Skip to main content

Steve Vai tore a tendon in his shoulder while making pizza

Steve Vai
(Image credit: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival))

Steve Vai seems to have made a habit of sustaining injuries in rather unusual ways. Back in March, he revealed he had to undergo surgery for trigger finger after holding a guitar chord for too long.

Shortly afterwards, the virtuoso revealed he'd also undergone surgery for a prior shoulder injury, which he now attributes to “50 years of abuse playing the guitar”. Naturally, Vai refused to let the injuries hinder his creative output, and released a song entitled Knappsack – which he plays with one hand – while recovering.

While he says in a new interview with Eddie Trunk (transcribed by Blabbermouth (opens in new tab)) that the shoulder surgery was successful and healed quickly – allowing him to record his new album, Inviolate – another shoulder niggle has resulted in Vai postponing the start of his upcoming US tour.

This time, however, the injury wasn't due to five decades of hard graft putting out some of the most mind-boggling guitar music in the biz, but rather, from operating a pizza oven.

“I did something really stupid over the summer,” Vai confesses. “This is crazy. I have a pizza oven, and I was putting a pizza in the oven and the dough sticks on a little plate, and I had to jerk it really hard to pull it and I tore another [tendon].”

He continues: “I thought I could get through the tour, but [it's] a mega-tour that we're planning, because I've been just dying to get on tour. We've got [around] 250 shows that we wanna do around the world, and it's gonna take [about] a year and a half. Once I started to prepare, it became really obvious that there was just no way. 

“The doctor said, ‘It's only gonna get worse and there's nothing you can do. I highly recommend you get it fixed before you go out on tour for a year and a half or you're gonna be in real trouble.’”

“It's not uncommon these days that artists are kind of moving blocks of dates around,” he concludes. “And we just took the whole tour – the North American portion – and moved it to the fall, almost completely intact. So it gives me an opportunity to heal and get out there and kick some butt.”

Of the injury that postponed a mammoth 54-date tour, Vai admits, “I wish I had a better story.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).