Joe “Satch” Satriani (born on July 15, 1956, in Westbury, New York, USA) is an American guitarist and former guitar instructor. His self-released debut album, Not of This Earth, in 1986 opened the way to a world of instrumental rock music in a pop-dominated world at that time. Influenced heavily by Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani often incorporates a warm sound of guitar with a dominant blues and rock tone.
In 1988, Joe Satriani was recruited by Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger as lead guitarist for Jagger’s first solo tour. Satriani was also asked to be a lead guitarist for Deep Purple in 1994, which he ultimately turned down. Satriani has also worked with a wide range of guitarists from many styles, including Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, and Robert Fripp through the annual G3 Jam Concerts.
Joe Satriani was inspired to play guitar at age fourteen after learning of the death of Jimi Hendrix. Satriani reportedly heard the news during a football training session where he immediately confronted his coach and announced that he was quitting the sport in order to become a guitarist.
In 1974, he studied music with jazz guitarist Billy Bauer and with reclusive jazz pianist Lennie Tristano. The technically demanding Tristano greatly influenced Satriani’s playing. Satch also began teaching guitar, with his most notable student, at this time, being fellow Long Island native Steve Vai.
In 1978 Satriani moved to Berkeley, California to pursue a music career. Not long after his arrival he resumed teaching. His most notable California students included: Kirk Hammett (Metallica), David Bryson (Counting Crows), Kevin Cadogan (Third Eye Blind), Larry LaLonde (Primus), Alex Skolnick (Testament), Phil Kettner (Laaz Rockit),Charlie Hunter, and Steve Vai.
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. In 1987, Satriani’s second album, Surfing With the Alien, produced popular radio hits, and was the first all-instrumental release to chart so highly in many years. Satriani also toured Australia and New Zealand with Mick Jagger in support of the Rolling Stones singer’s solo album.
In 1989, Satriani released Flying in a Blue Dream, which sold well, particularly in Texas, due to heavy promotion by KLBJ-FM in Austin. “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. “Big Bad Moon”, one of Satch’s few singles with personally sung vocals, was a minor hit in late 1989.
In 1992, Satriani released The Extremist, his most critically acclaimed and commercially successful album to date, now considered a rock classic. Radio stations across the country were quick to pick up on “Summer Song”, while “Cryin’”, “Friends” and the title track were regional hits.
In late 1993 Satriani joined Deep Purple as a short-term replacement for departed guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during the band’s Japanese tour. The concerts were such a success that Satriani was asked to join the band, but he declined.
In 1996, he formed G3, a concert tour featuring three instrumental rock guitarists - originally Satriani, Vai, and Eric Johnson. The G3 tour has continued periodically since its inaugural version, where Satriani and Vai are returning members, featured with a floating third member, including Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robert Fripp, Patrick Rondat, Paul Gilbert and more.
In 1998 Satriani recorded and released Crystal Planet and in 2001 released Live in San Francisco, a two-disc live album and DVD recorded December 2000 at the Fillmore in San Francisco, California.
In 2006 Satriani recorded and released Super Colossal and released Satriani Live!, another two-disc live album and DVD recorded in May 2006 at the Grove in Anaheim, California.
Satriani is also credited on many other albums, including guitar duties on Alice Cooper’s Hey Stoopid (1991), Spinal Tap’s Break Like the Wind (1992), Blue Oyster Cult’s Imaginos (1988), band members Stu Hamm and Gregg Bissonette’s solo albums, and countless guitar heroes-style albums. Interestingly, he was credited for singing background vocals on the 1986 debut album by Crowded House. In 2003, he played lead guitar in The Yardbirds’ CD release, Birdland. In 2006 he was featured on several tracks for Deep Purple’s vocalist Ian Gillan’s solo CD/DVD dual disc, Gillan’s Inn.
Satriani is widely recognized as a technically proficient rock guitarist. He has mastered many performance techniques on the instrument, including two-handed tapping, sweep-picking, volume swells, harmonics, and extreme whammy bar effects. One of his trademark compositional traits is the use of Pitch Axis Theory, which he applies with a variety of modes. Satriani approaches scales and soloing differently. Instead of practicing his scales in positions he practices his scales one string at a time. He calls this technique ‘linear scales’. Satriani falls into the category of guitar virtuosos who primarily achieve speed through hammer-ons and pull-offs (like Allan Holdsworth), as opposed to guitarists who include lines with very rapid alternate picking of every note in their playing (like Al Di Meola, Yngwie Malmsteen,or Michael Angelo Batio).
Fans of instrumental electric guitar music widely laud him as the most lyrical and soulful of contemporary rock guitarists, with an eye and an ear for a good tune and, more recently, an emphasis on emotion over technique. Since 1998 his albums have been, stylistically speaking, a departure from his earlier style, delving into simpler, more widely accessible genres.
Satriani s fourteenth studio album, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards (2010), was produced and recorded by Mike Fraser (AC/DC, Metallica) and Satriani. Joe is joined once again by veteran Satriani bandmate Jeff Campitelli on drums, and newcomers, keyboardist Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa, Steve Vai) and bassist Allen Whitman (Mermen) also adding to the sound. Satriani’s classic sound is accompanied by a surprisingly rich texture of new material as well. This eleven-track album’s first single “Light Years Away” is destined to be a hit, with several other high energy offerings, like Wormhole Wizards and Premonition.