How Nita Strauss ended up playing Jason Becker’s prototype Peavey 'Numbers' guitar live

Nita Strauss and Benny Goodman
(Image credit: Judy Won / The Neurotic Guitarist/YouTube)

Last week, Nita Strauss took to the stage with Alice Cooper for a gig at the Leader Bank Pavilion in Boston Massachusetts, and played the show’s encore using one very special electric guitar – Jason Becker’s original prototype Peavey ‘Numbers’ model.

The axe – which was used by Becker to record River of Longing and Ending of the Beginning, and played by Eddie Van Halen during a visit to Becker’s house in 1996 – was put through its paces for a rendition of Cooper’s mammoth hit School’s Out, and played host to Strauss’s searing solo.

Now the dust has settled and we’ve all had the opportunity to watch and marvel at the 'Numbers' guitar in Strauss’s virtuosic hands, we can’t help but wonder one thing: just how did the iconic axe end up in Nita’s possession?

Well, thanks to a video from YouTuber The Neurotic Guitarist, that question has now been definitively answered.

As it turns out, Benny Goodman, the name behind The Neurotic Guitarist, revealed the channel had in fact purchased the ‘Numbers’ Peavey prototype at auction and, in a bid to honor Becker’s wish for his guitars to be played by others, lent Strauss the six-string for her Alice Cooper show.

The move coincided with a newly formed hashtag – #ALSAWARENESS4JASON – which Goodman hopes will raise awareness around Becker’s story, and put the spotlight on ALS – the condition Becker has been living with for the past 30 years.

“I promised Jason. I didn’t want this to go to some guitar vault where no one saw it again. Jason wants this guitar to be played. We want to share the love,” Goodman said.

“What I wanted to do was really get this guitar in people’s hands,” he continued. “First and foremost we can raise awareness about ALS, about the story of Jason. The more we talk about Jason and the more we talk about ALS awareness, the more we can do as a community to come together to help people like Jason.

“To raise money, to raise awareness, and to do it through rock ‘n’ roll and through love.”

“So, when I found out Alice Cooper was coming to town, I knew Nita Strauss is one of the biggest Jason Becker fans, and why wouldn’t she be? He’s one of the greatest, and Nita? She’s setting the bar.

“The Alice Cooper band is amazing and if you go and see Alice Cooper it's like a right of passage culturally, musically speaking. What would be cooler than having 'The Hurricane' Nita Strauss playing Jason Becker’s prototype 'Numbers' guitar?

“We’re going to send this video to Jason Becker and I promise you, raising money is one thing – but quality of life and making people happy is a completely other thing. I know that, if I was Jason, I can tell you that he appreciates our love and prayers, and watching 'The Hurricane' Nita Strauss play School's Out on his guitar.

“That’s what we want to do with The Neurotic Guitarist. We want to put this guitar in amazing players’ hands, but also to help raise awareness for ALS and to make our hero Jason just a little happier.”

In a social media post published after the concert, Strauss wrote, “I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. "Jason told Josh [presumably Josh Villalta, Strauss's boyfriend] and I years ago that he wanted his guitars to continue being played.

"At the time I was struck by how unselfish that thought was – there was no sense of bitterness, just that same joy and love of guitar that we all associate with Jason and his playing.”

Responding to Strauss playing his six-string – and to Goodman's new awareness campaign – a tweet posted to Becker's account on his behalf read, " I saw the Nita Strauss video that Benny Goodman made. Man, I am so touched. I love Nita Strauss so much! Ben, you are so sweet."

"We're incredibly touched to see one of Jason’s dreams coming true – seeing his guitars continuing to be played by phenomenal guitarists," a follow-up tweet continued. "We love you, Nita Strauss & Alice Cooper. Thank you!"

See more

By the sounds of it, we're going to be seeing Becker’s 'Numbers' guitar crop up in the hands of different guitar heroes in the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled to The Neurotic Guitarist for a glimpse of who gets it next.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.