Joe Satriani

1956 – Joseph “Satch” Satriani (born July 15, 1956 in Westbury, New York, U.S.) is an American guitarist and former guitar instructor. He is heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. He also has a signature series amplifier, the Peavey JSX.

In 1988, Satriani was recruited by the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger as lead guitarist for Jagger’s first solo tour.

Biography and playing history
Satriani during a recent concert at the Rijnhal, Arnhem (June 12. 2008)
Satriani during a recent concert at the Rijnhal, Arnhem (June 12. 2008)

Satriani was inspired to play guitar at age 14 after learning of the death of Jimi Hendrix. He reportedly heard the news during an American football training session, where he immediately confronted his coach and announced that he was quitting to become a guitarist.

In 1974, Satriani studied music with jazz guitarist Billy Bauer and with reclusive jazz pianist Lennie Tristano. The technically demanding Tristano greatly influenced Satriani’s playing. Satriani also began teaching guitar, with his most notable student at the time being fellow Long Island native Steve Vai. while he was Vai’s teacher, he was attending Five Towns College for studying in music.

In 1978 Satriani moved to Berkeley, California to pursue a music career. Not long after his arrival he resumed teaching. His students included Kirk Hammett (Metallica), David Bryson (Counting Crows), Kevin Cadogan (Third Eye Blind), Larry LaLonde (Primus, Possessed), Alex Skolnick (Testament), Rick Hunolt (Exodus), Phil Kettner (Lääz Rockit), Geoff Tyson, and Charlie Hunter.

When his friend and former student Steve Vai gained fame playing with David Lee Roth in 1986, Vai raved about Satriani in several interviews with guitar magazines. In 1987, Satriani’s second album Surfing with the Alien produced popular radio hits and was the first all-instrumental release to chart so highly in many years. In 1988 Satriani helped produce the EP The Eyes of Horror for the death metal band Possessed.

In 1989, Satriani released the album Flying in a Blue Dream. The album sold well, particularly in Texas. “One Big Rush” was featured on the soundtrack to the Cameron Crowe movie Say Anything. “The Forgotten Part II” was featured on a Labatt Blue commercial in Canada in 1993. “Big Bad Moon”, one of Satriani’s few songs to feature his vocals, was a minor hit in late 1989.

In 1992, Satriani released The Extremist, his most critically acclaimed and commercially successful album to date. Radio stations across the country were quick to pick up on “Summer Song”, while “Cryin’”, “Friends” and the title track were regional hits.

In late 1993, Satriani joined Deep Purple as a short-term replacement for departed guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during the band’s Japanese tour. The concerts were such a success that Satriani was asked to join the band permanently, but he declined, having just signed a multi-album solo deal with Sony, so Steve Morse took the guitarist slot in Deep Purple.
Satriani live with G3 in Milan in 2004
Satriani live with G3 in Milan in 2004

In 1996, he formed G3, a concert tour featuring three instrumental rock guitarists – originally Satriani, Vai, and Eric Johnson. The G3 tour has continued periodically since its inaugural version, where Satriani is the only permanent member, featured with a floating second and third member, including among others Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robert Fripp, Andy Timmons, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Adrian Legg and Paul Gilbert.

In 1998 Satriani recorded and released Crystal Planet, which went back to a sound more reminiscent of his late ’80s work. Planet was followed up with Engines of Creation, one of his more experimental works featuring the ‘Electronica’ genre of music. During the subsequent tour, a pair of shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco were recorded in December 2000 and released as Live in San Francisco, a two-disc live album and DVD.

Over the next several years, Satriani regularly recorded and released new music, including Strange Beautiful Music in 2002 and Is There Love in Space? in 2004.

In 2006 Satriani recorded and released Super Colossal and Satriani Live!, another two-disc live album and DVD recorded May 3, 2006 at the Grove in Anaheim, CA.

On August 7, 2007 Epic/Legacy Recordings re-released Surfing with the Alien to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its release. This was a two-disc set that includes a remastered album and a DVD of a previously never-before-seen live show filmed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1988.

Satriani’s newest album, titled Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock, was released on April 1, 2008.

It was revealed on May 29, 2008 that Satriani is involved in a new hard rock project with former Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. The band, which will feature Hagar on vocals, Satriani on guitar, Anthony on bass and Smith on drums, is tentatively called “Chickenfoot”

On July 24, 2008 Satriani’s song ‘Surfing With the Alien’ was made available for download on Activision’s Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock over XBox Live or the Playstation Network, along with former student Steve Vai’s ‘For the Love of God’ and Buckethead’s ‘Soothsayer’.

