Justus West on forging a successful career playing guitar with a producer’s perspective – and how it all started with a venomous spider bite

Justus West
(Image credit: Press)

To our knowledge, Justus West isn't Spider-Man. But, like Marvel's Peter Parker and Miles Morales, a chance arachnid encounter in West’s teens changed the course of his life. A guitarist who’s made his biggest mark in hip-hop, R&B, and neo-soul, West’s big break came after an unlikely pairing with country legend Vince Gill.

As he explains, “The year prior, I had been bitten by a brown recluse spider and had a very rare reaction to the venom. I had been in the ICU for over a month and from all the different medications, I couldn’t really walk anymore. After four or five months, I was able to start playing again.”

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Jenna Scaramanga

Jenna writes for Total Guitar and Guitar World, and is the former classic rock columnist for Guitar Techniques. She studied with Guthrie Govan at BIMM, and has taught guitar for 15 years. She's toured in 10 countries and played on a Top 10 album (in Sweden).