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