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    Steve Vai Was Left Sick and Scared After First Frank Zappa Tour
    Martin Kielty

    Published: May 13, 2024



    Steve Vai remembered being left feeling sick and scared after his first tour with Frank Zappa.

    And after completing three gruelling road trips with the notoriously demanding bandleader, the young guitarist thought he’d had enough – until his experience with David Lee Roth’s solo band changed his mind.

    Vai played with Zappa from 1980 to 1983, then joined Alcatrazz for a year before joining Roth for 1986 album Eat ’Em and Smile. “I started touring when I was 20 with Zappa,” he said in a recent episode of Paltrocast (video below). “And those tours were pretty brutal.


    “Because we flew every day – there was no tour bus. So you're waking up at 9, you go right from the airport to the gig, and Frank would do soundchecks as soon as you got there until the doors were open.”

    Those soundchecks weren’t straightforward either. “That's anywhere between two and four hours of Frank writing, teaching you, recording – we recorded everything he recorded,” Vai continued.

    “Plus, we had a repertoire of 80 songs, 60 percent of which were completely death-defying on the guitar… They should never be played on the guitar! And then you get a 45-minute break and then you go out and do a show. And then you take a 45-minute break and usually do a second show.

    “Frank would write the setlist literally five minutes before we went on stage. And in all the three years of touring I did with him, the set was never the same twice.”

    The day wasn’t finished yet: “You’re not going out sightseeing or anything. You don’t see anything, except what you see on the ride from the airport. And I’d have to go home and practice because I didn’t know what songs he was going to call for the next night, [but] I had to make sure that I had them.”

    Steve Vai Struggled to Eat and Sleep on Tour with Frank Zappa

    Vai reflected: “After those tours I just thought, ‘I’m done; I don’t like touring. I’m not doing that.’ I turned yellow and got jaundice on my first tour! I didn't know how to eat or sleep. I was just completely disheartened by touring. It was frightening to me.”

    As might be imagined, things were very different on the road with Roth. “Now you got a tour bus, there’s no soundchecks, there’s one show, and you just go crazy playing simple rock ’n’ roll,” the guitarist said. “And that’s when I really started to appreciate touring.”

    That kind of life on the road offered him many more rewards. “I’d always bring a bicycle with me, or I’d go jogging,” he said. “And I just loved touring. I loved seeing the world – I still do. And every day, I would go out… take in the city and take in the people and the culture and the food and everything.”



    https://ultimateclassicrock.com/stev...Recm16A_vsM-MX
     "He has a swaggering retro machismo that will give hives to the Steinem cabal" -Camille Paglia on Donald Trump

    "But, fucking with Brook is like fucking with hot shit on and ax handle. You just don't get a grip"-track5

    "Make way for the bad guy"- Tony Montana

    'This hamburger don't need no helper"- David Lee Roth

    "I wish Bon Jovi would've given me a call before he recorded all of his hits, because the lyrics would've been smarter, the melodies would've been much more smashing, and they would've sold a lot fewer records." -David Lee Roth

    "My beef is people thinking Bon Jovi is good cuz they sold lots of records to housewives." -tango

    "But being number one doesn’t really mean jack fuck all. We sold twice as many records as other records that year (1984) that landed in the Number One position." ~Eddie Van Halen

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    I guarantee there were soundchecks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarnalKnowledge View Post
    I guarantee there were soundchecks.
    Also, while we know Zappa was in his own world playing to his own reality, was playing Eddie VH music (excluding the Roth tunes he helped create) really “simple” rock and roll? Not a player, and maybe copying EVH material is not as hard as someone like me thinks? IDK

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    Quote Originally Posted by Destructo3 View Post
    Also, while we know Zappa was in his own world playing to his own reality, was playing Eddie VH music (excluding the Roth tunes he helped create) really “simple” rock and roll? Not a player, and maybe copying EVH material is not as hard as someone like me thinks? IDK
    We're talking Steve Vai here, not C.C. Deville. He's a monster and look at his description of playing with Zappa. That's some grueling demands of a musician. It's like forever bootcamp for musicians.

