Joseph Satriani (born July 15, 1956) is an American instrumental rock guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and multiple Grammy Award nominee. Early in his career, Satriani worked as a guitar instructor, with many of his former students achieving fame, such as: Steve Vai, Larry LaLonde, Rick Hunolt, Kirk Hammett, Andy Timmons, Charlie Hunter, Kevin Cadogan and Alex Skolnick.
In 1988, Satriani was recruited by Mick Jagger as lead guitarist for his first solo tour. In 1994, Satriani toured with Deep Purple as the lead guitarist. He has worked with a range of guitarists during the G3 tour, which he founded in 1995. His G3 collaborators have included Vai, LaLonde, Timmons, Steve Lukather, John Petrucci, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Brian May, Patrick Rondat, Paul Gilbert, Adrian Legg, Steve Morse and Robert Fripp. He is currently the lead guitarist for the supergroup Chickenfoot. Since 1988, Satriani has been using his own signature guitars, the Ibanez JS Series, which is sold in music stores worldwide. He has also collaborated with Vox to create his own wah, delay, overdrive and distortion pedals as well as a collaboration with Marshall Amplification for the creation of his own signature series amplifier head, the JVM410HJS.
Descended from Italian immigrants, Satriani was born in Westbury, New York. He was inspired to play guitar at age 14, after hearing of the death of Jimi Hendrix. He has been said to have heard the news during a football training session, where he 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 began teaching guitar, with his most notable student at the time being fellow Long Island native Steve Vai. While he was teaching Vai, he was attending Five Towns College for studies in music.
In 1978, Satriani moved to Berkeley, California to pursue a music career. Soon after arriving in California, he resumed teaching. His students included Kirk Hammett of Metallica, David Bryson of Counting Crows, Kevin Cadogan from Third Eye Blind, Larry LaLonde of Primus and Possessed, Alex Skolnick of Testament, Rick Hunolt (ex-Exodus), Phil Kettner of Lääz Rockit, Geoff Tyson of T-Ride, Charlie Hunter and David Turin.
Satriani started playing in a San Francisco-based band called the Squares, where he continued to network and make musical connections (Squares sound man John Cuniberti co-produced his second album). He was invited to join the Greg Kihn Band, who were on the downside of their career, but whose generosity helped Satriani pay off the overwhelming credit card debt from recording his first album. 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, including Guitar World magazine.
In 1987, Satriani's second album Surfing with the Alien produced radio hits and was the first all-instrumental release to chart so highly in many years. The track 'Crushing Day' was featured on the soundtrack of a low-budget film titled 'It Takes Two'. 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. It was said to be inspired by the death of his father, who died in 1989 during the recording of the album. "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. "Can't Slow Down" featured in a car-chase sequence in the Don Johnson starring show Nash Bridges.
Joe Satriani also sang backing vocals on the self-titled Crowded House album. Satriani was a friend of Mitchell Froom. Neil Finn of Crowded House confirms this in an interview with FlixelPix photographer David Cleland.
In 1992, Satriani released The Extremist, his most critically acclaimed and commercially successful album to date. Radio stations across the country picked up "Summer Song," which got a major boost when Sony used it in a major commercial campaign for their Discman portable CD players. "Cryin'," "Friends," and the title track were regional hits on radio. In late 1993, Satriani joined Deep Purple as a temporary replacement for departed guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during the band's Japanese tour. The concerts were a success, and Satriani was asked to join the band permanently but he declined, having just signed a multi-album solo deal with Sony, and Steve Morse took the guitarist slot in Deep Purple.
In 1996, Satriani founded the G3, a concert tour intended to feature a trio of guitarists. The original lineup featured Satriani, Vai and Eric Johnson. The G3 tour has continued periodically since its inaugural version, with Satriani the only permanent member. Other guitarists who have performed in G3 include among others: Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robert Fripp, Andy Timmons, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Adrian Legg, Paul Gilbert, Steve Morse and Steve Lukather. In 1998 Satriani recorded and released Crystal Planet, which went back to a sound reminiscent of his late '80s work. Planet was followed up with Engines of Creation, one of his more experimental works featuring the electronica genre. A pair of shows at the Fillmore West in San Francisco were recorded in December 2000 and released as Live in San Francisco, a two-disc live album and DVD.
