Billy Idol Guitarist Steve Stevens Pays Tribute to Mark Hitt: “My early Jedi Master” – 2022

Steve Stevens:

I’m going to tell you a little story. I was 17 years old, and I was looking to join a band. I saw an ad in the local free paper Good Times. Band looking for guitarist for cover band playing Led Zeppelin, Mott The Hoople, Jethro Tull, and Yes.

Long story short, my dad drives me to audition ha ha. I proceed to play with the band called One Hand Clap. I then play them my note for note rendition of Yes, Yours Is No Disgrace live version from Yessongs. I’m asked to join the band and quickly get taken under the wing of the drummer Chris Catalano, the leader. At this time, I knew Jack shit about guitars, gear, PA systems and amplifiers. I had a rather primitive Univox guitar. Chris says, “First thing you gotta do is come with me to see a guitarist named Mark Hitt in a band named Rat Race Choir”.

The next weekend we go to the Long Island club Speaks and I watch the most incredible guitarist I had ever seen. Mark broke all the rules. Played a Gibson ES335 hollow body through a stack of Hiwatt amps. He attacked the guitar like a madman. He controlled its feedback like an art form. He produced a tone that permeated your rib cage but never shrill or harsh. This was before Van Halen and all the LA shred guys. Mark was closer to Jimmy Page but with the chips of Alan Holdsworth. Mark became one of my heroes. I’d go see him numerous times, later becoming friends.

To every guitarist that learned their craft in the NY tri state area around the late 70s, Mark Hitt was THE GUY. Chris Catalano and I remained friends up until his passing a number of years ago. I spoke of Mark in numerous interviews, paying homage to the guy who was my early Jedi Master.

Mark Hitt passed away yesterday. I had no idea he was ill. I will carry forever the impression of a 17-year-old kid watching this man produce magic ten feet before my eyes. God Speed Mark Hitt, you taught us well.