    Compared to Zappa's music Van Halen (and Vai's own compositions with Roth) was simple rock music. He wasn't putting it down by any means.
     "He has a swaggering retro machismo that will give hives to the Steinem cabal" -Camille Paglia on Donald Trump

    "But, fucking with Brook is like fucking with hot shit on and ax handle. You just don't get a grip"-track5

    "Make way for the bad guy"- Tony Montana

    'This hamburger don't need no helper"- David Lee Roth

    "I wish Bon Jovi would've given me a call before he recorded all of his hits, because the lyrics would've been smarter, the melodies would've been much more smashing, and they would've sold a lot fewer records." -David Lee Roth

    "My beef is people thinking Bon Jovi is good cuz they sold lots of records to housewives." -tango

    "But being number one doesn’t really mean jack fuck all. We sold twice as many records as other records that year (1984) that landed in the Number One position." ~Eddie Van Halen

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    That sounds horrible.
    "It's so lonely at the top because it's so crowded at the bottom" - Diamond David Lee Roth

    "The truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth" - Todd Wagner

    "Women and Children First ... The REAL Van Halen III"

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    Quote Originally Posted by bklynboy68 View Post
    Steve Vai Was Left Sick and Scared After First Frank Zappa Tour
    Martin Kielty

    Published: May 13, 2024



    Steve Vai remembered being left feeling sick and scared after his first tour with Frank Zappa.

    ...
    ...
    ...



    “Plus, we had a repertoire of 80 songs, 60 percent of which were completely death-defying on the guitar… They should never be played on the guitar! And then you get a 45-minute break and then you go out and do a show. And then you take a 45-minute break and usually do a second show.

    “Frank would write the setlist literally five minutes before we went on stage. And in all the three years of touring I did with him, the set was never the same twice.”

    ...
    ...




    ...
    Man, that was brutal!!

    These guys were monsters back then.
    TT: "Wow, you can play acoustic guitar?"
    EVH: "Sure. What's the difference? It's got six strings... It's a guitar!" - 31.12.1978
    ___________________________________

    "Van Halen is entertainment. Van Halen is entertainment delivered at maximum impact, but it's entertainment." DLR

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Ribeiro View Post
    Man, that was brutal!!

    These guys were monsters back then.
    When I was kid, all the older guys that played used to talk about Zappa’s bands and how you had to be on your game to play with Zappa. I’ve met some seriously accomplished players who would say they would have to really practice to even audition. It was insanity but the word was if you played with Zappa, you were the shit.
     "He has a swaggering retro machismo that will give hives to the Steinem cabal" -Camille Paglia on Donald Trump

    "But, fucking with Brook is like fucking with hot shit on and ax handle. You just don't get a grip"-track5

    "Make way for the bad guy"- Tony Montana

    'This hamburger don't need no helper"- David Lee Roth

    "I wish Bon Jovi would've given me a call before he recorded all of his hits, because the lyrics would've been smarter, the melodies would've been much more smashing, and they would've sold a lot fewer records." -David Lee Roth

    "My beef is people thinking Bon Jovi is good cuz they sold lots of records to housewives." -tango

    "But being number one doesn’t really mean jack fuck all. We sold twice as many records as other records that year (1984) that landed in the Number One position." ~Eddie Van Halen

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    Quote Originally Posted by bklynboy68 View Post
    When I was kid, all the older guys that played used to talk about Zappa’s bands and how you had to be on your game to play with Zappa. I’ve met some seriously accomplished players who would say they would have to really practice to even audition. It was insanity but the word was if you played with Zappa, you were the shit.
    I think. he meant that once he learned HFT and On Fire, he was good to go until the end of the tour. There was a fixed set list. It's no different than the guitar players in the many VH tribute bands.
    Little Dreamer

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    Quote Originally Posted by bklynboy68 View Post
    When I was kid, all the older guys that played used to talk about Zappa’s bands and how you had to be on your game to play with Zappa. I’ve met some seriously accomplished players who would say they would have to really practice to even audition. It was insanity but the word was if you played with Zappa, you were the shit.
    That's for sure, man!!

