Based on my upbringing, I’ve never been one to freak out over meeting someone with any kind of celebrity status. Gotta thank my parents and their friends for that. Cause they had some super famous friends and to my sister and I, they were just people.
When I first started living in LA, I was living with a singer that fans of the metal genre would worship. To me, he was Jeff. So yeah, I don’t really freak out. Jeff turned me on to a band called Jellyfish in a big way. He wasn’t the first to get me to listen to them, but he was the first to really insist that I pay attention to their music.
That’s how I became aware of a musician by the name of Eric Dover. Eric was a guitar player and background vocalist for some of Jellyfish’s tours. Any student of the Jellyfish knows you had to be a monster musician to be in that band.
There are stories of Eric going home from Jellyfish rehearsals in tears because they were so hard on him.
After Jellyfish, Eric went on to front Slash’s Snake Pit for a while. Fronted Imperial Drag and a band called Sextus. I admire Eric for his voice, and his tenacity. There’s a quality to his musicianship that I really think is special.
There’s the preamble…
My first gig as a solo artist in LA was at a place called The Gig. Located on Melrose Ave. Don’t bother looking it up, it’s closed down now.
The Gig was a super nice club. Good atmosphere and the people booking it were actually nice. The woman that booked me there liked me enough to give me a decent slot on a Friday night for my first chance. Which isn’t how it normally worked in LA.
My band had the second soundcheck as we were the second to last band on the bill, soundchecks always run reverse order of the lineup. Or at least they usually do. Anyway, we were in the process of loading our gear in and about to be called up to the stage when this guy walks by me, and I think to myself – damn he looks an awful lot like Eric Dover.
“Eric!” I say.
The guy stops and turns around.
“You’re Eric Dover!” I blurt out.
He got a look of being flattered that someone would recognize him and suddenly we’re chatting and geeking out about guitars and music. It was really cool to meet someone who’s musical talent I really respected and he was super cool.
As it happened, his band was the headliner for the night. They had just finished soundcheck and were leaving.
My band and I were getting shuffled on to the stage to do our soundcheck. We got setup, all set to play. The sound guy is dialing things in when all of a sudden thru the monitors we hear, hold up. Looking over to the sound guy he’s scratching his head and says “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… Both of you guitar players can turn up!”
So Chris and I turn up and we finish the sound check.
As I’m getting off the stage Eric comes over to me and tells me how much he liked what he heard. I thanked him for sticking around cause in reality he didn’t have to do that. Usually the headliner takes off and goes to relax somewhere else before they come back for the show.
Inside I was jumping up and down in excitement that a musical hero of mine listened, enjoyed and complimented me. That really made my day. The gig itself was icing on the cake.
What an introduction to my solo career.
Every musician out there has at least one other musician that has influenced their musical perspective.
Stealing From One Source
It’s been said that mediocre artists steal entirely from one source. Hence my opening line that we all have at least one influence. I remember very distinctly a music teacher that uttered those very words about mediocre artists when I was learning as much as I could about music. His point was – don’t be mediocre.
Stealing From Everywhere
One the flip side it’s also said that great artists steal from more than one source, or with my twist – everywhere. This is where I’m going to divulge at least 5 musicians that had varying degrees of profound impact on my guitar playing and my musical sense. Believe me, I’m well beyond the 5 musician mark of “stealing” ideas from, but I don’t wish to overwhelm you with them all.
Seriously, there is no order to this, but I gotta start somewhere and the first guitarist is Joe Satriani. His guitar abilities and his musical sensibility are, to put it mildly, out of this world. Which is probably why one of my favorite albums of his is called Surfing With The Alien. Joe’s writing is insane for what is almost an entirely instrumental career. His melodies are often very memorable and his rhythmic sense is top notch. If ever there were a guitarist alive today that I’d want to do an instrumental album with as a co-writer and co-player, Joe is it. Hopefully I can make this happen before he kicks the bucket.
May the force of the original be with you. The original guitar made by your own hands that is. See, the next guitarist was so cool that he made his own instrument with his father. He also helped create some of the most memorable tunes in history with a little known band called Queen. This would be Brian May. Like Joe, I have not met Brian. Though I have met a band mate of his. Despite that, Brian has heard at least one story about me through someone we both know. How the hell that came up in a conversation is beyond me.
Despite that, I heard that he was flattered in regards to the story as it did relate to me playing his guitar parts. Would I love to meet him? You bet. Would I love to write a song with him? You bet. Like Luke, his chordal and theoretical musical abilities are incredible.
Eddie, Eddie, Eddie… As much as I’d like to humor you and say I’m referring to Eddie Wilson, I am in fact referencing a very different Eddie. Rather, it’s Eddie Van Halen. I did make a a post recently about how some of my career has paralleled Eddie’s. Which was a rather bold thing to say looking back on it. Maybe not so much paralleled as has some similar things about how we both approach music from a work ethic and sonic desire standpoint. Sadly Ed has passed, but his music and his insane guitar wizardry has been captured and archived for the world to remember him by. If you need a reason for his influence on me, it would be rhythm. Yes he was known for his wild solos, but his rhythmic sense was way beyond most guitarists. I believe that has rubbed off into my ethos as well.
Luke! No, he’s not my father. That’s the nickname to the 2nd guitarist that I would say had an indirect but amazing impact upon my playing life. I write indirect because I never truly studied his playing, but there is no doubt that his writing and playing has had a profound impact well beyond those that are even aware of his name: Steve Lukather. Even non-musicians know his music. His chordal and melodic sense are amazing. His improvisational skills are jaw dropping. To boot, he’s a funny human being and a super cool guy to hang out with. There’s a story I can relate at some point in the future. Until that day I get the gumption to write about our initial meeting, you’ll have to Hold The Line.
This is a goddamned toss-up so I’m going to mention two name in this paragraph and by no means is this a definite list. If I were to write about this at another time, I’d likely have 5 other names on the list. So here they are rubbed together like two buffalo nickels: Steve Nuno Vai Bettencourt. Oops, I mishmashed them a little too much. Steve Vai and Nuno Bettencourt. When you want a guitarist who has passionate chops for days, that’s Steve Vai (a student of Satriani) who also had the pleasure of working with Zappa.
Man, just thinking about him brings up several stories. Yes, I’ve met and hung out with him and that’s a post for some time in the future. When you need Extreme chops you don’t need to look much further than Nuno. His rhythmic chops rival those of Eddie, but he goes somewhere all his own. Which is the name of the game. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting him and seeing him play live on multiple occasions. He’s definitely a force. It’s those rhythmic things that he imparted on me as well.
There it is
As I’ve mentioned if you were to ask me about 5 guitarists at any other time, you’re likely to get another 5 answers. There’s two many amazing guitar players out there. At least now you have some perspective on my musical perspective based on just 5 guitar players that have had some sort of impact on my career.