In an interview with VWMusic, Steve Vai reflected on his years working with Frank Zappa. The guitarist revealed the most important lessons he learned that shaped him and his music to date.

Throughout his career, Steve Vai worked with some of the most influential people in the music industry. Besides the obvious Frank Zappa, he was involved with many other musical talents such as Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth, and Whitesnake. Although Vai started as the transcriber of Zappa’s complex compositions, he quickly became a member of the recording and touring band.

While Vai was heavily trained in compositional music, the rocker still had much to learn during the early days of his career. Recently, he remembered Zappa’s influence on his music when he entered the world of ’80s rock bands. He stated that he remembered how Zappa put all kinds of tunes and melodies together in a single track.

Since he was so young and easily impressible, Zappa’s free-thinking spirit and a go-getter personality, where he just did what he wanted instead of fighting the system, made a distinct impression that followed him to his career today.

Thus, one of the biggest lessons the late musician taught Vai was the desire to go after whatever he wanted without making excuses and, most importantly, to enjoy everything he did throughout his career. He knew firsthand about Zappa’s guitar playing skills as he was the one that transcribed his music for four years. The guitarist also made a point to describe him as a visceral player who doesn’t stick to melodies and makes music instinctively.

Here is what Steve Vai stated:

“There isn’t a day that doesn’t pass where I don’t reflect on the things I learned in my Zappa years because I was so young and so impressionable. Frank was Frank, and he did things that were inspirational to him, and he never made excuses. That’s one of the things I got from him. That was the greatest thing; he did what he wanted because he was a free thinker, and he enjoyed what he was doing. That’s in contrast to the way a lot of people approach their careers. They fight-fight-fight; Frank just did-did-did. I learned that, among many other things.”

He added:

“As far as Frank’s guitar playing goes, I’m intimately aware of his playing because I transcribed it for four years. I worked at writing down these crazy guitar parts, and he was a very visceral type of a player. He wasn’t a refined guitar player; he didn’t play all those bizarre melodies and arranged parts very often. Frank was more visceral, more of a powerhouse when he approached his solos and stuff, and that was inspirational for me to watch and learn from.”

Currently, Steve Vai is as present in the music industry as ever. His latest melody-driven album ‘Inviolate,’ released on January 28, 2022, features the long-awaited Hydra guitar. Hydra’s creation allowed him to perform an entire track with a single guitar with the addition of some drums and keyboards.