I grew up in Westbury, New York, and was raised in the nearby town of Carle Place. My grandparents were from Italy but my parents were New Yorkers. I was the youngest of five children. On one hand, I was neglected as my parents were busy raising the others. But it also gave me the chance to have more freedom, which was a good thing. My mother played the piano; my sisters and brother played the guitar; another brother played the harmonica while an uncle was a professional accordian-player. So it was pretty much a musical family. I started off with drums at the age of nine. The kind of music around me was varied ' early rock ' roll, Motown, lots of jazz, classical music... Inspired by guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, I shifted to guitar at 14.
Ell, I started to teach guitar because I needed the money. By then, I had worked as a gardener, a bricklayer, even in a clothing store, but what I really wanted to do was to stick around music. And one day a couple of kids I went to high school with asked me for guitar lessons. One of those kids was Steve Vai.
Or all of you who want to become a guitarist, I would separate the playing part from the profession. For the profession part, I'd say get a good haircut, and a good lawyer. And this coming from someone with no hair!
N the music side, it's obvious that you need to practise things like the notes, the scales and the chords. The other thing is to try and strive to be original. That's what the audience wants. We're looking to be surprised.
Hen I was a teacher, I saw a lot of homogenisation from people wanting to belong, to the point where they were copying. I think that's a mistake. It doesn't work professionally, unless you have something unique to offer.