Steve Vai reveals what Joe Satriani was like as a guitar teacher: “He was always solid, sharing and strict”

Name me a more iconic mentor-mentee duo.

Steve Vai Playing Guitar

Image: MediaPunch Inc / Alamy

Steve Vai has opened up about what life was like under the tutelage of guitar wizard Joe Satriani.

In a recent appearance on LifeMinute, Vai recalled the first time he was introduced to Satch and said that the man has since become such a big part of his life that he “can’t even fathom what [his] life would be like without him”.

“When I was 12, a friend of mine, John Sergio, who was a friend when we were in diapers, was also a great mentor, because he introduced me to all this music that I was unaware of — progressive rock from the ’70s. He brought me to my first Queen concert. He brought me into his band; it was the first band I was in when I was 13. He’s been a dear friend. Incredible musical taste, and he was playing the guitar when I was 12, and I couldn’t believe it, ’cause he lived two houses away,” Vai recounted.

“And then he said, ‘If you think I’m great, you should see my guitar teacher, Joe Satriani.’ So he gave me Joe’s number, and I started taking lessons. And my lessons with Joe were all that mattered to me.”

“Joe was always cool,” Vai said. “He was always solid, sharing and strict. And it was the best thing because he was great, and that’s what you want in a teacher; you’re inspired by seeing.”

The guitarist also expressed his gratitude for the two’s ongoing bond, saying, “To this day, the thing that I got most… There’s so many things. And we’re so fortunate that all through these years we’ve been joined at the hips.”

“When I would watch him play, when I was 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, everything he touched on the instrument sounded like music,” Vai continued. “When it came out of his fingers, it just sounded good; it sounded like there was a soul in it.”

“It wasn’t just noodly nothingness, the kind of academic exercises and stuff like that. I mean, we did some of that; that’s part of the training. So I always appreciated that. And still, he’s so solid and he’s so musical. His inner musical ear is inspired, that he’s continued to be an inspiration my whole life.”

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