cited as one of the most pertinent instrumental albums released 42 43 1990 also saw the release of the Ibanez Universe seven string guitar co designed by Vai in conjunction with Ibanez Vai left Whitesnake in 1990 to pursue his own musical avenues and formed a band that included Devin Townsend on vocals T M Stevens on bass and Terry Bozzio on drums 40 The group released Sex amp Religion on July 23 1993 that was described as visceral in nature combining a compositional and progressive metal rhythm section with Devin Townsend s vocal arrangements 44 After the following tour in support of the album the group disbanded 40 44 Vai began working with Ozzy Osbourne in 1994 with whom he wrote and recorded the Ozzmosis album Due to conflicts the album was re written and recorded with Zakk Wylde on guitar 45 In 1994 Vai won a Grammy award for his performance of Sofa from Zappa s Universe 46 While recording his fourth studio album Fire Garden Vai took time to record and release the stripped down EP Alien Love Secrets 47 A departure from the often highly compositional and heavily produced style of his previous projects the seven track EP was recorded in four weeks and released through Relativity Epic Records on March 21 1995 40 48 Vai cites this record as one of his favorites saying The recording and release of Alien Love Secrets marked another turning point in my personal evolution I was more concerned with making the record that I wanted to make and not worry about what some others thought I should be doing 47 On September 17 1996 Vai released Fire Garden 19 track double album through Epic 49 with the first half being primarily instrumental while the second half featured Vai on vocals 40 After the release of Fire Garden Vai joined his former teacher Joe Satriani along with guitarist Eric Johnson for the second installment of the ongoing G3 concert tours On each G3 tour three guitar centric headlining acts are chosen to perform their own sets and then collectively jam to fan favorite songs at the end of the show 50 G3 Live in Concert a video of the 1996 tour was filmed in Columbus Ohio and released on June 3 1997 51 In 1998 Vai independently released a performance footage DVD of Alien Love Secrets 52 Also in 1998 Vai started the Make a Noise Foundation with his then manager Ruta Sepetys The goal of the foundation was to provide funding for musical education to those otherwise unable to attain it Today Vai often auctions items in his possession with proceeds going to the foundation 53 At the close of the decade Vai provided guitar for Joe Jackson s Symphony No 1 released in 1999 and winner of the 2001 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album 54 2000s Edit Vai performing in 2001 In December 2001 Vai recorded two performances at The Astoria in London with his band The Breed composed of former David Lee Roth bandmate Billy Sheehan guitarist pianist Tony MacAlpine guitarist Dave Weiner and drummer Virgil Donati This live show was released independently in DVD format as Steve Vai Live at the Astoria London in 2003 and was Vai s first of many successful live concert DVD projects 55 In 2004 Vai released twelve tracks from the DVD in an online only release 56 2001 saw the limited release of The Secret Jewel Box a conceptual ten CD box set containing unique material from various eras of Vai s career Four compilation albums The Elusive Light and Sound Vol 1 Mystery Tracks Archives Vol 3 Various Artists Archives Vol 4 and Vai Piano Reductions Vol 1 included as part of the box set were released to the public both in 2001 and the years following 57 Also in 2001 Vai s record label Favored Nations released No Substitutions Live in Osaka The release which Vai himself produced and engineered won him his second Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Album in February 2002 58 While most widely recognized for his stature as a rock guitar player Vai is also a musical composer fluent in the composition and arranging of orchestral music In May 2004 Vai premiered The Aching Hunger a project commissioned by the Netherlands Programme Service and performed with the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra The Aching Hunger performances consisted of two parts the first showcasing Vai s original contemporary orchestral compositions and the second consisting of Vai on guitar playing newly arranged material from his catalog with the orchestra 59 This project yielded both the Visual Sound Theories DVD and the Sound Theories Vol I amp II album which were recorded in 2005 during multiple Aching Hunger performances and released in June 2007 60 While The Aching Hunger and its following releases started Vai s public career as an orchestral composer Vai had been composing since he began a music theory class taught by Bill Westcott in high school In speaking of Westcott Vai says He taught me how to write compose and appreciate music There was no greater musical influence in my life 61 In 2005 Vai released Real Illusions Reflections the first installment in an ongoing three part trilogy concept album Each of the three installments to the series contain material songs lyrics and both spoken and written narration with particular relationships to the storyline purposefully left out of order Upon the release of the third installment Vai intends to complete a fourth album of material which will then be released with the previous three installments and completed storyline in order 62 63 In speaking of the storyline Vai says It s a human interest story about the human condition It s a story about this man who has a traumatic experience in his life and it drives him insane We see the story through his eyes It also involves the town he lives in and this stranger that enters the town who s like a shaman he builds this giant edifice like a reflecting pond and when people come to it they see aspects of their personalities and identities and discover things about themselves There s some comedy involved too but it s pretty esoteric It s about a lot of lofty principles so it s not a bad idea to dish this all out slowly 64 The installments to the series will be released over periods of time with the second The Story of Light having been released in 2012 65 In 2006 Vai joined the Zappa Plays Zappa tour as a special