Steve Vai is a virtuoso guitarist, visionary composer, and consummate producer who
sculpts musical sound with infinite creativity and technical mastery. At age 12,
he started taking guitar lessons from Joe Satriani. At 18, he began his professional
musical career transcribing for, and then playing with, the legendary Frank Zappa.
More than three decades, 15-
Vai’s work has been recognized with a long list of awards, including an even dozen from Guitar Player. The TEC Foundation recently honored him with the prestigious Les Paul Award, created in 1991 to salute those who have set the highest standard of excellence in the creative application of technology. Past winners include Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan, and Bob Clearmountain. In bestowing it on Vai, TEC noted, “Steve Vai’s sheer breathtaking facility on the guitar is acclaimed in the rock world and beyond…Vai has dedicated his talents to creatively advance the language of music. While many artists fit easily into a single category, Steve Vai remains unclassifiable. He is a musical alchemist of the highest order.”
The forthcoming chapters of Vai’s alchemy will be released on Sony Music Entertainment
and Legacy Recordings, it was announced on February 19, 2015. Vai has signed a new
Steve Vai -
The new multi-
Vai will host his second Vai Academy guitar camp — All About Guitar — in Vail, Colorado,
at The Arrabelle at Vail Square, August 2-
2012’s The Story of Light, Vai's 16th solo album, followed up the 2009 live tour de force Where the Wild Things Are, and was released on Favored Nations Entertainment, founded by Vai in 1999 to present works by musicians who have “attained the highest performance level on their chosen instruments.” The label’s roster features artists including Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Lukather, Eric Johnson, Billy Sheehan, and Larry Carlton, and more than 70 releases.
The Story of Light follows the cosmic journey of a man driven mad by grief, intertwining
tragedy, revelation, enlightenment, and redemption. It continues a narrative arc
begun on Vai’s 2005 album Real Illusions: Reflections (his last solo studio release).
Largely instrumental, The Story of Light spotlights guest vocalists including singer-
Throughout, Vai’s lead guitar lines bend sounds and listeners’ minds in equal measure. Looking ahead, he envisions a third set of songs that will unravel the mysteries and reveal truths woven through The Story of Light and its predecessor. The completed trilogy, envisioned as cinematic—even operatic—in scope, will include lyrics, narration, and visuals.
Vai’s full discography encompasses more than 60 albums, including many with Zappa, others from his stints with David Lee Roth (just after he left Van Halen) and Whitesnake—at the peak of its popularity—live releases, collaborations, compilations, and orchestral works. Highlights include 1990’s groundbreaking Passion and Warfare, and 2007’s Sound Theories Vol. 1 & 2, performed with the Netherlands’ Metropole Orkest. Vai’s other orchestral compositions include “The Middle of Everywhere,” which had its world premiere in 2011 with the Noord Nederlands Orkest, whose director Marcel Mandos said, “Steve Vai’s music can easily compete with that of famous contemporary composers.”
Vai’s signature instruments include the Ibanez JEM guitar, which he designed in 1985
In the film realm, Vai has credits including Executive Producer for the acclaimed 2008 Hank Garland biopic Crazy, in which he also appears as Hank Williams. In the 1986 feature Crossroads, inspired by the legend of blues icon Robert Johnson, he appears as Jack Butler, “the devil's guitarist”—and collaborated with Ry Cooder on the music scenes.
In 1998, Vai established (with Ruta Sepetys) the Make a Noise Foundation to provide instruments and music education to young musicians without means. “Music educates the whole person as an integrated individual. It educates the mind, the senses, and the emotions,” says Vai. “Those interested in music should not have to sacrifice their ability to develop important skills and express emotions due to limited financial resources.”