I love Paul Gilbert

Paul (as well as Bruce Bouillet), Jason Becker, George Lynch, Mark McGee and EVH had the biggest impact on me in my formative years.

paul and bruce

One of thee most terrifying guitar duos in Metal. And I saw that shit LIVE!!  I’d like to have a 7 string in that shape as well. RAD!! Ibanez!! Get fuckin’ crackin’!!

It’s 1986. A friend of mine, John Marks from Silver Creek High School had Street Lethal on album. He handed said album to me and goes, “Remember, this kid is only 19..” I’m like, “Just gimme!!” And I grabbed it straight out of his hands. I was at my drummer’s house at the time, and we slapped Racer X on the turntable and cranked the volume. I didn’t love it immediately, I thought that guitar tone was the weirdest fuckin’ thing I have ever heard, and not in a good way. The Marshall amp used was hot rodded by this company called Metaltronix. A friend of mine Brian Sutherland had a Metaltronix head, and that shit was MAD ASS!! So I’ll blame this aural error I’m now hearing on the engineer at Prairie Sound, whoever that was.

I also heard a pretty big Yngwie influence on there as well, which isn’t a bad thing, but why do Yngwie if there’s already a fucking Yngwie, right? I think I was a tad jealous in the beginning, so I was looking for ANY excuse. I was 17, Paul was 19. It happens.

This album was pre Bruce Bouillet, but that didn’t matter, I really liked a lot of the songs on here. Favorites include Blowing Up the Radio, Loud and Clear, Getaway, Into the Night, Street Lethal. Check it out.

Why do I love Paul? Many many reasons. Second Heat, the album after Street Lethal, was one of them. I seriously thought Shred Pop was going to be The Next Big Thing. Then Nirvana came out and fucked up that dream hard. I’m still annoyed about that, but I love Alice in Chains, so I guess it all worked out. But seriously? Fuck Grunge. Back to Paul.

Another reason why I owe so much to this man is because he took my guitar playing to the next level with his Intense Rock 1 video. There’s STILL shit on there I can’t do, and this was ’87!!!

Master this whole video, then move on to other shit. See you in 25 years.

So, he completely got my picking up to scratch. Remember, I was into Lynch (probably more than VH at this stage), and Gilbert had all the shred rock techniques covered. It didn’t hurt that his hand was huge as fuck, but take advantage of whatever you can. At this stage he was in his most Metal form, he had the Lynch vibrato as well.

A year later, we piled everyone into my ’66 Chrysler New Yorker (that I bought for $50), and we headed to the Stone in San Francisco to see Racer X and another crazy Shrapnel band I had never heard of, Vicious Rumors. Racer X were on fire that night. I was able to see Paul’s hands close up, and I understood what was going on, even though I couldn’t do it. Fuck they were bad ass. My friend John was there, and he took GREAT pics. I still have a few somewhere. I had seen Racer X a few times, even once without Paul and just Bruce.

I was fucking THERE, man!!! And yes, I am aware that’s it The Omni in Oakland, but I went to that gig as well.

I had also seen one of the first incarnations of Mr Big. It was Paul, Eric, and a few dudes from Tesla. Good show, Paul still had fire, but I was getting pretty sick of the blues element in rock. I can probably handle it more-so in Pantera, but I don’t want my favorite shredders playing blues.

And that’s where he lost me. Mr Big, blues, weird, thin lead tone, etc. If it was a perfect world, Racer X would have gotten heavier, may have busted out the ole’ 7 strings, and fucked everyone’s ears and asses right into the ground. I still love Paul Gilbert.  I owe him!! That first video did wonders for me. Paul, If you ever read this, I love you. You are thee shit. I totally ripped off your right hand picking technique. Yeah, not a huge fan of your blues shit, but that’s life. You have made me a better player. I got to witness Racer X in a club environment. I’ve met you at NAMM and you were way nice. I even think we did the hand size comparison, ha ha. His hands are fuckin’ HUGE.

Paul Gilbert was part of this!!

I love Icon

This story takes place in 1984. I was a teenager then. These blogs are basically a thank you letter to all the bands / guitarists who shaped me into the bitter mean old cocksucker I am today. Kidding, you fools, I is lovely!!


Let’s see, I believe it was a Sunday night, and I had school the next day. There was a metal show on KSJO or KOME, I don’t remember which. These FM stations were thee big rock stations in San Jose California at the time. And they were just as good as each other. You just had to decide what DJ’s you liked. KOME MAY have been a bit more risque at the time.

So I’m listening to this metal show, and they play a blurb of a band called Icon, the solo section to On Your Feet.

 Which, of course, they’d be featuring on next week’s show. I listened the week after, like the rabid metal dog that I was, and was very impressed by what I heard. And the week following I bought that first album. And turned my friend Dave Hull onto it. He got more into them than I did, and bought the other albums.