guest alongside additional Zappa band alumni Terry Bozzio and Napoleon Murphy Brock In 2008 for his performance of Peaches en Regalia from the Zappa Plays Zappa tour Vai won his third Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance 58 Having always enjoyed the aspect of teaching and sharing his experiences in life and in the music business citation needed Vai began a series of Alien Guitar Secrets masterclasses in 2006 a touring masterclass in which Vai holds open forum discussion about his own experiences in the music industry explains the key principles to understanding success plays to backing tracks often inviting class attendees to jam with him answers questions articulates key points of guitar technique and more importantly goes beyond the technique and into the more profound esoteric principles at play see Notable contributions for more on this In support of Sound Theories Vol I amp II and Visual Sound Theories Vai put together a new band for a five month world tour of the United States Europe South America and Australia 66 While evaluating unique options for the band which included ideas for a horn section or percussion section Vai began auditioning violin players to complement the new lineup This new band known as the String Theories band featured previous The Breed members Jeremy Colson drums and Dave Weiner guitar and sitar along with new members Bryan Beller bass Alex DePue violin and Ann Marie Calhoun violin During a month of twelve to fifteen hour a day rehearsals Vai and the band perfected the performance which consisted of pieces from Vai s catalog arranged by Vai to include the two violins 67 The tour began in June 2007 and ended in December the same year Midway through the String Theories tour in 2007 Vai recorded a performance at the State Theatre in Minneapolis which yielded the acclaimed 2009 live concert DVD and Blu ray release of Where the Wild Things Are Certified gold in the United States and Canada Where the Wild Things Are showcased the diverse musical range of the String Theories band with pieces such as the visceral Grammy nominated Now We Run to the dynamic ballad Angel Food 68 69 2007 also marked the 20th anniversary of the production of the Ibanez JEM guitar a milestone which was commemorated with the 20th anniversary JEM model Made of an acrylic body with three dimensional swirl painted interior this guitar can be seen in the beginning of the Where the Wild Things Are DVD In 2008 Vai announced the release of his signature Ibanez Jemini distortion pedal a twin distortion pedal with both a custom overdrive and lead distortion section 70 2010 present Edit Vai performing with Led Zeppelin tribute band Zepparella May 2017 2010 marked the twentieth anniversary of the production of the Ibanez Universe guitar which was commemorated with a twentieth anniversary Universe model A reissue of the early 1990s Universe 77 MC multi color swirl the model included a new five piece maple bubinga Universe neck and original swirl paint job by Darren Johansen the painter of the original Universe 77 MC guitars 71 In February 2010 Vai announced the introduction of VaiTunes a platform used to release digital only singles via iTunes and other digital media outlets 72 In April Vai performed with Mary J Blige Orianthi Randy Jackson and Travis Barker for a rendition of the Led Zeppelin classic Stairway to Heaven on the hit television show American Idol 73 October 2010 saw more movement from Vai as a composer with the premiere of two original symphonies at the Steve Vai Festival in Groningen the Netherlands and performed by the North Netherlands Orchestra 74 Shortly after the festival Vai embarked on the Experience Hendrix tour along with Eric Johnson Kenny Wayne Shepherd Susan Tedeschi Billy Cox Vernon Reid Robert Randolph Jonny Lang Brad Whitford and others for a nationwide tour of the United States 75 In March 2011 Vai in conjunction with the online education division of Berklee College of Music set a Guinness World Record for the world s largest online guitar lesson 76 The lesson was held as a promotion for Berklee s online Steve Vai Guitar Techniques course which Vai helped to construct 77 In April 2011 Vai along with music and technology entrepreneur Andy Alt announced the launch of GuitarTV an online streaming website dedicated to bringing free guitar related content to the community of guitar players around the world Vai s eighth studio album The Story of Light was released in August 2012 as the second installment in the Real Illusions concept album trilogy 78 The Story of Light tour which began on the month of the album s release spanned 254 engagements in 52 different countries ending in September 2014 This tour yielded the 2015 release of Vai s fourth live DVD project Stillness in Motion filmed in October 2012 during his Story of Light tour at the Club Nokia in Los Angeles Released on April 7 the double disc set contained a copy of the Stillness in Motion concert footage and a special bonus feature disc called The Space Between the Notes The latter is a complete chronological timeline of the Story of Light tour with a video or picture representation of each show of all of the 254 engagements attended 79 2014 saw the announcement of a new intensive guitar camp called the Vai Academy which was an evolution of the Alien Guitar Secrets masterclass Each year the camp is held Vai creates a syllabus with a particular theme and invites special guests to help him teach it During the day Vai and the special guests of whom have included Guthrie Govan Jeff Baxter Vernon Reid Eric Johnson Sonny Landreth and others hold classes in which they add their insight and perspective to the theme Each evening Vai and the special guests jam with the campers The themes have included 2014 s Vai Academy Song Evolution Camp and 2015 s Vai Academy All About the Guitar 80 Vai has announced an upcoming 2016 release commemorating the 25th anniversary of Passion and Warfare This release contains remastered songs from the album as well as the inclusion of a new album of material written from the time between the recording of Passion and Warfare and his first solo album Flex Able After the release Vai held a world tour in which he played the entire Passion and Warfare album along with material from the