Satriani regularly recorded and released evolving music, including Strange Beautiful Music in 2002 and Is There Love in Space? in 2004. In May 2005, Satriani toured India for the first time, playing concerts in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. 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. In 2006, Satriani signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organization that provides free musical instruments and instruction to children in underserved 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, like Steve Vai, sits on its board of directors as an honorary member.
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 never-before-seen live show filmed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1988. Satriani's next album Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock, was released on April 1, 2008. Satriani released a live DVD recording of a concert in Paris titled Live In Paris: I Just Wanna Rock and a companion 2 CD set on February 2, 2010. In March 2010 Satriani participated with other guitarists in the Experience Hendrix Tribute Tour, performing music written and inspired by Jimi Hendrix.
On 29 May 2008 it was revealed that Satriani was involved in a new hard rock band called Chickenfoot with former Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. The band features Hagar on vocals, Satriani on guitar, Anthony on bass and Smith on drums. Their debut album was released on 5 June 2009. The first single and video released was the track "Oh Yeah," which was played on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien on 5 June 2009. Satriani received a co-writing credit on all the songs on the band's debut album. Broken Records magazine asked Satriani about his new band, and he enthusiastically mentioned that "it was great fun" and it gives him a "kick in the music bone" to be playing with such great talent. He said it felt quite natural to step back and play more rhythm guitar than solo guitar. Chickenfoot's second album was titled III, and was released on 27 September 2011. Its first single was the track 'Bigfoot'. On its first week of release, it reached a chart position of #9.
In April, Satriani and Chickenfoot voiced themselves in an episode of the animated television series Aqua Teen Hunger Force. In May 2010, Satriani announced he was about to enter the studio to record a solo album, and dates were released for an autumn tour. He also said that demos had been recorded for a second Chickenfoot album. Satriani released his 13th studio album Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards, on October 5, 2010.
On December 4, 2008 Satriani filed a copyright infringement suit against Coldplay in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Satriani's suit claims that the Coldplay song "Viva la Vida" includes "substantial original portions" of the Satriani song "If I Could Fly" from his 2004 album, Is There Love in Space?. The Coldplay song in question received two Grammy Awards for "Song of the Year." Coldplay denied the allegation. An unspecified settlement was reached between the parties.
Satriani released the DVD/Blu-ray of his 3D concert film Satchurated: Live in Montreal on April 24, 2012 after its limited showing in theaters. The film was shot in December 2010 in Montreal and was directed by award-winning filmmakers François and Pierre Lamoureux. Satchurated is the first Blu-ray concert film available in 3D with Dolby TrueHD 7.1.
Satriani completed his fourteenth studio album, titled Unstoppable Momentum, which was released on May 7th 2013. He is also in the planning stages of releasing a career retrospective box set, which is due for release in the spring of that year.
Satriani is credited on many other albums, including guitar duties on shock-rocker 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. 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 release Birdland. In 2006, he made appearances on 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." Satriani contributed a guitar solo to Jordan Rudess' 2004 solo release Rhythm of Time. He composed much of the soundtrack for the racing video game NASCAR 06: Total Team Control and contributed to Sega Rally Championship, while "Crowd Chant" was featured in NHL 2K10 and Madden NFL 11. He has starred in feature films, including 2006 Christopher Guest film For Your Consideration as the guitarist in the band that played for the late-night show. Other films include Moneyball in which he appears as himself playing Star Spangled Banner.
Style and influence
Satriani is considered to be a technically proficient guitarist, and has been referred to as a guitar virtuoso. Satriani has mastered many performance techniques on electric guitar, including legato, two-handed tapping and arpeggio tapping, volume swells, harmonics and extreme whammy bar effects. During fast passages, Satriani favors a legato technique (achieved primarily through hammer-ons and pull-offs) that yields smooth and flowing runs. He is also adept at other speed-related techniques such as rapid alternate picking and sweep picking. Satriani was influenced by blues-rock guitar icons such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore and Jeff Beck, as well as jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth. Satriani created his own recognizable style and is an influential guitarist. Satriani has received 15 Grammy nominations and has sold over 10 million albums worldwide.
