Joe Satriani could be considered one of the greatest hard rock guitar players of all time. Known primarily as an instrumentalist, the layers of diversity in his style of music are what have kept him relevant after decades in the business.
Legend has it that Satriani, who began playing guitar at the age of 14, quit football in the middle of practice on the day Jimi Hendrix died. He left the field, telling his coach he was quitting to become a guitarist. Football’s loss is the music world’s gain, as Satriani has not only toured with some of the greatest names in rock-n-roll and heavy metal history, but he has also taught some of the most talented guitarists and helped them hone their craft.
Born to Italian immigrants on July 15, 1956, Joe Satriani grew up in Westbury, NY. In 1974 he studied music under jazz guitarist Billy Bauer and jazz pianist Lennie Tristano. Satriani also began teaching guitar at this time and one of his most notable students was Steve Vai, who attended the same high school.
In 1978 Joe left New York and went to Berkeley, Calif., where he continued to teach guitar while pursuing a music career. He recorded his first full-length studio album, Not of This Earth, in 1986. Members of The Greg Kihn Band asked Satriani to join them and generously paid off the credit card debt he had accumulated in the making of his first album.
Former student Steve Vai was gaining fame in 1987 while playing guitar for David Lee Roth. Vai gave several interviews in which he raved about Satriani. This was the same year Joe released his second album, Surfing with the Alien, which produced several hits, and was the first all-instrumental album to rate highly on the music charts in several years.
His most commercially successful and critically acclaimed album, The Extremist, came out in 1992. When “Summer Song” was released it received much attention from the music industry and radio stations across the country added the song to their playlists. “Summer Song” was featured in the Sony Discman portable CD player commercials, giving it even more exposure.
Satriani had already toured with Mick Jagger during his first solo tour in 1988, when he joined Deep Purple on their 1994 Japanese tour as a temporary replacement for guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. When asked to be the full-time guitarist for the band, Satriani declined, moving on to a multi-album solo career with Sony.
In 1996 Satriani founded G3, a tour that originally featured Steve Vai, Eric Johnson and Joe as the guitarists. The G3 Tour continues intermittently, and Satriani is the only permanent member of the tour. The G3 Tour has included such greats as Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robert Fripp, John Petrucci, Steve Morse, Andy Timmons, Michael Schenkeer and Adrian Legg.
In addition to his incredibly successful music career, which continues decades after he began playing guitar, Satriani has his only line of Ibanez guitars that he designed. The Ibanez line of Satriani signature guitars includes the JS1000, JS1200 and JS2400. All use Ibanez’s original Edge locking Tremolo Bridge. Joe Satriani has also written a book, Strange Beautiful Music, with Jake Brown. Joe Satriani’s website contains all tour information, as well as merchandise.