new release The tour would continue during the first half of 2017 81 In 2016 Vai played an uncredited guitar solo on the track Go from the album Junk by French electronic band M83 In April an May of the same year Vai took part in the Generation Axe tour alongside Tosin Abasi Nuno Bettencourt Yngwie Malmsteen and Zakk Wylde Starting in June Vai embarked on the Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary World Tour where he played the album in its entirety for the first time 82 Vai is a featured artist on the track Do You Feel Love from Jacob Collier s 2019 album Djesse Vol 2 In 2021 Steve Vai was featured on a track called Lost Children of the Universe from the Star One Project of Ayreon Also on the track are Roy Khan Tony Martin Marcela Bovio and Irene Jansen 83 Media appearances EditVideo games Edit Juice from Alien Love Secrets was featured on the 1996 video game Formula One for the PlayStation Vai s guitar work also appeared in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto Vice City David Lee Roth s Yankee Rose was featured on Vice City s soundtrack as well as God Blessed Video by Alcatrazz as part of the Lazlow led 1980s rock metal radio station V Rock In 2004 Vai was featured on the soundtrack to the Xbox video game Halo 2 performing a heavy rock guitar rendition of the Halo theme known as Halo Theme MJOLNIR Mix He also performed on the track Never Surrender He later featured in the second volume of the soundtrack where he performed on the track Reclaimer Vai returned to re record his Halo work for the Halo 2 Anniversary Original Soundtrack which was released in 2014 and included as part of the anniversary edition of Halo 2 In an interview shot during the development of Halo 2 Anniversary Vai reveals that his part in the MJOLNIR Mix was a last minute inclusion in the song In 2008 Vai s song For the Love of God and Halo Theme MJOLNIR Mix were featured as downloadable tracks for the game Guitar Hero 3 A live version of For the Love of God was also available on the Rock Band Network service as well as the song Get the Hell Out of Here from his 2002 compilation album The Elusive Light and Sound Vol 1 on March 4 2010 The Attitude Song and a live version of The Crying Machine were both also added to the Rock Band Network A re recording of Speeding is featured in the 2010 video game Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock for Xbox 360 Wii and PlayStation 3 Films Edit In 1986 Vai was cast in director Walter Hill s film Crossroads as the Devil s guitar player Jack Butler In the cutting heads scene between Vai s Jack Butler and Ralph Macchio s Eugene Lightning Martone Vai wrote and performed all guitar parts with the exception of the slide guitar which was performed by Ry Cooder 84 The main body of the final piece performed in the duel scene the fast paced neoclassical track Eugene s Trick Bag was based heavily on Niccolo Paganini s Capriccio number 5 The Crossroads duel appeared on the 2002 album The Elusive Light and Sound Vol 1 85 In 1987 Vai performed Amazing Grace in the film Dudes In 1991 Vai performed on the film Bill amp Ted s Bogus Journey as well as on 1992 s Encino Man PCU 1994 and John Carpenter s Ghosts of Mars where he played on the tracks Ghosts of Mars and Ghost Poppin In 2010 Vai s record label Favored Nations produced and released the award winning original motion picture Crazy An independent film Crazy was inspired by the life and music of the guitarist Hank Garland 86 Style and influence EditAt the age of thirteen after having purchased his first guitar and begun taking his first lessons from fellow New York native Joe Satriani Vai became obsessed with the discipline of practice Vai s practice routine consisting of a rigid and structured regimen of ten to fifteen hour a day practice schedules became the basis of his work ethic for the rest of his career 87 During his employment by Frank Zappa Vai transcribed and played very rhythmically complex music believing that if started slow and perfected any piece of music could be played 88 Vai s first solo album Flex able began his career as a solo artist in 1984 During the period of time that the album was recorded Vai was heavily influenced by his previous tenure in Frank Zappa s band 89 Originally not intended for release Flex able expressed a certain creative quirky and angular freedom in the eclectic nature of Vai s writing style 90 Passion and Warfare Vai s second solo album expressed a more mature and evolved signature style but retained a certain freedom of unfettered inspiration that would continue to influence Vai s future releases 81 In speaking of his inspiration Vai has said that it comes to him in many forms even from the flowers pushed up against a fence outside of his studio which he transcribed and used in the ninth track Weeping China Doll from The Story of Light 91 While expressing that he is not continuously inspired Vai uses a concept he calls musical meditation to enter a state of consciousness that he calls The Ultra Zone 92 When inside this un critical frame of mind Vai is able to achieve inspiration in the form of musical ideas often in forms of melody or rhythm 93 For these moments of inspiration Vai created what he calls the Infinity Shelf a drive of thousands of snippets of song ideas that he has collected over his entire career 72 94 These esoteric principles are taught by Vai during his Alien Guitar Secrets masterclasses among a host of other information Vai s playing style utilizes specialized guitar techniques such as two handed tapping alternate picking legato hybrid picking sweep picking whammy bar acrobatics and circular vibrato in his music as well as a wide range of recording techniques 95 96 Notable contributions EditWork with Frank Zappa Edit As a transcriptionist for Frank Zappa Vai transcribed some of Zappa s most rhythmically complex music using a range of conceptualizations for the notation of rhythmic music Vai says While transcribing the material I was often confronted with situations that led me to reach into the intuitional areas of my imagination to come up with various notational devices and constructions that I had never seen before I soon discovered that many contemporary composers were then and are still using these notations These concepts can be