My criteria with anything metal is, gotta have a rad guitarist. I admit, I’m shallow and I don’t give a fuck. Rhythms gotta be sweet, but the lead player has got to BURN. It helps immensely if they have that wide, George Lynch style vibrato. If they don’t, I’ll overlook it..(Songs over solos, at the end of the day). I like Dan Wexler and John Aquilano for sure. Their call and response solos in the clean intro on Out For Blood is RAD!! Rad I tells ya!

Second criteria, bad ass singer. Stephen Clifford had gruff AND range. He could hit a high E note easily. His voice is very signature. I would have killed to see them live. I was also 14 at the time, so that wasn’t gonna happen. My family was far from cool in that aspect. I think I would have prospered more with hippie parents (tear falls, cue emotional piano theme).

Here’s what I know; they’re from Arizona. They made a few more albums, I think  Night of the Crime was probably TOO cock rock for me, but I still had a listen when I was at Dave’s house. And as soon as Stephen Clifford left, I wrote them off. I heard the new singer and wasn’t interested.

UPDATE: I listened to night of the crime on YouTube and lost my shit! Bought album on iTunes. Yes, it’s that good. Great rock radio tunes. 

Want more Icon general info? Go HERE

In depth Dan Wexler interview HERE


My fave tracks aside from On Your Feet were World War, Under my Gun, ah look, they’re all pretty cool, even the ballad. But yes, I fucking LOVE this album.

Get both albums from iTunes now:

Self titled HERE

Night of the Crime HERE



I love Ace Frehley

Ace Frehley got me into lead guitar. It didn’t hurt that he looked bad ass!! (yes, I know you don’t hear with your eyes, but I was TEN!!)

I believe I bought Double Platinum and Love Gun on the same day. I’m a bit bummed that I showed up to the party late, but at least I got there.


ace 4

The first time I heard two handed tapping on guitar wasn’t Eruption, oh no. It was Ace’s solo on Alive II. In the 70’s KISS were absolutely at their zenith in terms of everything. Yeah, Gene may have fucked up the brand by putting their name on every single thing under the sun, but what can you do? I owned about roughly 15 of their albums, bought the KISS dolls (well, mom did as a XMas gift back in the day), and one year I was Peter Criss for Halloween. Yeah, Peter. But that was my drum phase. As a ten year old, I didn’t know they were average players. I was more into enjoying music and not worrying about what technical level these dudes were at as players. I even taped Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park on audio tape!! We didn’t even have a fucking VCR in ’78!!

My favorite albums would be Hotter Than Hell, Dressed to Kill, Destroyer, and Rock and Roll Over. That artwork is straight up bad ass. I think I was totally done after Animalize. I do, however like The Oath off of Music from The Elder. What a putrid time for them.

Obviously I love the Ace solo album, just like most people with ears. I’m glad Ace cranked that out, as I see Gene being a bit of a dick. Gene’s solo album was pretty shit, if you ask me. My wife screams whenever she hears When You Wish Upon a Star. I laugh my ass off. I will say, as much of a douche as Gene is, I do like his bass playing. I think he writes good bass lines that are pretty musical, so hats off to him there.


Favorite era costume? Probably Destroyer or Love Gun. Although with Love Gun, it’s like he had a touring suit and a photo op suit. I like the real silver suit. I’d like to know the story behind that. So yeah, most likely getting Ace Frehley solo album portrait as a tattoo at the end of  ’14. I was gonna get Zappa, but I know a mad ass tattooist that will knock it out in no time. And he loves KISS, so why not? I’ll most likely YouTube the experience as well. If it wasn’t on video, it didn’t happen, right?


I love Gary Moore


The first time I heard Gary Moore was 1983-ish. I would have been in 8th or 9th grade. It was on the radio, probably San Jose’s KOME 98.5.

The song was End of the World. That intro guitar solo was MADDENING! My first thought was, “Oh shit!! My precious Eddie!! There’s another freak out there as crazy as you are!!” Anyways, I heard the song and bought Corridors of Power not long after. I looove that album. It was great, my school friend Dave Hull (who was more of a blues guy) liked Gary Moore as well, so we’d swap records, listen and jam together, that kinda thing. Actually, Dave and I were into AC/DC, Ratt, VH, Ozzy, Icon, etc..It’s good to have a friend like that.

So where was I? Ahh, Gary Moore. Mad player. Those fast picked maj7 motiffs he does are awesome. John Sykes and Vivian Campbell totally ripped him off. As much as I harp on about EVH and Lynch, Gary Moore absolutely inspired me and shaped my playing. I owned Corridors of Power and Victims of the Future. Dave had We Want Moore, and I borrowed the fuck out of that. This was all pre CD times as well, ha ha.

