STEVE VAI: ‘JASON BECKER Continues To Innovate And Inspire In Meaningful Ways’

Steve Vai has commented on his involvement with “Some Assembly Required”, a collaboration project conceptualized by ALICE COOPER guitarist Nita Strauss and her fiancé, manager and drummer Josh Villalta, combining some of the top guitarists in the world to do something incredibly special in tribute to this once-in-a-lifetime musician — Jason Becker.

Utilizing an unreleased demo of Becker‘s, Strauss, along with Vai, Zakk Wylde, Chris Broderick, Phil Demmel, Jennifer Batten and many more, came together, lending their hearts and souls into what’s become an unforgettable, unmissable display of guitar mastery.

“Some Assembly Required” has quickly turned into a powerful display that is equal parts a six-string love-story and a call for action for us all to take a closer look at what can be done to help others suffering from the same degenerative disease that took hold of Becker.

In a social media post on Friday (February 16),Vai wrote about “Some Assembly Required”: “Jason Becker was at the forefront of the original shred movement back in the late 80’s. His playing style was visceral and commanding and he was a focused figure in ushering in the rock virtuoso guitar movement. As many of you know, while reaching for (and embracing) the stars, Jason was diagnosed with ALS in 1989, right at the time he was replacing me in the David Lee Roth Band. He was able to finish his excellent guitar work on Roth‘s ‘A Little Ain’t Enough’ album before the ALS debilitated him. Even after this affliction started to rob him of his ability to play, to walk, and eventually to speak, he and his uncompromisingly supportive father developed a system of communication using Jason‘s eye movements. In spite of all this, Jason continued composing with the use of a music-composing computer program that reads movements of his head and eyes. Since then, Jason has gone on releasing records such as Perspective, Raspberry Jams, Blackberry Jams, Warmth in the Wilderness I, and Warmth in the Wilderness II.

Jason Becker is perhaps our most shining example in the entire musical sphere of the human spirit against unthinkable challenges. He continues to innovate and inspire in meaningful ways.

“Some time ago I was approached by Nita Strauss to contribute some playing to this wonderful track with so many others, to support Jason‘s ‘Jason Becker Special Needs Trust‘.

“Please consider following this link and making a much needed donation to this trust to help Jason and his family at their time of need.”

When “Some Assembly Required” was first released, Strauss said in a statement: “The original idea Josh put forward was to work together on a song for my own album. We poured through lots of Jason‘s demos until we landed on this track, which was originally recorded with Gregg and Matt Bissonette. However, as the idea materialized, we realized this could be a much bigger project and more importantly, have a bigger impact to help Jason raise awareness and funds. From there, it took on a life of its own. The incredible Billy Sheehan came down to the studio and played bass, and we reached out to tons of Jason‘s friends and peers, from all genres and eras, and amassed an army of friends to trade solos on this track. We left Jason‘s original demo solo where it was, where it shines to this day alongside so many of the players that love and look up to him. We were able to send this video to Jason on Christmas Day and bring some holiday cheer to him and his family! He loved it and christened it with the name we have today — ‘Some Assembly Required’.”

Jason said: “So, I wrote this song in early 1990, hoping that David Lee Roth would want to use it. I went to Matt and Gregg Bissonette‘s place and recorded it with them. It was a lot of fun. Dave passed on it. Cool, because now all these fantastic players get to jam on it.

“A few years ago, Nita and Josh came over to go through some of my unreleased music to see if they wanted to do some kind of collaboration. This Christmas they surprised me with this beautiful video. Man, what a gift! Not only from them, but from everyone involved. I am such a big fan of you all! Thank you all so very much.”

For an insider’s look on how Becker‘s guitar family came together for this harrowing tribute, allow Strauss to explain in the exclusive short below.

For those who may not know of Jason Becker‘s legacy, we’d have to travel back to 1985 when 16-year-old guitarist Becker partnered up with Marty Friedman as the duo CACOPHONY. His success at such an early age was no coincidence, his metal mastery becoming a talking point amongst his peers, going on to support some of the biggest names in rock including David Lee Roth and create some huge guitar moments as a solo artist.

As Becker‘s career began to blossom, Jason was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 1989 — at just 20 years old. As the disease progressed, Jason no longer could hold on to the instrument, but the urge to continue pushed on as he, amazingly, engineered his own way of writing music, a technique using “eye geometry” and chin movements, described further in the documentary on Becker‘s journey.

A trailer for the film “Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet”, a compilation of interviews, live footage, and more on the unbreakable spirit and the ingenious songwriting ability of the guitarist that influenced so many can be seen below.

The guitar community has spoken and is asking for all of us to stand up and be an ally to Jason Becker and his family as he continues fighting this battle. There is an ongoing struggle to find a full-time caregiver, making proper help seem a hugely daunting challenge. Already saddled with the daily task of staying alive against all odds, there comes additional stress and worry for Jason and his family for all of the many out-of-pocket medical fees.

Keeping positive and consistently creating is essential for Becker, so we invite you to keep up with his latest creations through his web site, www.JasonBecker.com, where you can also donate to the Jason Becker Special Needs Trust.

A full list of guitarists and friends included in the creation of “Some Assembly Required”:

Chris Broderick
Joe Bonamassa
Gus G
Paul Gilbert
Angel Vivaldi
Steve Vai
Steve Stevens
Rob Scallon
Jennifer Batten
Nili Brosh
Richie Kotzen
Marc Rizzo
Lari Basilio
Zakk Wylde
Alex Skolnick
Phil Demmel
Nita Strauss
Jason Becker
Marty Friedman
Herman Li
Steve Lukather
Jared Dines

Drums were recorded by Josh Villalta; bass by Billy Sheehan. Mixed and mastered by Nick Sampson.

Jason Becker was at the forefront of the original shred movement back in the late 80’s. His playing style was visceral and commanding and he was a focused figure in ushering in the rock virtuoso guitar movement. As many of you know, while reaching for (and embracing) the stars, Jason was diagnosed with ALS in 1989, right at the time he was replacing me in the David Lee Roth Band. He was able to finish his excellent guitar work on Roth’s “A Little Ain’t Enough” album before the ALS debilitated him.
Even after this affliction started to rob him of his ability to play, to walk, and eventually to speak, he and his uncompromisingly supportive father developed a system of communication using Jason’s eye movements. In spite of all this, Jason continued composing with the use of a music-composing computer program that reads movements of his head and eyes. Since then, Jason has gone on releasing records such as Perspective, Raspberry Jams, Blackberry Jams, Warmth in the Wilderness I, and Warmth in the Wilderness II.

Jason Becker is perhaps our most shining example in the entire musical sphere of the human spirit against unthinkable challenges. He continues to innovate and inspire in meaningful ways.

Some time ago I was approached by Nita Strauss to contribute some playing to this wonderful track with so many others, to support Jason’s “Jason Becker Special Needs Trust”.
Please consider following this link and making a much needed donation to this trust to help Jason and his family at their time of need.

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Posted by Steve Vai on Friday, February 16, 2024


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