Steve Vai is an American musician. There are some musicians who stick to a single role. However, Vai isn’t one of them, as shown by how he is not just a singer-songwriter but also a guitarist, a composer, and a producer in addition to being a famous rock star. In recent times, people might have heard his announcement of a huge U.S. tour in 2022.
1. Born in Carle Place, NY
Vai was born to John and Theresa Vai in Carle Place, which is a hamlet that can be found on Long Island. Some settlements have very literal names, with Carle Place being an excellent example. After all, it is named thus because a person named Silas Carle purchased a great deal of land in the region before building his home there, thus resulting in it being called Carle Place. Besides this, the hamlet is also sometimes called Frog Hollow on a colloquial basis.
2. Became Interested in Music at a Young Age
As he tells it, Vai became interested in music when he hit a note on a piano for the very first time at the age of five. Supposedly, he had an instinctual realization of the creation of music right there. Soon enough, Vai also saw an older boy playing the guitar when he was at the age of six, which instilled in him the belief that the guitar would be his instrument.
3. Inspired By West Side Story
One of the first things that Vai was inspired by was the soundtrack for the movie adaptation of West Side Story that came out in 1961. His story is a common one. After all, West Side Story is considered to be one of the greatest musicals ever made, so much so that it remains quite influential in the present time even though it has been decades and decades since it was released. Having said that, it is interesting to note that it didn’t remain the highest-grossing musical for very long. West Side Story became so in 1961. Soon enough, it was beaten in this regard by The Sound of Music in 1965.
4. Inspired By Led Zeppelin
At the age of 11, Vai was introduced to the rock music of his era. One of the bands that he listened to was Led Zeppelin, which remains one of the best-selling bands of all time with an estimated 200 million to 300 million sales on a worldwide basis. In particular, Vai was influenced by “Heartbreaker,” which included a guitar solo that was what got him started on playing the guitar.
5. Went to Berklee College of Music
Some musicians go straight to making music. In contrast, others seek out a more formal education. Vai was the latter, as shown by how he went to the Berklee College of Music because of his interest in music composition and theory. In the early 2000s, Vai received a Honorary Doctorate of Music from said institution.
6. Started Out as a Transcriptionist
Vai’s first step on his musical career saw him becoming a transcriptionist for Frank Zappa. He got the job by sending a notated transcription of Zappa’s “The Black Page” as well as a recording of his college band Morning Thunder to said individual, who was quite impressed by his efforts. Eventually, Vai left the Berklee College of Music, auditioned for Zappa’s band, and then got onto it as a full-fledged member. Something that was no mean achievement.
7. Played with David Lee Roth
Over the course of his career, Vai has played with a wide range of well-known artists. To name another example, he played with David Lee Roth, who is best-known for being the lead singer of Van Halen before going on to have a successful solo career. The two formed a band with bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Gregg Bissonette, which went on to release a couple of albums before Vai’s departure. The first one was Eat ‘Em and Smile, a critical success as well as a commercial success. Similarly, the second album Skyscraper sold well as well.
8. Released Passion and Warfare in 1990
Vai has had a successful solo career as well. For instance, he spent 1985 to 1990 recording his second solo album Passion and Warfare, which came out in May of 1990. Said album managed to sell more than 1.5 million copies. Furthermore, it earned Vai a number of awards and accolades. As such, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that Passion and Warfare is considered to be one of the more influential instrumental albums ever released.
9. Interested in Beekeeping
It is interesting to note that Vai is a beekeeper who tends to the beehives on his property on a regular basis. Generally speaking, beekeepers are known for producing honey. However, it should be mentioned that beekeepers can produce a number of other valuable products as well. One example would be beeswax, while another example would be pollen. On top of this, there is royal jelly, which is a secretion fed to bee larvae. The latter is quite rare because beekeepers need to collect it from cells containing future queen bees. Royal jelly is fed to other bee larvae as well, but those cells are the only cells that contain enough of the substance for the harvesting to be practical. In any case, Vai is a vegetarian, but since vegetarians refrain from consuming the products of animal slaughter, his beekeeping doesn’t conflict with his vegetarianism.
10. Married to Pia Maiocco
Vai met his future wife Pia Maiocco when he was still at Berklee College of Music. In fact, that is where he met her. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Maiocco is also a musician, seeing as how she was once the bassist for the rock band Vixen. She was around from 1984 to 1986, which was a short while before the band’s time of greatest success. However, she and the rest of the band nonetheless showed up on the movie Hardbodies as an on-screen band called Diaper Rash. Regardless, she and Vai have two children named Julian and Fire.