Three years ago, Joe Satriani released his 17th studio album, "Shapeshifting," and he was ready to hit the road and promote his new music. Sadly, the pandemic put the breaks to that, and Joe wasn't able to tour.

NOW, he's back with his 18th album, "The Elephants of Mars," and will bring BOTH new albums on the road with him to the State Theatre in Kalamazoo. But before he was known as the Guitar God of Today, he started off teaching in Burbank, California, to the likes of Alex Skolnick, Kick Hammett, and Steve Vai (who used to play accordion!)

107.7 WRKR-FM logo
Get our free mobile app

Before he toured for his second album, "Surfing the Alien," Satriani was still living in New York, playing guitar in high school when his initial career in guitar lessons go started.

"I was just a guitar player, growing up on Long Island... Kids started to knock at my door asking for lessons. I had no plans to become a guitar instructor at all... but it was better than a real job."

One of Satriani's most well-known students, Steve Vai, went to the same school as him, and had the same music theory teacher. But Vai wasn't the virtuoso we know today.

"When Steve Vai came to my door, he actually played accordion. He had a pack of strings in one hand, and a stringless guitar in the other. He was a beginner, and so much fun to teach, he was super talented, and learned super fast. And we became buddies for life from that experience growing up."

Joe moved to Burkley, California, across from a guitar store, and quickly picked up teaching again... but not really by choice.

"... I was just looking for bands to play with, but I was hanging out at a guitar store... and the owner was very upset because that never bought anything. So he talked me into teaching as a way that he would at least get some of my money."

For the next ten years, Satriani would play in local bands, but also, while teaching lessons, saw the beginnings of the thrash metal scene in the Bay Area. In addition to Hammet and Skolnick, he also taught players on the other end of the spectrum, David Bryson from Counting Crows, Kevin Catigan from Third eye Blind, and Larry Lelant from Primus.

"Just an amazing amount of talented young kids that were so driven, and had their own ideas... It turned out to be a really great thing."

Joe's last lesson was with Kirk Hammett before embarking on his first major tour.

"The last lesson I gave was to Kirk Hammett, January of '88. He wished me luck on my 'Surfing with the Alien' Tour. We didn't know what was gonna happen."

Obviously, it went well, and Joe has been able to tour and record full-time ever since.

Joe Satriani's "Earth Tour" will be in Kalamazoo at the State Theatre October 14th. You can get your tickets HERE.

A Peek Inside Kalamazoo's Heritage Guitar Factory Where Music History Was Made

Heritage Guitar Factory, which was the Gibson Guitar Factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan

More From 107.7 WRKR-FM