Since he first came to prominence as a member of Frank Zappa’s band in the early 1980s, Steve Vai has become one of rock music’s most iconic guitarists. Initially a transcriptionist for Zappa, Steve Vai became a full-fledged member of Zappa’s band and played with Frank from 1980 until 1983. After leaving Zappa, Steve Vai set up his own studio and recorded his debut solo album, FLEX-ABLE, released in 1984. That same year, he replaced Yngwie Malmsteen in hard rock band Alcatrazz. After recording the album DISTURBING THE PEACE with the band, Vai left Alcatrazz to play lead guitar for former Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth. While still employed by Roth, Steve Vai played the role of the Devil’s guitar player in the 1986 film CROSSROADS and played guitar on the soundtrack as well. In 1989, Steve Vai left David Lee Roth’s band and intended to focus on his solo career. However, detours were on Vai’s horizon…
While putting finishing touches on his second solo album, he was asked to replace Adrian Vandenberg in the veteran rock band Whitesnake. He appeared on their 1989 album SLIP OF THE TONGUE and toured with the group for over a year. Vai’s second solo album, PASSION AND WARFARE, was released in 1990. The album was a critical and commercial success and was the album that kickstarted his solo career. While Steve Vai has continued to record solo albums and collaborated with several other artists along the way, it was during this period in his career that he began working with vocalist Johnny ‘Gash’ Sombrotto on a series of 1991 recordings that have remained in the vaults… until now! According to Vai, these songs were recorded as “an answer to my desire to have a particular kind of music to listen to when I was riding my Harley Davison Motorcycle with my friends. It’s reminiscent of a certain type of rock music I enjoyed as a teenager in the 1970’s.” Like many of his recordings, Vai tucked them away in the vault for safe keeping. Any possibility of elaborating on this or any other project ended with Gash’s death in 1998.
In 2023, Steve Vai honors his friend on the 25th Anniversary of his passing with VAI/GASH, an album featuring the eight songs the duo recorded together back in 1991. While Vai and Sombrotto’s friendship was bonded through their love of motorcycles, the guitarist was extremely lucky to have discovered a unique vocalist in Gash. Combining elements of classic ‘70s FM rock and ‘80s AOR, VAI/GASH is a collection of songs that still sound fresh while also sounding like you grew up with these tunes in your back pocket. Like the long-lost love child of Donnie Iris & the Cruisers and Poison, this is an album that is riff-heavy (it IS a Steve Vai project) but also filled with great vocals, harmonies, and big melodic hooks that will have you singing along in no time. Whether you own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle or not, songs like “In The Wind,” “Busted,” and “Danger Zone” will appeal to your melodic hard rockin’ heart. Even an almost-but-not-quite power ballad like “Flowers Of Fire” will fan the flames of your heart. This is a perfect tribute to a vocalist that we never got to know while he was still with us, but at least these tapes exist so we can get to know him now.
STEVE VAI Presents