seen throughout the Frank Zappa Guitar Book which were composed of Vai s guitar and drum transcriptions from various Zappa albums Vai toured with Zappa from 1980 to 1983 performing selections of this technically demanding music with Zappa s band at the time 97 JEM PIA and Universe guitars Edit Vai designed the Ibanez JEM guitar a unique instrument that incorporated a series of groundbreaking designs that have since become staples in feature throughout the guitar industry in 1985 In speaking of the development of the guitar Vai says Stratocasters had whammy bars which were fantastic but they were very limited were always going out of tune and had single coil pickups Les Pauls had humbuckers which gave you that real scream in the bridge position but no whammy bar and I didn t like the way they sat Neither guitar had twenty four frets So I went to a guitar shop in Hollywood where I had these elements implemented into a guitar what would have been considered a Superstrat at the time The guitar was designed with a sharper body shape a large cutaway around the neck twenty four frets a fully floating tremolo system a specially wired five way pickup selector switch and an output jack angled on the side of the body so that when you step on the cable it doesn t pull out of your guitar I knew of course that these features would eventually be taken and used in other guitars so I did something completely preposterous I said Put a handle in it That way during videos and photoshoots I could swing the guitar around 7 Vai had several custom prototypes of these guitars built which were used on the Eat Em and Smile tour by Joe Jem Despagni a custom guitar luthier and friend of Vai s Due to Vai s highly coveted position in Roth s band many guitar companies were eager to propose endorsement opportunities In response to these offers Vai sent out the specifications of the JEM guitar detailing that the company that returned the best guitar would be given the endorsement Dissatisfied with the guitars returned and unwilling to compromise Vai held out on a guitar endorsement until Ibanez approached him sending him an instrument superior to that of the other companies and willing to follow his instructions After the pre production prototypes were perfected the first production Ibanez JEM 777 guitars were unveiled at the NAMM Show in 1987 Since its original 1987 release the JEM has become one of the longest running and most successful signature series guitars in history with its sister guitar the Ibanez RG being the second highest selling guitar behind the Fender Stratocaster on the market Another design by Vai was the Ibanez Universe the first production seven string guitar which was released in 1989 The Universe incorporated many of the aspects that made the JEM a unique instrument 2 octave fretboard full floating tremolo humbucker single coil humbucker pickup configuration angled output jack and deeper body cutaways with an added low B string allowing for new low range sonic possibilities Used by Vai on much of Passion and Warfare and all of Whitesnake s Slip of the Tongue the Universe was a large stepping stone for the burgeoning Nu metal genre with bands such as Korn Limp Bizkit Fear Factory and Meshuggah having adopted the instrument and incorporating it into their signature sound On April 4th of 2020 the Ibanez PIA was introduced which Vai says is the modernisation and maturing of his original JEM 98 99 The PIA model named after his wife Pia Maiocco features an alder body and a 5 piece maple walnut neck with 24 frets rosewood fretboard with the usual floral inlays The neck is styled in the classic Ibanez wizard III neck 430mmR neck radius The primary way model differs from the JEM for its softer body curves and a Petal Grip handle replacing the original Monkey Grip cutout It also sports DiMarzio UtoPIA pickups in an HSH configuration gold hardware and a Prestige locking vibrato unit 100 Alien Guitar Secrets masterclasses Edit Having always enjoyed the aspect of teaching and sharing his experiences in life and in the music business Vai began a series of Alien Guitar Secrets masterclasses in 2006 a touring masterclass in which Vai holds open forum discussion about his own experiences in the music industry explains the key principles to understanding success plays to backing tracks often inviting class attendees to jam with him answers questions articulates key points of guitar technique and more importantly goes beyond the technique and into the more profound esoteric principles at play Vai details certain concepts he has discovered that have helped him in all areas of his life and career both in playing guitar musically as well as spiritually Vai accessibly shares these concepts with masterclass participants using examples from his own experiences delving into the ongoing process of identifying the self critical nature of one s own thoughts Vai explains the techniques and exercises he uses to circumnavigate one s own insecurities and thoughts of self doubt and encourages masterclass participants to use these tools in their own lives Often embarking on masterclass tours through Europe South America and Russia Vai considers this ongoing series of classes as one of his most important contributions 101 102 Eventide H3000 Ultra Harmonizer Edit Guitar effects manufacturer Eventide approached Vai in the mid 1980s to contribute unique ideas for their H3000 effects unit Vai suggested many specific concepts such as diatonic pitch change and multi voice harmony that were used in the unit and have since become standard algorithms in guitar effects processors 103 DiMarzio pickups Edit In 1993 Vai s signature series high output Evolution humbucker pickup set was released by DiMarzio The Evolution pickups use DiMarzio s patented Dual Resonance design 104 The EVO 2 humbucker a lower output model was released in 2004 105 Carvin Legacy amplifier Edit In 1997 Vai had begun working with the Carvin Corporation to design a signature series of Legacy amplifiers which were used on his 1999 Epic Records release The Ultra Zone 40 106 The original Legacy I model was released in 1999 with the most recent Legacy III being released in 2012 107 Touring Edit In the 1990s Vai began touring in European and Asian countries such as Russia and China