I think the reason I liked Gary a lot was his playing was aggressive, but he was so fucking musical while doing it. And at that point in time, he was the guitarist’s guitarist, everybody was digging on him. Check out these clips. The songs and solos are VERY COOL.

Gary, you were extremely inspirational to many guitarists. You had followings in both metal and blues. And well, I love you. For reals.


I love Forbidden

I think was about 20 when I first heard of Forbidden, and I don’t even remember how. Here’s what I do remember:

I was living in San Jose (Ca) when I bought Twisted Into Form. They had just acquired a new guitarist (Tim Calvert), and that album was fucking GREAT. Mean rhythms, mad leads, great vocals, stellar drumming. There were all age gigs at The Mountain View Theater every now and again, but I think I was about 21 when I started seeing Forbidden live. What a treat!!


After my buddy Scot and I went to a few Forbidden gigs, we start bugging Craig Lucicero after every show: How did you get signed? Where did you record? This happened pretty much every single time we saw him. And like an absolute champion, he was never bothered by it. In fact, we started getting invited to their after parties which took place at their rehearsal room in Fremont. Mad shit!! We were partying with Thrash Metal royalty!!

I always thought of Craig as my heavy metal guidance counselor. And when Forbidden toured Australia in 2011, he hasn’t changed!! It was funny!! He even looks the same. He was schooling me on how to introduce my wife to him, etc. I felt 21 all over again.

Forbidden+_bandCraig be far left

When Scot and I finally had our own band going (Sinister Sam), we were sooo happy that we got the opportunity to support Forbidden AND Vio-Lence. Both bands helped us acquire a nice little Bay Area following. And we loved watching them and hanging with them. Both bands were very friendly and quite supportive. Both were quite an influence on Sinister Sam in the early years, for sure. We even intro’d one of our gigs with Forbidden’s Infinite and Vio-Lence’s I Profit. I wished I had that shit recorded.

Sinister Sam supporting Forbidden at Cactus Club


Listen to this song, which I LOOOOVE. This whole album is fucking incredible.

I love Mark McGee – Vicious Rumors

Imagine you’re 19 years of age and it’s 1988. One of your first club going experiences is Racer X at The Stone in San Francisco. 

So, as I remember, it was a four band bill, with Vicious Rumors, a band I had never even heard of, in the support slot. Set times: first two bands, half hour sets. Support, 45 minutes, and headliner would get an hour plus.

So, first two bands went on, had pretty good guitarists. By this time in my life I was very much into the Shrapnel label, George Lynch, Gary Moore, EVH, Vivian Campbell, etc. I could differentiate between good and bad playing, and I knew what I liked.

Out comes Vicious Rumors. Man, you would have thought THEY were the headliners!!! These guys were awesome!! They’re described as power metal. I’d even call it High Energy Metal. The band consisted of  two guitarists (both lead players) and an absolutely kick ass vocalist, who had the vocal gruff of Ronnie James Dio, but with the range of Geoff Tate. All the boxes were pretty much ticked. Drums / bass combo were cool as well, holding that shit DOWN. The drummer had a pretty cool presence.

Vicious Rumors (as it turns out) were a Shrapnel band. Vinnie Moore used to be in it. Well, the guy I saw (Mark McGee) was on par with Vinnie, easily. Long ass curly hair, moved around lots, provided backing vocals, this guy was my inspiration!! Every now and then I forget, but he was, and there’s no denying it. Racer X hadn’t even come out yet and I was ready to leave (glad I didn’t, as they were fucking nuts as well). Ahhhh, what a joy to be there. I loved that gig and I’ve seen YouTube footage of that era for both Racer X and Vicious Rumors. For the people who post those gigs, a trillion thanks.


(Mark’s second from the left, and his site is HERE, and I have Dave Starr the bassist as a Facebook friend. Cool!!)

I had seen  VR quite a few times, and eventually had the balls to walk up to Mark and tell him that he was awesome and I loved him very much, ha ha. I even gave him a steel pick during one of our post gig meetings. He was always nice, and he told me how much he loved the band Heart. I thought that was cool. Variety.


Half a year later or so Vicious Rumors were headlining The Omni in Oakland. I was wayyy into Siouxsie and The Banshees at that stage, and I was wearing this pretty gothy Siouxsie shirt, that had her black and white face on the front:


Carl with my shirt, possibly? A dude who read this blog posted this photo in the comments section below. If this picture was taken at The Omni in Oakland, then this is most definitely my shirt. If the sleeves are cut off then this was definitely my shirt and I am drunk in the audience. My one regret was that I didn’t let him keep the shirt. I should have at least traded for a VR shirt. But 21 year old boys will be 21 year old boys. Read on!!

