JOE SATRIANI: “STEVE VAI Could Not Play Guitar at All When I Met Him”

JOE SATRIANI: "STEVE VAI Could Not Play Guitar at All When I Met Him"

Joe Satriani discussed his days as a guitar teacher – during which he taught the likes of Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett, Alex Skolnick, Larry LaLonde, Rick Hunolt, and more – telling Q103 when asked about the differences between teaching Vai and Kirk:

It was very different how I met them. Steve Vai was 12 years old and could not play guitar at all when I met him.

He showed up on my front door with a guitar with no strings in one hand and a pack of strings in the other, and said, ‘Hey, you’re teaching my friend. Can you teach me how to play too?’ So that was my introduction to Steve.

Kirk was already a really good guitar player; he was already the lead guitarist in Exodus when I met him. And I already moved to Berkeley, CA by then. So he walked into the store where I was teaching looking for lessons, ’cause he knew that I was teaching a bunch of other thrash metal kids in the neighborhood there.

So working with Kirk was a lot easier, because he was already a pretty accomplished player, he was already an advanced player. And he was still in Exodus at the time, but then, very quickly, he got the gig with Metallica, so the lessons became extremely important, because he was working and making albums.

Exciting times, very exciting times. They were both fantastically dedicated musicians, as they are today.

Last year, Kirk remembered his first lesson from Joe, telling CFOX:

It was actually very poignant. His first lesson to me was, ‘Learn your lesson. Don’t waste your time, don’t waste my time. I expect you to know everything that I gave you in a week’s time.’ I was, like, ‘This guy is serious.’ But you know what? I did it, and he kicked my ass.

But after a while, I was taking two lessons a week from him. I became so thirsty for what he had to offer me, I was just, like, ‘Bring it on! It’s all making sense. I wanna learn more.’

I have to say, Joe Satriani has always played that way. Ever since I first met him, he’s always played incredibly – with all the sounds and all the bar stuff and tapping and crazy licks that no one’s ever played, and still probably never plays. I mean, he’s just such a unique individual as a musician.