Steve Vai recently appeared on FaceCulture for an interview and talked about the shoulder surgery he underwent about a year ago. He explained that he knew he would always have music in his life, even if he didn’t have his guitar.
Steve Vai underwent surgery in early 2021 to repair a trigger finger on his fretting hand and the issue with the tendons in his shoulder. After quickly recovering from shoulder surgery, he released a new instrumental song named ‘Knappsack.’ He wasn’t fully healed, but he still didn’t slow down and showed his passion for making new music.
Vai also had an extensive tour plan within the US in 2022, but he recently had to postpone the dates because he needed to undergo another surgery. During the conversation, Steve Vai revealed that his shoulder actually started disturbing him years ago, but he didn’t pay much attention to it. The guitarist said that he never felt scared but just a little bit disappointed when he couldn’t play after the surgery.
However, he never lost his self-confidence and stated that music is one of the things he does in his life. Vai doesn’t think that music is his whole life because, for him, the world is bigger than this. He stressed that he would always find a way to express himself in music even if he didn’t have his guitar with him. He knew that music would always be with him no matter what. Then, he thought that he could try playing again. When he started, he saw that he still has it and just continued playing.
Steve Vai’s words on the place of music in his life:
“The shoulder started years ago and it was something I was experiencing when I was working out. And I let it go, to the point where I kind of crossed a point of no return where therapies weren’t gonna work and they had to get in there and fix it. And they did, and they did a great job. And it healed. And I made ‘Inviolate’. Unfortunately, over the summer, I tore another tendon, and that’s why we had to move the American leg of the tour to the fall — because I had to get another surgery.
But it’s all right. I’m not worried about any of that. What I noticed is I didn’t panic. There was never a time where I thought… Well, there was a moment after I got the sling off where I started to try to play and there was nothing there — I couldn’t pick, I couldn’t strum. And I thought, ‘Okay, this is what it’s like at the end of the day for a musician.’ And for about 10 seconds, that thought, ‘This is it. I’m done.’ That was in my head.
And I can honestly tell you that with that thought, there wasn’t any fear but there was a disappointment, of course. I don’t define myself as just a guitar player. People say, ‘Music is your life.’ Music isn’t my life. Music is something I do in life. Life is much bigger than what you do in it. So I never felt restricted in expressing creative musical ideas, even if I didn’t have a guitar.
And I always knew that that was gonna be there, no matter what. So I wasn’t devastated. But then another little voice came in, the voice of my higher self — it usually comes into the rescue — and it said, ‘Shut the f*ck up and just start playing. You know you got this.’ And I said, ‘Okay. Yes, sir.’ And I just started. And it came back.”
You can watch the entire conversation with Steve Vai below.