Marty Friedman on Jason Becker’s talent in Cacophony: “He spurted in growth like an absolute genius, like he had a past life”

“Watching him just blossom was a wonderful thing to remember.”

Jason Becker

Jason Becker in Cacophony promo picture, Image: Media Punch / Alamy

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Marty Friedman has reflected on his early work with Jason Becker in their first band together, Cacophony, praising his collaborator for his immense talent at the time.

Friedman was a guest on last week’s episode of The Eddie Trunk Podcast, where he was asked about Cacophony’s two studio albums, 1987’s Speed Metal Symphony and the following year’s Go Off!.

“Jason was 17 when we did that stuff,” Friedman recalled. “And he spurted in growth like an absolute genius – like he had a past life or something.”

“It’s like, ‘Where did he get this growth from?’ I grow little by little, but he’s just, from the first Cacophony [album] to the second one – it was like he grew 10 years,” Friedman continued. “Watching him just blossom was a wonderful thing to remember.”

Looking back at his own playing on the records, Friedman admitted he felt he had “much more of a limited vocabulary back then” – though the experience paved the way for him to grow as an artist and songwriter.

“I definitely progressed in how to really give people goosebumps, and give myself those chills and the spine-tingling moments,” he noted.

Becker’s guitar-playing career was tragically cut short at the age of 22, after he was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). The neuromuscular disease robbed him of his ability to play guitar, walk and speak.

Despite this, Becker continues to write music and is still highly regarded as a shred icon.  His long friendship with Friedman – stemming from their time in Cacophony – has manifested in numerous collaborations over the years. Most recently, Friedman played on the title track to Becker’s latest album, Triumphant Hearts, which also featured guest players the likes of Steve Vai and Greg Howe.

In May, an array of guitar stars – from Guthrie Govan and Andy Timmons to Nili Brosh – donated signed guitars to a special Jason Becker Reverb store to raise funds for the ALS-stricken virtuoso’s medical expenses.

If you would like to make a donation to Becker, you can do so on his website.

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