Joe Satriani – Biography

Joe Satriani – Biography

Born July 15th, 1956 in Westbury, New York, Joseph “Joe” Satriani is an Italian American rock guitarist who has been nominated for Grammy Awards throughout his career, though he has never won. Before achieving success as a recording artist, Satriani worked as a guitar instructor, helping to develop the styles of a number of guitarists who would go on to achieve success.

Satriani was inspired to take up the guitar at age 14 upon hearing the news of legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix’s death. He heard the news when he was at football practice, and walked up to his coach and proclaimed he was quitting the team to become a guitarist. His style would be defined, Satriani says, when he began studying music with jazz guitarist Billy Bauer and jazz pianist Lennie Tristano in 1974. Tristano’s technically demanding teaching style, Satriani claims had a tremendous impact on his playing. Satriani began teaching guitar around that time, while studying music at Five Towns College, and Steve Vai, who also lived on Long Island, was his most notable early student.

Satriani would move west in 1978 to pursue a career in music, settling in Berkeley, California. He resumed teaching guitar, and would amass an impressive stable of pupils. Some of Satriai’s student’s included Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Steve Vai, Exodus’ Rick Hunolt, Testament’s Alex Skolnick, Andy Timmons, David Bryson of Counting Crows, Third Eye Blind’s Kevin Cadogan, Primus’ Larry LaLonde, Laaz Rockit’s Phil Kettner, T-Ride’s Geoff Tyson and Charlie Hunter.

In the 1980s, Satriani began playing with a San Francisco band called the Squares. The band didn’t achieve any commercial success, but Satriani would make a number of connections that would help Satriani later in his career. The Squares’ sound man John Cuniberti would later produce Satriani’s second solo album. Joe’s would next join the Greg Kihn Band, who were on the downside of their career, but the three years Satriani spent with the band (from 1985 to 1987) would allow him to fund the recording of his first solo album. During his time with Greg Kihn, Joe set his sights on a solo album and in 1986, released “Not of this Earth” on Relativity Records.

Shortly after “Not of this Earth” was released, Joe’s former pupil and friend Steve Vai achieved fame when former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth recruited him for his solo band. Vai promoted Satriani endlessly in interviews, particularly in guitar magazines, helping his second release, 1987’s “Surfing with the Alien”, reach No. 29 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The album produced three hits singles, and is still Satriani’s only release to go platinum in the United States. The success of the album made Satriani a household name among Rock music fans.

In 1988, after a brief stint touring with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, Satriani first tried his hand at producing the classic EP “The Eyes of Horror” by the death metal band Possessed. 1989 brought the guitarist’s third album, “Flying In a Blue Dream.” The song “Into the Light” was written as a tribute to Satriani’s father, who passed away while the album was being recorded. “Flying In a Blue Dream” expanded on the success of “Surfing with the Alien,” climbing as high as No. 23 on the Billboard chart. Three of the album’s tracks would later be used in films and on television, including “One Big Rush” which was included on the soundtrack for the Cameron Crowe film, “Say Anything…”.

In 1992, Satriani would release his most critically acclaimed and commercially successful album, “The Extremist.” The track “Summer Song” became a staple on Rock radio stations around the country immediately, and then exploded when Sony used the song in a television campaign for its Discman portable CD players. “Cryin’,” “Friends,” and the title track were also played often on radio stations across the country. The following year, Satriani replaced Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple for a tour of Japan. The concerts were hugely successful, and Satriani was asked to join permanently, but he had just signed a multi-album solo album with Sony Records and declined. Steve Morse would take the spot instead.

Satriani would go on to release a total of 13 studio albums, 3 EPs, 4 live albums and 4 compilations, in addition to several DVDs. He has sold more than ten million copies of his solo titles worldwide. He has also been credited for his work on album’s by dozens of artists, including guitar duties on Alice Cooper’s 1991 album “Hey Stoopid,” Spinal Tap’s 1992 release “Break Like the Wind,” and Blue Oyster Cult’s 1988 set “Imaginos.” He was credited with backing vocals on the 1986 debut album by the pop band Crowded House, and was integral to the solo albums by Greg Bissonette and Stu Hamm, who played in his band. He is also credited with composing much of the soundtrack for the video game “NASCAR 06: Total Team Control” and contributed on “Sega Rally Championship.”

Satiani founded G3 in 1996 with Steve Vai and Eric Johnson. The project was intended to be a touring power trio of guitarists and has persisted, off and on, with Satriani as the lone original member. Among the other guitarists who have participated are Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, Paul Gilbert, Uli Jon Roth, John Petrucci, Andy Timmons and several others.

In 2008 Satriani would join forces with Van Halen’s Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith to form the supergroup Chickenfoot. The band released its self-titled, debut album in June 2009, and the album climbed to No. 4 on the Billboard 200. A second album is reportedly forthcoming, tentatively scheduled to hit stores in the Fall of 2011.

Satriani is a technically sound guitarist and has been called a virtuoso by most of his peers. He cites as major influences on his style blues and rock guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, and Jeff Beck, but has developed his own, easily recognizable style. He was also heavily influenced by jazz guitarists such as Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery, Allan Holdsworth and Charlie Christian. He is fluent in virtually all advanced guitar techniques associated with Rock music, and is cited by dozens of guitarists as a major influence. Satriani also has the distinction of receiving the second-most Grammy nominations(15), behind Brian McKnight, among artists who’ve never taken a Grammy home.