as well as South America often having been the first American rock act in history to have performed in these areas In 2014 Vai performed on the Chinese television station BTV s Spring Festival Global Gala a program broadcast to over two billion viewers With the broadcasting of this event on January 26 2014 Vai became the first rock artist ever broadcast on a Chinese television program 108 109 Equipment Edit Vai s FLO guitar in 2014 Vai s personal studio The Harmony Hut is a large edifice located in his backyard equipped with a full control room and performance room 110 The studio built in 2011 is where Vai currently produces records and mixes his new material Vai has two main signature series Ibanez JEM six string guitars dubbed EVO 111 and FLO III 112 that he uses live and in the studio EVO a prototype Ibanez JEM 7VWH was received in 1993 while developing Vai s signature DiMarzio Evolution pickups hence the name of the guitar and FLO III is a basswood Ibanez Los Angeles Custom Shop JEM 7VWH equipped with a Fernandes Sustainer system and a DiMarzio PAF Pro pickup in bridge position 113 114 Since early 2021 Steve has been frequently using the 1st prototype of the Onyx Black Ibanez PIA along with EVO and FLO III which he nicknamed NILE 115 as seen in the Knappsack 116 video and various other appearances His other favourite guitars include BO 117 a JEM77BRMR prototype also equipped with Fernandes Sustainer system and blue LED dot inlays which was stolen in 2015 but recovered after the original FLO 118 guitar a transformed original 77FP JEM to 7VWH specifications also equipped with Fernandes Sustainer System and EVO 2 bridge pickup and Bruno aka For the Love of God 119 Ibanez Universe UV77MC seven string guitar with burnt finish and mirror pickguard this guitar was used in the For the Love of God music video Vai uses his signature Carvin Legacy amplifier as well as Morley Pedals with whom he has his signature Bad Horsie and Bad Horsie II wah pedals and Little Alligator volume pedal 120 121 Vai uses the Ibanez Jemini distortion pedal a signature twin distortion pedal with separate overdrive and distortion sections 122 Before his endorsement with Ibanez Vai was endorsed by Charvel guitars most notably using a green and black San Dimas model In addition over the course of his career Vai has used guitars made by various other companies including Jackson Fender and Gavtone Guitar rig and signal flow Edit Vai s 2016 live guitar rig utilizes his signature Carvin Legacy amplifier now on its third version the Fractal Audio Axe Fx II XL and an MFC 101 foot controller Depending on the location and venue Vai will use either his Legacy I or Legacy III heads and Carvin Legacy 4x12 speaker cabinets loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers Vai uses EL 34 tubes by Groove Tubes in his Legacy amps Vai uses the Fractal Audio Axe Fx II XL as the only modulation effects unit in his guitar rig Generally for live use he utilizes the unit for stereo effects such as delay chorus and phase with a separate preset for the parameters of each different song in his setlist The Axe Fx MFC 101 foot controller is set up in conjunction with the unit allowing Vai to switch effects on and off in a fashion reminiscent to that of standard stompboxes Vai s pedalboard consists of a wah wah pedal either his Morley Bad Horsie signature pedal or a Dunlop Cry Baby 95q an Ibanez Jemini twin distortion pedal and DigiTech Whammy DT pitch shifting pedal The centerpiece of the pedalboard is the Axe Fx MFC 101 foot controller for the Axe Fx II XL which as previously mentioned controls the effects in a manner similar to switching on and off stompboxes There are two expression pedals used for the Axe Fx one to act as a volume pedal and the other to control the harmonizer built into the Axe Fx unit The signal from the guitar usually one of the main guitars EVO FLO III or more recently NILE goes into either the Morley Bad Horsie or Dunlop 95q wah pedal From there it goes directly into the Ibanez Jemini twin distortion pedal and then to the Digitech Whammy DT From the output of the Whammy the signal heads into the input of the Carvin Legacy amplifier head Out of the effects loop of the Legacy the signal heads directly into the Axe Fx II XL where it is split into stereo and the effects are applied and controlled via the MFC 101 foot controller Out of the output of the Axe Fx one signal is sent back to the original Legacy head return and a second is sent to a second Carvin Legacy head return bypassing the preamp stage completely and acting as a slave power amp Vai utilizes his stereo setup on effects like delay where he sets up two separate delay times one slower and one faster and allows them to alternate back and forth The signal is then sent from the amp to the 4x12 Carvin Legacy speaker cabinets loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers Vai uses AKG microphones to mic his amps and uses a separate Carvin power amp to power a direct guitar monitor cabinet instead of relying on the PA 123 Detailed gear diagrams of both Vai s 1999 124 and 2007 guitar rigs 125 are well documented Personal life Edit Vai in 2007 Since the late 1990s Vai has resided in Encino Los Angeles with his family Vai is married to Pia Maiocco former bassist of the band Vixen who can be seen in the 1984 film Hardbodies with whom he has two children Julian and Fire Vai 126 127 Vai is also a vegetarian 128 and a beekeeper regularly tending to the beehives kept on his Encino property 129 Band history EditNot including guest appearances 130 Early bands The Ohio Express 1971 1972 Circus circa 1973 to 1976 Ravge circa 1973 to 1976 Bold As Love 1977 Berklee bands Axis 1978 1979 Morning Thunder 1979 Professional bands Frank Zappa 1980 1982 The Out Band Circa 1983 The Classified 1984 777 1984 Alcatrazz 1984 1985 David Lee Roth 1985 1989 Whitesnake 1989 1991 Solo band 1992 94 Sex amp Religion album Vocals Devin Townsend Guitar Steve Vai Bass TM Stevens Drums Terry Bozzio Sex amp Religion tour Vocals Guitar Devin Townsend Guitar Vocals Steve Vai Bass Scott Thunes Keys Will Riley Drums Abe Laboriel Jr then Toss Panos 1995 Guitar Steve Vai Bass Tony Pimental then Scott Thunes Keys Will Riley Drums Chris Frazier This band toured Russia twice South America and the