Steven Siro "Steve" Vai (born June 6, 1960) is a three time Grammy Award-winning American virtuoso rock guitarist, composer and producer who has sold over 15 million albums. After starting his professional career as a music transcriptionist for Frank Zappa, Vai recorded and toured in Zappa's band for two years, from 1980 to 1982. The guitarist began a solo career in 1983 and has released 8 of his own solo albums since. Apart from his work with Frank Zappa, Vai has also recorded and toured with Public Image Ltd., Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth, and Whitesnake. Vai has been a regular touring member of the G3 Concert Tour which began in 1996. In 1999 Vai started his own record label, Favored Nations, intending to showcase, as Vai describes, "...artists that have attained the highest performance level on their chosen instruments."
Vai began playing guitar in 1973, at the age of 13. In 1974, he took guitar lessons from guitarist Joe Satriani, and played in numerous local bands, one of which was called "The Steve Vais." He acknowledged the influence of many guitarists including Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Brian May, Jimmy Page, Glen Buxton, and jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth. Vai followed those lessons by attending the Berklee College of Music, afterwards recording a promotional piece for them in which he spoke about auditioning for Frank Zappa at age twenty.
Vai continues to tour regularly, with his own group and with his one-time teacher and fellow guitar instrumentalist friend Joe Satriani on the G3 series of tours. Former David Lee Roth and Mr. Big bassist Billy Sheehan also joined him for a world tour. In 1990, Vai released his critically acclaimed solo album Passion and Warfare.
The song "For the Love of God" was voted #29 in a readers' poll of the 100 greatest guitar solos of all time in Guitar World Magazine.
In 1994 Vai began writing and recording with Ozzy Osbourne. Only one track from these sessions, "My Little Man", was released on the Ozzmosis album. Despite Vai penning the track he does not appear on the album. His guitar parts were replaced by Zakk Wylde. Another track, "Dyin' Day", appeared as an instrumental on Vai's Fire Garden album. Vai's band members in the 90's included drummer Mike Mangini, guitarist Mike Keneally, and bassist Philip Bynoe. In 1994 Vai received a Grammy Award for his performance on the Frank Zappa song Sofa from the album Zappa's Universe.
Vai's playing style has been characterized as quirky and angular, due in large measure to his technical ability with the guitar instrument and deep knowledge of music theory. He regularly uses odd rhythmic groupings and his melodies often employ the Lydian mode. Perhaps his most readily-identifiable stylistic feature is his creative use of the floating vibrato, using it to add melodic lines that sound odd to the ear. His playing can also be described as lyrical, as if sung by a human voice. During the recording of "Eat 'em and Smile," with David Lee Roth, he employed several guitar techniques that "mimicked" the human voice, as heard in the opening bars of the opening track "Yankee Rose." He often uses exotic guitars: he plays both double and triple neck guitars (including a custom-made heart-shaped triple-neck model built by luthier Joe Despagni). Vai is regarded as the first to use the 7-string guitar in a rock context. Along with Ibanez, he designed a signature 7-string guitar, the Ibanez Universe, in 1989. He is also noted for being physically expressive as he plays his guitar. -Wikipedia