Steve Vai Shares the 10 Records That Changed His Life

Steve Vai’s music is so diverse and eclectic, it sometimes makes you wonder just who he listened to when he was growing up.

Answer: A lot of stuff that would shock the hair off your head.

The guitar virtuoso sat down with Classic Rock recently to share some of the records that have been part of his ongoing musical awakening.

“Discovering a band or a record that you love is just delicious,” Vai tells Classic Rock. “It’s really one of life’s great gifts, because you don't just enjoy the music—you become part of it.”

Vai notes that his 10 record picks could change from week to week. “There are so many records that had an impact on me for so many different reasons,” he says.

For this week, here are some of the surprising albums that came to his mind.

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack—West Side Story (1961)
“This is the record that set me off. It completely captivated me and engulfed me. Everything that I love about music is captured here: Historical melody and songs, great lyrics, and energy that never stops.”

The Partridge Family—The Partridge Family Album (1970)
“I was maybe 10 or 11 years old, and at that time there were no videos or anything. If you liked rock music, there weren’t that many chances of seeing bands on TV. But suddenly, there was The Partridge Family show, and here was this sort-of rock band on TV each week.”

Led Zeppelin—Led Zeppelin II (1969)
“From the moment Jimmy Page’s solo on ‘Heartbreaker’ came on, that was it for me. Page’s guitar playing and Robert Plant’s singing totally floored me.”

Read Steve’s full comments and see the entire list at

Vai participated in the all-star benefit for Tony MacAlpine this past December 12. The video below shows him performing “Shy Boy” with Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy.

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