Pondering the paradox of the rock virtuoso with guitar legend Steve Vai
Funny thing about rock guitarists: the more skill they have, the less seriously some people take them. While violinists, drummers and pianists are applauded for their technical proficiency, virtuosos of the electric guitar are often seen as the musical equivalent of overly musclebound bodybuilders.
As one of the fastest, flashiest axe-slingers alive, Steve Vai has learned to take the flak with the flattery. “What one individual sees as moving and inspiring in one performer, another may see as a form of total wankery,” offers Vai, who was aptly billed as a “stunt guitarist” during his days as a member of Frank Zappa’s band. “I’ve been the subject of it all, from ‘America’s best-kept secret musical genius’ to ‘His parents should have been neutered.’ After a while you just stop paying attention, and while critics are trying to figure it out, you just keep creating.”