Although his name isn't as instantly recognizable as Steve Vai or Joe Satriani amongst the guitar masses, Stevie Salas is just as renowned as the aforementioned guitarists in other parts of the world (namely Japan), while he has also served as a sideman for the likes of Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger.
A Native American, Salas was raised in San Diego, California, where he learned guitar and absorbed a wide variety of musical influences early on -- everyone from Earth, Wind & Fire to Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. Relocating to Hollywood with hopes of launching a music career, Salas quickly realized it wasn't going to be as easy as originally planned. As a result, he was reduced to working at a recording studio, where he answered phones and did chores -- barely scraping together enough to get by. One evening, when he was sleeping on a sofa at the studio, he was awoken by none other than Funkadelic leader George Clinton, who was recording and needed some guitar work done. Salas obliged, and before he knew it, he became a much sought-after session guitarist, appearing on late-'80s era recordings by the likes of Bootsy Collins, Was (Not Was), and Eddie Money, among others, as well as even landing a brief spot as the 'house band' on the TV show Fame. It was around this same time that Salas formed his own group, Stevie Salas Colorcode, which was momentarily put on hold, as the guitarist was offered a gig he simply couldn't pass up -- as he was invited to join Rod Stewart's touring band. After the Stewart tour wrapped up (which included multi-night stays at such prestigious venues as the L.A. Forum and Madison Square Garden), Salas was offered his own record deal with Island Records, resulting in the release of Stevie Salas Colorcode in 1990. Despite landing an opening slot for Joe Satriani at the time (who was touring behind his hit release, Flying in a Blue Dream), Salas' debut didn't exactly light up the U.S. charts, but in Japan, Salas quickly built a large and devoted following. Salas' sophomore effort, 1993's The Electric Pow Wow, included guest appearances from Slim Jim Phantom, Matt Sorum, Zakk Wylde, plus Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson, while 1994's Back From the Living was named "Album of the Year" in Japan (over releases by such heavyweights as the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith). Salas has continued to issue solo releases (most of which were only available in the U.S. as imports), including 1997's Alter Native Gold and Le Bootleg/Live in Paris, 1998's The Sometimes Almost Never Was, and Viva La Noise, 1999's Sol Power, and 2001's Shapeshifter. Additionally, Salas continues to work with other artists, including Duran Duran, Terence Trent D'Arby, Sass Jordan, and is forming a one-off power trio with Bootsy Collins and Buddy Miles, called Hardware. As if his schedule wasn't busy enough, Salas was handpicked by Mick Jagger to play shows alongside the longtime Rolling Stones' frontman in support of his 2001 release, Goddess in the Doorway. ~ Greg Prato