Did you know that American guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani has been nominated for 15 Grammy awards, but has never actually won? It’s true!
Joe Satriani is credited with bringing instrumental rock music back to the Billboard charts with his 1987 album, “Surfing with the Alien”. Satriani has released 14 albums since his 1986 debut, “Not of This Earth”, and through his mastery of the instrument, inspired countless budding musicians to pick up a guitar.
Satriani’s songwriting is what set him apart from other flashy guitar players, with songs like “Flying in a Blue Dream”, “Cool #9”, and “Lords of Karma”. His instrumental ballads, such as “Always With Me, Always With You”, and “Love Thing” established a foothold among radio listeners for instrumental guitar, and opened the door for later instrumental guitarists like Eric Johnson (and his hit song “Cliffs of Dover”) to become a massive success on the airwaves.
Satriani is also seen by many as a role model, as a rock musician who never gave in to the stereotypical “rock ‘n’ roll excess” so many musicians fall prey to, as well as for being down to earth, clean living, and happily married to his high school sweetheart, Rubina.
Apart from his recording and worldwide touring, Satriani (or “Satch”, as he is commonly known) is a passionate guitar teacher and advocate of music education in schools. Satriani’s strong grounding in music theory began in high school, and for that foundation he credits his high school music teacher.
Some of Satriani’s more famous guitar students include Kirk Hammett of Metallica, David Bryson of Counting Crows, Kevin Cadogan from Third Eye Blind, Larry LaLonde of Primus, Alex Skolnick of Testament, and jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter. One of Satriani’s best known students, Steve Vai (initially known for playing with David Lee Roth), returned the favor by raving about the then-unknown Satriani in interviews, which led to Satriani being signed to a major recording contract.
As a strong supporter of music education, Satriani has refused to “cash in” (as he puts it) and release an instructional video to the retail market, as has been a popular trend among famous guitarists since the 1980’s. Rather, he has done many video lessons and workshops that are freely available online. In interviews, he is known to expound upon topics such as legato playing, scales and modes, memorizing where every note resides on the guitar’s fingerboard, as well as the Pitch Axis Theory, always stressing the importance of having a strong grounding in music theory, as was taught to him in school.
According to Wikipedia, Satriani is “an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organization that provides free musical instruments and instruction to children in under-served 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.”
Want to learn more about music theory? Start with How to Read Music on Discovery Education Streaming!