Steve Vai on his time in Whitesnake: "There was real aggression and control in my playing. I just remember thinking it was never good enough back then!"

Steve Vai
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Steve Vai will be the first to tell you how uncanny his charmed life in rock ‘n’ roll has been. While his work as a game-changing guitar expressionist (and his hallowed discography of instrumental albums) might take priority in the minds of guitar fans, Vai’s odyssey through the ranks of rock music is the stuff of legend. 

As a gifted teen, Vai travelled from bedroom woodshed to the bootcamp of Frank Zappa’s band, after which he took the reins from famously furious neo-classical shredder Yngwie Malmsteen in Alacatrazz. Vai left the Alcatrazz gig to join David Lee Roth in spearheading the singer’s wildly successful post-Van Halen solo group, a gig he left in 1989 only to have yet another coveted lead guitar role “fall in his lap” (as he tells it), this time with one of the biggest bands of the '80s: Whitesnake.

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