Joe Satriani reveals that he’s invited Clapton, Beck, and Page on G3 tours



By Steve Newton

A concert by Bay Area guitar wizard Joe Satriani is usually all it takes to transport his followers to instrumental-rock heaven, but come Friday (September 26) at the Plaza of Nations, they’ll be getting way more twang for their buck. That’s when Satriani brings his G3 tour to town, which sees him in the company of metal maestro Steve Vai and youthful blues bender Kenny Wayne Shepherd. As if that weren’t enough, the gig’s special opening act is innovative fret guru Robert Fripp. The idea for the groundbreaking tour—which sees the G3 principals performing separate 40-minute sets before uniting for a climactic jam-o-rama—came out of think-tank sessions between Satriani and his handler at Bill Graham Management.

“We were just looking for a really new way to tour,” explains Satriani, calling from San Francisco during a break from recording his next album, “something that would be really challenging artistically and that people hadn’t seen before. So we just started thinking about including all the other guitar players that we really liked, and before you knew it, we had this G3 idea.

“Then it took another two years to convince other guitar players that it was something that was really cool,” he adds with a laugh, “but here we are. It’s our fifth or sixth leg of going out, so we’re pretty happy.”

The original G3 lineup, which began touring North America in October of last year, had Texas tone master Eric Johnson on the bill with Satriani and Vai, and their efforts were captured for posterity on the G3—Live in Concert CD, released last June with an accompanying home video. Satriani points out that Vai and Johnson were the obvious first choices to join him on the tour.

“Steve and I grew up together,” he says, “and we had a lotta the same hopes and dreams. And then Eric opened up for me on the Flying in a Blue Dream tour for about six weeks, and we had such a good time. I just felt that those two guys were guitar players that really scare me, you know, and that it would be really cool to have them on tour.”

The G3 tour was certainly cool for a while: there’s chills aplenty on tunes like the live album’s closing track, a blistering nine-minute jam on Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House”. But it must have gotten a tad too frosty for Johnson, whose departure now causes Satriani to sigh heavily when he’s asked about its cause.

“The one compromise that an artist has to make with G3 is that he realizes that he’s joining a community of players for the evening,” he relates, “and he’s not just goin’ out for himself. Eric Johnson had just finished an album that took him six years to record, and I think he was planning on going out on tour on his own, so that he could get onstage for two hours and play all the stuff from his new album.

“I think he went along with it [the G3 tour] as far as he could, but…whatever. Everybody that came aboard was well aware that the idea was that every year it would change, so this is movin’ along just like we had hoped.”

Satriani claims that there hasn’t been any backlash from the guitar community regarding the switch to Shepherd. Some may have felt it was a risky move to bring the 20-year-old picker into the G3 fold, especially since he’s relatively new on the music scene and isn’t an instrumentalist per se. But Satriani doesn’t regret the recruitment one bit.

“Not at all, man,” he enthuses, “not when you see Kenny. Not only is he a great player, but he’s a really good performer and he has never let anybody down as far as when it comes to jumpin’ onstage and jamming. He shows up, he plugs in, and he gives the audience a hundred percent of what he’s got. It’s been a joy having him, Steve, and Robert Fripp. They’re just all great, consummate professionals, as well as inspiring performers.”

Satriani reveals that Fripp opens the concert with a solo performance of his new, “very unusual” guitar-generated electronic music. “It’s an interesting segment that he designed himself for the show,” says Satch, “and he plays right up to the minute that Kenny Wayne comes onstage.”

Apart from G3, Satriani’s solo career is in full flight, with his next album—produced by Vancouver’s Mike Fraser—set to hit the stores in late January. It features his incomparable rhythm section from G3, bassist Stu Hamm and drummer Jeff Campitelli, and, according to Satriani, is “extremely different” from his last CD, 1995’s eponymous homage to Jeff Beck.

“The last record was a dip into the past a little bit,” says Satriani, “with a more classic, old-rock-record sound in approach to recording. This is a totally modern affair. It’s a very high-energy, very varied, and more futuristic kind of a record.”

Between his G3 commitments and solo outings—which have sold more than seven million copies and earned six Grammy nominations—Satriani has managed to record a track for an upcoming Christmas collection comprised of favourite seasonal tunes chosen by today’s top rock guitarists.

“I picked ‘Silent Night’,” says Satriani, “because I always thought that was a very beautiful and tender song that had everything to do with what Christmas is really all about, you know what I mean? Obviously, it’s become ‘Jingle Bells’, but it started out being a celebration of the birth of Christ, so I always sorta held on to that.”

Satriani’s current G3 cohorts each contribute a tune to the Christmas disc, as does the aforementioned Jeff Beck. Considering Satriani’s fondness for that Brit guitar legend, is there any chance that he might be the next “scary” player to enter the G3 configuration?

“Ahh, well…we try!” replies Satriani with a chuckle. “Every year we’ve tried to put it together, we’ve invited Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, you know. They just haven’t said yes yet.”


To hear the audio of my interviews with Joe Satriani from 1990 and 2018 subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also listen to my one-on-one conversations with:

Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Alex Van Halen, 1995
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

…with hundreds more to come

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