US opening for Bon Jovi 1996 99 Guitar Vocals Steve Vai Guitar Vocals and Keys Mike Keneally Fretted amp Fretless Bass Vocals Philip Bynoe Drums Mike Mangini 2000 Guitar Vocals Steve Vai Guitar Vocals and Keys Mike Keneally Guitar Dave Weiner Fretted amp Fretless Bass Vocals Philip Bynoe Drums Mike Mangini Keyboards South American Tour Eric Goldberg Drums South American Tour Chris Frazier 2001 02 The Breed Guitar Vocals Steve Vai Bass Vocals Billy Sheehan Guitar Vocals and Keys Mike Keneally then Tony MacAlpine Acoustic amp Electric Guitars Sitar Dave Weiner Drums Virgil Donati 2003 05 The Breed Guitar Vocals Steve Vai Bass Vocals Billy Sheehan Guitar Vocals and Keys Tony MacAlpine Acoustic amp Electric Guitars Sitar Dave Weiner Acoustic amp Electronic Drums amp Percussion Jeremy Colson 2007 String Theories Guitar Vocals Steve Vai Fretted amp Fretless Bass Bryan Beller Philip Bynoe on the South American leg Violin and Keys Ann Marie Calhoun Violin and Keys Alex DePue Acoustic amp Electric Guitars Sitar Dave Weiner Acoustic amp Electronic Drums amp Percussion Jeremy Colson 2012 The Story of Light Band Guitar Vocals Steve Vai Fretted amp Fretless Bass Vocals Philip Bynoe Acoustic amp Electric Harp Deborah Henson Conant Acoustic amp Electric Guitars Sitar Dave Weiner Acoustic amp Electronic Drums amp Percussion Jeremy Colson 2013 The Story of Light Band Australia New Zealand and Asian Leg 131 Guitar Vocals Steve Vai Fretted amp Fretless Bass Vocals Philip Bynoe Acoustic amp Electric Guitars Dave Weiner Acoustic amp Electronic Drums amp Percussion Jeremy Colson Keyboards Michael Arrom 2015 Stillness in Motion Live DVD Band 132 Guitar Vocals Steve Vai Fretted amp Fretless Bass Vocals Philip Bynoe Acoustic amp Electric Guitars Dave Weiner Acoustic amp Electronic Drums amp Percussion Jeremy Colson Sitar Fire VaiDiscography EditMain article Steve Vai discography Vai started his recording career in 1980 with Frank Zappa and has since recorded with a plethora of artists and bands In 1983 Vai began his career as a solo artist with his release of Flex Able and solidified his place as a virtuoso rock guitarist with his acclaimed 1990 release of Passion and Warfare His discography consists of nine studio albums two EPs two special albums eight live albums twelve soundtracks twenty compilation albums and six DVD releases Studio albums Flex Able 1984 Passion and Warfare 1990 Sex amp Religion 1993 Fire Garden 1996 Flex Able Leftovers 1998 The Ultra Zone 1999 Real Illusions Reflections 2005 The Story of Light 2012 Modern Primitive 2016 Grammy awards EditThese are the three wins from Vai s 15 solo or collaborative nominations 1993 Steve Vai Best Rock Instrumental Performance for Sofa from Zappa s Universe 2002 Steve Vai et al Best Pop Instrumental Album for No Substitutions Live in Osaka 2008 Steve Vai et al Best Rock Instrumental Performance for Peaches en Regalia single from a Zappa Plays Zappa tourSee also EditList of rock instrumentals Steve Vai songsReferences Edit a b c Les Paul TEC Awards Information and Recipients Archived from the original on October 8 2015 Tempo Mental vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on November 18 2015 Retrieved November 23 2015 Steve Vai main discography Discogs Archived from the original on March 10 2016 Retrieved November 23 2015 Bands vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on November 10 2015 Retrieved November 23 2015 Dawe Kevin January 1 2010 The New Guitarscape in Critical Theory Cultural Practice and Musical Performance Ashgate Publishing Ltd p 66 ISBN 9780754667759 Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Passion and Warfare Steve Vai Songs Reviews Credits AllMusic AllMusic Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 a b Readers Poll Results The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time Guitar World Archived from the original on October 25 2012 Retrieved December 22 2015 Steve Vai Awards AllMusic AllMusic Archived from the original on June 4 2016 Retrieved December 22 2015 Bosso Joe December 15 2015 Steve Vai the 10 Records That Changed My Life TeamRock Archived from the original on January 28 2016 Retrieved January 10 2016 a b Steve Vai Interview Make Weird Music Make Weird Music MakeWeirdMusic Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Musician s Friend Exclusive Interview with Steve Vai Part I Buyer s Guide Musicians Friend www musiciansfriend com Archived from the original on December 26 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 a b Q amp A Steve Vai Drops Some Knowledge American Songwriter American Songwriter Archived from the original on December 30 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 The Record that Changed My Life Steve Vai Discusses West Side Story Original Broadway Cast Recording Guitar World Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 10 Things You Didn t Know About Steve Vai Ultimate Classic Rock Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Steve Vai Music Influences MTV Artists Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Berklee Press An Interview with Steve Vai www berkleepress com Archived from the original on September 1 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Pia Maiocco IMDb Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Steven Tyler Steve Vai and Patty Larkin Among Five High Profile Artists and Composers Supporting Berklee s New Online Music Scholarship Berklee Honorary Doctor of Music Degree Recipient Steven Tyler and Berklee Alumni Steve Vai Patty Larkin Alf Clausen and Tom Snow Back Positive Music and the Internet Initiative Free Online Library www thefreelibrary com Retrieved July 14 2017 a b Berklee Press An Interview with Steve Vai www berkleepress com Archived from the original on September 1 2015 Retrieved December 22 2015 Vaiography vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 22 2015 Tempo Mental vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 19 2015 Retrieved December 22 2015 Online Berklee Steve Vai On His Audition for Frank Zappa s Band www berkleeshares com Archived from the original on April 1 2017 Retrieved March 31 2017 Steve Vai NAMM org Archived from the original on December 22 2015 Retrieved December 22 2015 a b c Play Like Steve Vai www guitarplayer com Archived