Very cool if you’re a goth (which were called ‘mods’ in the late 80’s). And I was letting the world know that, yes, I am a metalhead, but I love other shit, too. Well, the singer of VR, Carl Albert, saw my shirt. Before they went on, he comes up to me and goes, “Dude, that is a killer shirt, let me wear it for the gig, we’ll trade shirts..” I go, “okay, but I want BEER.” He takes me  backstage into their room, we trade shirts, and he shows me where the beer is, and I start a chuggin’. I was in Heaven!! Not only am I seeing a rippin’ band, but I’m drinking their fucking beer backstage!! Loved it. And no, I wasn’t driving so I was fine, thanks.

They played a great set, Mark had a guitar solo, which of course was nothing short of bad ass, and after the gig, Carl and I traded shirts again. In hindsight, I probably should’ve told him to keep it. I think I was going to, but while that was spinning around in my head, we were both taking off shirts to re-swap.

Many years later I found out that Carl had died in a car accident. How utterly upsetting. This guy’s voice was fucking incredible, and to lose a talent like that would’ve been absolutely horrible for his band, fans, friends, etc. The world lost a great singer. It still makes me sad.

Cheer up!! The music lives on!! Check out VR’s Digital Dictator and Vicious Rumors, and thank me later. Mark? You are an inspiration! You took the time out to talk to a 19 year old kid who had never even gigged by that point in time, and you treated me as an adult, and not a kid or a ‘fan’. Cheers for that.


Learning guitar in this era

It’s a blessing and a curse. You have websites, video clips, and content coming out of your ass, but you also have a short attention span and 397 other commitments. I don’t envy you one bit. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure if I was a teenager in this current era, I’d be a crappier guitarist than I am now. Lucky I did all my woodshedding pre internet. Otherwise I’d be waaay fucked. It’s all about time management and organizing, anyways. So, this blog is dedicated to the guitarist who is going to learn without a private guitar teacher.


I’m just going to list the way I’d learn things in somewhat of an order. Now, obviously, this isn’t etched in stone, as there’s young kids out there who can grasp music, technique, feel, all that shit intuitively. And to that I say, skip over this and join a fuckin’ band, write and record some songs. Because songs are where it’s at. That’s always gonna be where it’s at. But yes, I am painting with broad strokes here. Take what you like, throw away the rest.

I find it odd that many people want to burn like Loomis or Gilbert, they want to do sweeps, but they don’t even know the note names. So this’ll be a fairly broad list of stuff you should know (or want to know), and the order. Finding a buddy to jam with early on is also in your best interest. In high school I had a few friends to exchange ideas with (Scot Miller, Dave Hull, and Eric Fraser. All still playing today).

1. Note names / major and minor chord names

2. All 5 boxes on the Major and Minor Pentatonic scale. In E minor and A minor. You’ll understand later.

2.5. Vibrato. Andy James says it’s categorized under the ‘feel’ category. Paul Gilbert says vibrato and phrasing are the two biggest challenges in guitar today. Do me a flave, watch this clip and rip off George’s finger vibrato. You’ll make everyone pleased as punch. for reals.

3. Modes of the C major scale in three note per string form. Why? In shred/burn, all the fast stuff is usually three note per string. Makes sense. This will help get you there.

4. Ear training and jamming with a band. I was in bands since I was 14. The earlier you can start jamming with people, the better. This can actually go at 1.5, ha ha.


5. Legato (Left hand burning, a la Nuno, lynch, De Martini, Garsed, Holdsworth, Govan)

6. Staccato (picking every note, a la Yngwie, Gilbert, Becker, DiMeola)

7. Tapping (EVH, Rhoads, sweep taps, etc etc)

8. Sweep arpeggios (This is usually first with every young fucker I run into). Can’t write a song or grasp even basic theory, but you’re happy to sweep all over the place. The enthusiasm is cute, but mostly annoying. It’s like trying to teach a toddler jiu jitsu. It ain’t gonna happen.


9. Hybrid picking (If you’re into that. I’m trying to get into it now and finding it quite a lil’ bitch, tbh).

10. Ugggh, I’m running out of steam. Repeat all that shit until you die, I guess.

When I was 19, The first Paul Gilbert Video (Intense Rock 1) came out. I was busy for years. I still don’t have all of it down. I’ll add that video and the Vinnie Moore one, and that’ll seriously keep you busy for a good 3-5 years.


Practice time. I did 3-6 hour days from about the ages of 18-21. I’d say if you REALLY want to make some progress, do a minimum of an hour a day. Jam with friends, listen to all kinds of music. Check out what Chris has to say on practicing below.

GOOD LUCK!! I have once again run out of steam. Oh, and limit the fucking forums you’re on. Wouldn’t you rather be playing than typing?