Other work
Joe Satriani with Stu Hamm in concert, Rijnhal, Arnhem (June 12., 2008)
Joe Satriani with Stu Hamm in concert, Rijnhal, Arnhem (June 12., 2008)

Satriani is also credited on many other albums, including guitar duties on Alice Cooper’s 1991 album Hey Stoopid, Spinal Tap’s 1992 album Break Like the Wind, Blue Öyster Cult’s 1988 album Imaginos, band members Stu Hamm and Gregg Bissonette’s solo albums. Interestingly, he was credited with singing background vocals on the 1986 debut album by Crowded House. In 2003, he played lead guitar on The Yardbirds’s CD release Birdland. In 2006 he made appearances on several tracks for Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan’s solo CD/DVD dual disc Gillan’s Inn. On Dream Theater’s 2007 album, Systematic Chaos, Satriani contributed spoken lyrics to the song “Repentance”.

He is also featured in the Christopher Guest film, For Your Consideration, as the guitarist in the band that played for the late-night show.

Technique and influence

Satriani is widely recognized as a technically highly advanced rock guitarist, and has been described as a virtuoso During fast passages, Joe favors a technique known as legato (achieved primarily through hammer-ons and pull-offs) which yields smooth and flowing runs. He is also adept at other speed-related techniques such as speed picking (a rapid form of alternate picking) and sweep picking, but uses them relatively rarely.

His success is notable in a genre typically unfriendly to instrumental musicians. Satriani has received 14 Grammy nominations

An influential guitarist himself.

Gear

Satriani has endorsed Ibanez’s JS Series guitars, and Peavey’s JSX amplifier. Both lines were designed specifically as signature products for Satriani. However, Satriani uses a variety of gear. Many of his guitars are made by Ibanez, including the JS1000, and JS1200. These guitars typically feature the DiMarzio PAF Pro (which he used up until 1993 in both the neck and bridge positions), the DiMarzio Fred (which he used in the bridge position from 1993 to present day), and the Mo’ Joe and the Paf Joe (which he uses in the bridge and neck positions, respectively, from 2005 to present day). The JS line of guitars is his signature line, and they feature the Edge Pro, which is Ibanez’s exclusive vibrato system, although he’s always used the Original Edge unit on his guitars. The mirrored ‘chrome’ guitar he is primarily associated with and used on the Live in San Francisco DVD is called Chrome Boy. Satriani also uses a number of other JS models such as the JS double neck model, JS700 (primary axe on the self-titled CD and seen on the 1995 tour “Joe Satriani”, which features a fixed bridge, P-90 pickups, and a matching mahogany body and neck), JS600 (natural body) , JS1 (the original JS model), JS2000 (fixed bridge model), a variety of JS100s, JS1000s and JS1200s with custom paint work, and a large amount of prototype JSs. All double locking bridges have been the original Edge tremolo, not the newer models, which point to a more custom guitar than the “off the shelf” models. Joe has also played a red 7-string JS model, as seen in the “G3 Live in Tokyo” DVD from 2005.
Satriani and the band
Satriani and the band

Satriani has used a wide variety of guitar amps over the years, using Marshall Amplification for his main amplifier (notably the limited edition blue coloured 6100 LM model) up until 2001, and his Peavey signature series amps, the Peavey JSX, thereafter. The JSX began life as a prototype Peavey XXX and developed into the Joe Satriani signature Peavey model, now available for purchase in retail stores. Joe Satriani has used other amplifiers over the years in the studio, however. Those include the Peavey 5150 (used to record the song ‘Crystal Planet’), Cornford, and the Mesa/Boogie Mark IIC+ (used to record the song ‘Flying in a Blue Dream’), amongst others.

His effects pedals include the Vox wah, Dunlop Cry Baby wah, RMC Wizard Wah, Digitech Whammy, BOSS DS-1, BOSS CH-1, BOSS CE-2, BOSS DD-2 and a standard BOSS DD-3 (used together to emulate reverb effects), BOSS BF-3, BOSS OC-2, Barber Burn Drive Unit, Fulltone Deja Vibe, Fulltone Ultimate Octave, and Electro-Harmonix POG (Polyphonic Octave Generator), the latter being featured prominently on the title cut to his 2006 Super Colossal.

Satriani has also partnered recently with Planet Waves to create a signature line of guitar picks and guitar straps featuring his sketch art.

Although Satriani endorses the JSX, he has also used many different amps in the studio when recording, including the Peavey Classic. He is also known to have used Marshall heads and cabinets, including live, prior to his Peavey endorsement. Most recently Satriani used the JSX head through a Palmer Speaker Simulator. Joe Satriani has also released a Class-A 5-watt tube amp called the “Mini Colossal”.