from the original on December 22 2015 Retrieved December 22 2015 Awards vai com The Official Steve Vai Website Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 22 2015 The Studios vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 22 2015 Bands vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 22 2015 Vai com The Official Steve Vai Website Disc Notes Flex Able www vai com Archived from the original on March 4 2016 Retrieved December 22 2015 Crossroads 1986 IMDb Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Steve Vai Archived from the original on December 23 2015 Metal Odyssey s Good Times Album Pick David Lee Roth Eat Em and Smile Metal Odyssey gt Heavy Metal Music Blog April 2010 Archived from the original on December 23 2015 Retrieved December 23 2015 Steve Vai Discusses His Albums with David Lee Roth amp Van Halen s A Different Kind Of Truth Van Halen News Desk August 21 2012 Archived from the original on December 23 2015 Retrieved December 23 2015 Steve Vai Special martingoulding com martingoulding com Archived from the original on February 8 2016 Retrieved December 23 2015 The Studios vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 a b c d e Album Passion amp Warfare vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 Bands vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 Slip of the Tongue Whitesnake Songs Reviews Credits AllMusic AllMusic Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 24 2015 Graham Jonathan Forgotten Guitar Steve Vai s 1990 Appearance on MTV s Headbangers Ball Guitar World Retrieved 2019 09 20 Passion and Warfare Steve Vai Awards AllMusic AllMusic Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 a b c d e f Interview Steve Vai talks about his solo studio recordings MusicRadar Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 Awards vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 Passion and Warfare AllMusic Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Fascinating Facts About Steve Vai s Passion And Warfare I Heart Guitar Archived from the original on December 29 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 a b Album Sex amp Religion vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 10 Things You Didn t Know About Steve Vai Ultimate Classic Rock Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 Awards vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 26 2015 a b Album Alien Love Secrets vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 Steve Vai Alien Love Secrets Discogs Archived from the original on July 30 2016 Retrieved March 13 2016 Steve Vai Fire Garden Discogs Archived from the original on August 1 2016 Retrieved March 13 2016 G3 Tour 1996 www satriani com Archived from the original on November 4 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 Joe Satriani discography gt g3 live in concert www satriani com Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 24 2015 Steve Vai Alien Love Secrets Discogs Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 24 2015 Make A Noise Mission www makeanoise org Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 27 2015 43rd Annual Grammy Awards www grammy com Retrieved December 21 2020 IMDb Steve Vai Live At The Astoria London December 9 2003 Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Live at the Astoria Steve Vai Songs Reviews Credits AllMusic AllMusic Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 27 2015 Vai com The Secret Jewel Box About the Box www vai com Archived from the original on March 3 2016 Retrieved December 27 2015 a b Awards vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 27 2015 Vai com The Official Steve Vai Website gt Inside Real Illusions Reflections www vai com Archived from the original on March 3 2016 Retrieved December 27 2015 Sound Theories Vols 1 2 Steve Vai Songs Reviews Credits AllMusic AllMusic Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 27 2015 Bill Westcott vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 27 2015 Vai com The Official Steve Vai Website gt Inside Real Illusions Reflections www vai com Archived from the original on March 4 2016 Retrieved December 27 2015 Real Illusions Reflections Steve Vai Songs Reviews Credits AllMusic AllMusic Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 27 2015 Interview Steve Vai Breaks Down His New Album The Story of Light Guitar World Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 27 2015 Album The Story of Light vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 27 2015 Steve Vai Unveils New Band String Theories Blabbermouth net May 23 2007 Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 27 2015 Steve Vai Unveils New Band String Theories bravewords com Archived from the original on December 29 2015 Retrieved December 27 2015 IMDb Where The Wild Things Are October 12 2009 Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Where the Wild Things Are Steve Vai Songs Reviews Credits AllMusic AllMusic Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 27 2015 Review Ibanez Jemini Steve Vai signature distortion pedal I Heart Guitar Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 27 2015 Ibanez Universe 20th Anniversary Video vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 a b Discography Vaitunes vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on January 3 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Mary J Blige Builds A Stairway To Heaven For Idol Gives Back MTV News Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Steve Vai Festival vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 A brief history of Experience Hendrix Tour s 2010 Fall National Tour Experience Hendrix Tour Archived from the original on December 31 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Join the World s Largest Online Guitar Lesson with Steve Vai online berklee edu Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Steve Vai Guitar Techniques Course Berklee Online online berklee edu Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Album The Story of Light vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Stillness In Motion DVD and CD Release for April 7 2015 vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Vai Academy 2015 All About The Guitar vaiacademy com Archived from