John Frusciante’s guitar teacher once told him he wasn’t a good guitarist – so he learned to play like Steve Vai: “No-one was going to say that to me again”

John Frusciante and Steve Vai perform live
(Image credit: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect / Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

John Frusciante is widely hailed as one of the finest players of his generation, but his path to guitar greatness was far from straightforward.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers stalwart has been candid about his desire to impress early on in his career – best encapsulated in recently unearthed footage of him shredding like a hair-metal guitar hero at the age of 17  – before settling into a more comfortable, band-positive role for RHCP’s 1991 masterpiece, Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.