    I found this short video of Terry talking about Zappa.

    TT: "Wow, you can play acoustic guitar?"
    EVH: "Sure. What's the difference? It's got six strings... It's a guitar!" - 31.12.1978
    ___________________________________

    "Van Halen is entertainment. Van Halen is entertainment delivered at maximum impact, but it's entertainment." DLR

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    This doesn't surprise me. He was also very young.

    The posters who think he's putting down Van Halen (or Roth) music by talking about it as "simple rock and roll"...it wasn't an insult.

    Eddie is a phenomenal player. Playing his parts: you need to be a monster on the instrument to do them really well.

    But Zappa's music was incredibly-complicated and difficult to play. Chester Thompson played with maybe Zappa's best band (check out Zappa's ROXY AND ELSEWHERE live album). You would think that Genesis' music (especially the proggier stuff) would be hard to play. But for Chester, joining Genesis after playing with Zappa for a period was much easier.

    Interestingly, Zappa never looked down his nose at Van Halen's music. He approved of his son Dweezil being a huge fan (and thought it was cool that Eddie agreed to produce a single for Dweezil in Zappa's studio...which gave Eddie the idea to build his own home studio). Frank liked Van Halen...not necessarily a HUGE fan, but he appreciated the band and liked Eddie's playing.

    Zappa was awesome. OVER-NITE SENSATION is one of my favorite albums.
    "I had a girl beating on my hotel door all night...She was screaming, crying. Finally, I said, 'What the hell'...and I let her out!"- DLR

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    I would have loved it if Eddie had guested on a Frank Zappa record. Frank was an amazing guitar player himself, so he didn't need Eddie. But wow...it sure would have been cool to have Eddie guest on one of his records.
    "I had a girl beating on my hotel door all night...She was screaming, crying. Finally, I said, 'What the hell'...and I let her out!"- DLR

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rikk View Post
    I would have loved it if Eddie had guested on a Frank Zappa record. Frank was an amazing guitar player himself, so he didn't need Eddie. But wow...it sure would have been cool to have Eddie guest on one of his records.
    I think it would have had the same effect on Ed that jamming with Holdsworth did. That’s the Ed we missed after “1984”.
     "He has a swaggering retro machismo that will give hives to the Steinem cabal" -Camille Paglia on Donald Trump

    "But, fucking with Brook is like fucking with hot shit on and ax handle. You just don't get a grip"-track5

    "Make way for the bad guy"- Tony Montana

    'This hamburger don't need no helper"- David Lee Roth

    "I wish Bon Jovi would've given me a call before he recorded all of his hits, because the lyrics would've been smarter, the melodies would've been much more smashing, and they would've sold a lot fewer records." -David Lee Roth

    "My beef is people thinking Bon Jovi is good cuz they sold lots of records to housewives." -tango

    "But being number one doesn’t really mean jack fuck all. We sold twice as many records as other records that year (1984) that landed in the Number One position." ~Eddie Van Halen

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    I never understood Zappa's music. My older brother went to Berklee with Vai so he was a music nerd. Anything beyond Duran Duran and VH for me back then made no sense. I'd put a Zappa cassette in and think "this sucks".

    That said, he kicked ass on Miami Vice:


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    Quote Originally Posted by EJC View Post
    I never understood Zappa's music. My older brother went to Berklee with Vai so he was a music nerd. Anything beyond Duran Duran and VH for me back then made no sense. I'd put a Zappa cassette in and think "this sucks".

    That said, he kicked ass on Miami Vice:

    ...
    Not even some of his most regular stuff?





    TT: "Wow, you can play acoustic guitar?"
    EVH: "Sure. What's the difference? It's got six strings... It's a guitar!" - 31.12.1978
    ___________________________________

    "Van Halen is entertainment. Van Halen is entertainment delivered at maximum impact, but it's entertainment." DLR

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    Frank Zappa seemed like a smart and interesting guy that I'd want to talk to. I like his interviews, but I was never into his music.
    Leave everything to me!-Powdered Toast Man

 

 

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