the original on December 31 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 a b Steve Vai Modern Primitive album in 2016 Passion And Warfare 25th anniversary edition and Tour Metallus it in Italian July 23 2015 Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Fanelli Damian Steve Vai Announces Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary World Tour Guitar World Archived from the original on August 5 2016 Ewing Jerry October 26 2021 Arjen Lucassen s Star One release epic video for Lost Children Of The Universe Louder Sound Retrieved November 2 2021 Crossroads 1986 IMDb March 14 1986 Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Album The Elusive Light And Sound vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Favored Nations Crazy Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Play Like Steve Vai www guitarplayer com Archived from the original on December 22 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Tempo Mental vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Album Flex Able vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Flex Able Steve Vai Songs Reviews Credits AllMusic AllMusic Archived from the original on January 24 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Vai com gt Naked Tracks gt Volumes VI amp VII Naked Tracks www vai com Archived from the original on October 28 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Part Two vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Martian Love Secrets vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Steve Vai Opens His Vaults for VaiTunes Series Guitar World Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 8 Essential Steve Vai Licks www premierguitar com August 8 2012 Archived from the original on December 22 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Guitar Lessons You Can Learn From Steve Vai tomhess net Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Tempo Mental vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved January 8 2016 Features Guitar Interactive Magazine Retrieved March 10 2021 February 2020 Richard Bienstock 28 Steve Vai goes in depth on his stunning new signature model the Ibanez PIA It s a guitar built for freakdom guitarworld Retrieved March 10 2021 NAMM 2020 Ibanez releases striking Steve Vai PIA Signature Guitar com January 16 2020 Retrieved February 9 2020 Alien Guitar Secrets www alienguitarsecrets com Archived from the original on January 7 2016 Retrieved January 8 2016 Steve Talks about the new DVD and more www vai com Archived from the original on March 4 2016 Retrieved January 9 2016 H3000 Factory Eventide www eventideaudio com Archived from the original on February 8 2016 Retrieved January 7 2016 United States Patent 4501185 Transducer for stringer musical instrument archived from the original on May 1 2018 retrieved January 7 2016 Evo 2 Bridge DiMarzio www dimarzio com Archived from the original on December 12 2015 Retrieved January 7 2016 Album The Ultra Zone vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 Steve Vai Legacy Tube Amplifier Series Carvin Audio Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 24 2015 Spring Gala Event 2014 China vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on March 4 2016 Retrieved January 7 2016 BTV Spring Festival Global Gala 2014 TV Movie 2014 IMDb Archived from the original on February 8 2016 Retrieved January 7 2016 The Studios Vai com Archived from the original on March 14 2006 Retrieved July 15 2014 Archived copy Archived from the original on July 23 2016 Retrieved March 14 2016 CS1 maint archived copy as title link Archived copy Archived from the original on July 23 2016 Retrieved March 14 2016 CS1 maint archived copy as title link Meet Steve Vai s Ibanez JEM Evo Guitar Guitar World Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Vai com All About Flo www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 28 2015 Vai com PIA black prototype www vai com Retrieved September 28 2021 youtube com Steve Vai Knappsack Retrieved September 28 2021 Archived copy Archived from the original on July 23 2016 Retrieved March 14 2016 CS1 maint archived copy as title link Archived copy Archived from the original on July 23 2016 Retrieved March 14 2016 CS1 maint archived copy as title link Archived copy Archived from the original on July 23 2016 Retrieved March 14 2016 CS1 maint archived copy as title link Morley Pedals Bad Horsie Wah www morleypedals com Archived from the original on March 4 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Morley Pedals Steve Vai Little Alligator Volume www morleypedals com Archived from the original on January 15 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 REVIEW Ibanez Jemini Steve Vai signature distortion pedal I Heart Guitar Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 28 2015 Rig Rundown Steve Vai Premier Guitar August 8 2012 Archived from the original on July 22 2015 Cooper Adam 1999 Steve Vai s 1999 Guitar Rig Archived October 19 2013 at the Wayback Machine GuitarGeek Com Cooper Adam 2007 Steve Vai s 2007 Guitar Rig Archived November 3 2013 at the Wayback Machine GuitarGeek Com Vaiography vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 27 2015 Retrieved December 30 2015 Pia Maiocco IMDb Archived from the original on January 5 2016 Retrieved December 30 2015 Hallebeek Richard May 21 2004 Interview to Steve Vai Guitar Magazine Hilversum Netherlands published 2005 Archived from the original on June 17 2016 Retrieved June 26 2016 Update from the hive vai com The Official Steve Vai Website www vai com Archived from the original on December 25 2015 Retrieved December 30 2015 1 Archived April 17 2006 at the Wayback Machine the AU interview Steve Vai New York the AU review the AU review Archived from the original on March 10 2016 Retrieved July 14 2017 Stillness in Motion YouTube YouTube Archived from the original on September 15 2016 Retrieved July 14 2017 External links EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Steve Vai Official website Prato Greg Steve Vai biography at AllMusic Audio Interview with Steve Vai on Guitar Jam Daily Billboard com discography of Steve Vai 2 Steve Vai Interview NAMM Oral History Library 2008 Retrieved from 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