Satriani has endorsed Ibanez's JS Series guitars, and Peavey's JSX amplifier. Both lines were designed specifically as signature products for Satriani. The Ibanez JS1 (the original JS model) was based on, and replaced, the Ibanez 540 Radius model that Satriani first endorsed. 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 2005), 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 with the JS1000, JS1200, JS2400, JSBDG, and JS20th using Ibanez's original Edge double locking tremolo bridge. The JS100 and JS120s both use Ibanez's Edge 3 tremolo bridge. The JS1600 is a fixed bridge guitar with no tremolo system. The guitar he was most associated with during the 90s was a chrome-finished guitar nicknamed "Chrome Boy." This instrument can be seen on the Live in San Francisco DVD. However, the guitar used for most of the concert was in fact a lookalike nicknamed "Pearly," which featured Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates pickups.
Satriani 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), JS6/JS6000 (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 played a red 7-string JS model, seen in the "G3 Live in Tokyo" DVD from 2005. He also has a prototype 24-fret version of the JS—now called the JS-2400—which he has used with Chickenfoot. As of late he has used other prototypes featuring a Sustainer or a JS model with three single coil-sized humbucker pickups.
Satriani's guitars are usually equipped with his signature DiMarzio humbucker pickups, Mo' Joe and PAF Joe, although his 24-fret JS model features a Pro Track single coil-sized, humbucker pickup in the neck position. Some of his guitars are still equipped with the pickup models he favored in the past, the DiMarzio FRED and PAF Pro pickups. Satriani has used a wide variety of guitar amps, using Marshall 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. However he still used distortion pedals with the clean channel rather than the built-in overdrive channels. Satriani has used other amplifiers over the years in the studio, such as 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. He has recently switched to the Marshall JVM series, having used a modified JVM 410H in his Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards tour in 2010 and with Chickenfoot in 2010 and 2011.
These modified JVM Marshall amps were prototypes for a signature amp which was scheduled for release in 2011. The reverb has been replaced by noise gates which cancel any lag when switching channels. The clean channel has been replaced by the clean channel of a 6100 LM model which he likes as an option to use distortion pedals with. The orange od channel and the modern red od channel have been better matched with each other as he still claims to prefer the organic od channels of the JVM amp rather than pedals. The red od channel has been modified to be based more on beefy rock than a nu-metal sound. The fx-loop has been simplified to be serial only.
His effects pedals include the Vox wah, Dunlop Cry Baby wah, RMC Wizard Wah, DigiTech Whammy, BK Butler Tube Driver, 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 partnered 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 used many amps in the studio when recording, including the Peavey Classic. He used Marshall heads and cabinets, including live, prior to his Peavey endorsement. Recently Satriani used the JSX head through a Palmer Speaker Simulator. He has released a Class-A 5-watt tube amp called the "Mini Colossal." Satriani has been using a Marshall JVM410 head in live gigs since 2009. 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," and the "Time Machine," which will be a delay pedal, with more to follow, including a wah pedal called the "Big Bad Wah." On March 3, 2010 a new pedal was announced on Satriani's website regarding the new Vox overdrive pedal called "Ice 9."
A detailed gear diagram of Joe Satriani's 2000 guitar rig is well-documented.
Satriani's work frequently makes references to various science fiction stories and 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. 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". It would have featured sampled sounds from the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek. 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". Its ending theme was inspired by composer Gabriel Fauré's "Pavane in F-sharp minor, Op. 50". The song is used as goal celebration music for a number of National Hockey League teams and Major League Soccer teams including the Minnesota Wild (NHL) and New England Revolution (MLS). The song is also used in the EA Sports hockey video game NHL 10.
"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 [the] universe a lot faster than normal," Satriani said in a podcast about the song. 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 to stumble upon a rock concert.
Awards and nominations
Satriani has the second most Grammy Award nominations (15, after Brian McKnight), of any artist without winning. See further artists.
- Not of This Earth (1986)
- Surfing with the Alien (1987)
- Flying in a Blue Dream (1989)
- The Extremist (1992)
- Time Machine (1993)
- Joe Satriani (1995)
- Crystal Planet (1998)
- Engines of Creation (2000)
- Strange Beautiful Music (2002)
- Is There Love in Space? (2004)
- Super Colossal (2006)
- Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock (2008)
- Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards (2010)
- Unstoppable Momentum (2013)
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Image from Discogs