He is currently working with Vox on his own line of signature effects pedals designed to deliver Satriani’s trademark tone plus a wide range of new sounds for guitarists of all playing styles and ability levels. The first being a signature distortion pedal titled the “Satchurator”, with more to follow in 2008.

Recurring themes

Satriani’s work frequently makes references to various science fiction stories and/or ideas. “Surfing with the Alien”, “Back to Shalla-Bal” and “The Power Cosmic 2000″ refer to the comic book character Silver Surfer, while “Ice 9″ refers to the secret government ice weapon in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. “Borg Sex” is a reference to Star Trek, which features a homogeneous cybernetic race known as the Borg. Additionally, his albums and songs often have other-worldly titles, such as Not of this Earth, Crystal Planet, Is There Love in Space?, and Engines of Creation.

On the album Super Colossal the song titled “Crowd Chant” was originally called “Party on the Enterprise”. “Party on the Enterprise” featured sampled sounds from the Starship Enterprise from the Star Trek TV show. But as Satriani explained in a podcast, legal issues regarding the samples could not be resolved and he was unable to get permission to use them. Satriani then removed the sounds from the song and called it “Crowd Chant.” This song is also used as the Minnesota Wild’s goal horn.

“Redshift Riders”, another song on the Super Colossal album, is “…based on the idea that in the future, when people can travel throughout space, they will theoretically take advantage of the cosmological redshift effect so they can be swung around large planetary objects and get across

On the album Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock the song “I Just Wanna Rock”, is about a giant robot on the run who happens upon a rock concert.

Discography

Solo albums

* 1986 – Not of This Earth
* 1987 – Surfing with the Alien
* 1989 – Flying in a Blue Dream
* 1992 – The Extremist
* 1993 – Time Machine
* 1995 – Joe Satriani
* 1998 – Crystal Planet
* 2000 – Engines of Creation
* 2002 – Strange Beautiful Music
* 2004 – Is There Love in Space?
* 2006 – Super Colossal
* 2008 – Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock

EPs

* Dreaming #11
* The Satch Ep
* Additional Creations

Compilations

* The Beautiful Guitar
* The Electric Joe Satriani: An Anthology
* Joe Satriani Original Album Classics
* One Big Rush

Live albums

* 1993 – Time Machine
* 2001 – Live in San Francisco
* 2006 – Satriani Live!

With other artists
Year     Artist     Album
1986     Greg Kihn     Love And Rock And Roll
1987     Danny Gottleib     Aquamarine
1988     Stuart Hamm     Radio Free Albemuth
1991     Alice Cooper     Hey Stoopid
1992     Spinal Tap     Break Like the Wind
1997     Steve Vai / Eric Johnson     G3: Live in Concert
1997     Steve Vai / Alex Lifeson / Joe Perry     Merry Axemas Volume 1
2003     Steve Vai / Yngwie Malmsteen     G3: Rockin’ in the Free World
2003     The Yardbirds     Birdland
2005     Steve Vai / John Petrucci     G3: Live in Tokyo
2006     Ian Gillan     Gillan’s Inn
2007     John 5     The Devil Knows My Name
2007     Dream Theater (spoken voice only)     Systematic Chaos
2009     Sammy Hagar, Chad Smith, Michael Anthony Tentatively titled “ChickenFoot”     Untitled

Satriani has also composed many songs that are featured in the series of NASCAR based video games including NASCAR 06: Total Team Control.

Satriani’s “Summer Song” is included in the soundtrack for the video game Gran Turismo 4. “Summer Song” is also included on the Formula 1 game for the Sony PlayStation, along with “Back to Shalla-Bal.” “Summer Song” had also been briefly used during a 30 second advertising spots for both Pepsi, and the Sony Walkman.

Philanthropy

In 2006, Satriani signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organization that provides free musical instruments and free lessons to children in public schools throughout the U.S.A. Satriani has personally delivered instruments to children in the program through a charity raffle for the organization and, in common with Steve Vai, sits on its board of directors as an honorary member.

Awards and nominations

Nominations

Satriani now has the most Grammy Award nominations of anyone (14) without winning .
Nominations Year     Album     Category
1989     Surfing with the Alien     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
1990     The Crush of Love     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
1991     Flying in a Blue Dream     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
1993     The Extremist     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
1994     Speed of Light     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
1995     All Alone     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
1997     (You’re) My World     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
1998     Summer Song (Live)     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
1999     A Train of Angels     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
2001     Until We Say Goodbye     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
2002     Always With Me, Always With You     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
2003     Starry Night     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
2006     Super Colossal     Best Rock Instrumental Performance
2008     Always with Me, Always with You (Live)     Best Rock Instrumental Performance

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