(06 Dec 02)
You know the drill... I usually start out my articles with some boring story or a way-too-long-introduction. And I'm not gonna do it in a different way this time, so let's get it over with, mmkay ?!?
Back when I started out, I was a big fan of Eddie Van Halen. He was my inspiration to get a guitar. I didn't even know the VH-debut back then. I owned the "1984"- and the "Van Halen II" records. But I knew that "Van Halen I" was an extremely cool and influential album and featured the mind-boggling "Eruption"-solo. So one day I went to a record-store and bought a tape of VH I. And guess what... I WAS blown away. I loved ( still do ) that record, and it influenced me quite a bit. So much cool stuff on that one.
Than, someone recommended I check out Racer X, a band featuring a young guitar talent named Paul Gilbert. It was a bit tough to get my hands on their debut "Street lethal", but eventually I did. And again... I was absolutely amazed by the guitar playing on that album.
And soon, I knew that PG would be another really important influence of mine. I followed his career, buying his albums with Mr. Big, and in 98 I got "king Of Clubs". I always loved his playing, a combination of unbelievable chops and some really cool bluesy-phrasing and memorable melodies. I also liked his style, his whacky sense of humour, and I admired his determination and discipline. This dude was just getting better, tossing out lots and lots of awesome licks and solos. I later saw him perform with Mr. Big live, attended two of his workshops and saw him perform live at the GIT. And to this day, he amazes me and never ceases to surprise me with his songwriting, the many styles he covers, his playing.
So here's my "tribute-portrait" about PG...
Some sort of biography...
Paul picked up the guitar at about age 5 in 1971, but it took a while until he started to work on it seriously. At home, he listened to a lot of music ( Beatles, 50s and 60s stuff ). He also was influenced by his uncle Jimmy Kidd, a blues-player from the WA-area.
Paul worked on his playing quite a bit, and later attended the GIT. Not only is he still one of their most outstanding students, he also won the "LA Guitar Wars", and he also started to teach at the GIT for a while, at a very young age. ( in 1987 )
During his time as a student, Paul established the metalband Racer X. They set out to be the fastest, loudest and most extreme metal-band around. Not only did they write some really cool metal-tunes, they also showcased Paul's amazing talent as a player (later in combination with fellow shredder Bruce Bouillet).
And they really had a cool sense of humour. Don't take all that "serious" metal-attitude too serious. They simply had fun playing some very fast and loud heavy metal.
The band recorded their debut, "Street Lethal", which started off with the mind-boggling guitar solo "Frenzy", and also featured "Y.R.O.", a metalinstrumental featuring Paul's version of Niccolo Paganini's "Perpetual Motion".
The band played out a lot in the LA-area, and eventually gained some notoriety. They recorded their next album, "Second Heat", which again was heavy, fast and loud. (feat. Scott Travis on drums and Bruce Bouillet on guitar). The songs were based on very cool metal-riffs, and featured extremely fast and wild guitar solos plus some amazing unisono-leads of Paul and Bruce. The band was rehearsing like crazy, and the result of that is documented on the two live-CDs "Extreme Volume 1" and "Extreme Volume 2".
A while later, Paul quit to join a new project of Billy Sheehan. That project was called Mr. Big and featured Gilbert, Sheehan, Pat Torpey on drums and Eric Martin on vocals. The debut was pretty successful and the band played live all over the world, i.e. as an opener for Rush.
The sophomore album "Lean Into It" became their most successful release... it featured the megahit "To Be With You", which was No.1 in several countries.
With Mr. Big, Paul showed that he also was a great "band-guitarist", cutting back on the speed a bit, playing some quite melodic and tasteful leads. Still, live, he really ripped, as documented on the video "Mr. Big Live In San Francisco". His guitar-solo on that one is amazing.
To make a long story short, Paul toured with the band quite a bit, recorded a few more albums with them, and eventually quit to pursuit a solo-career.
In 98, he released his first "real" solo album (not counting the "Tribute To Jimi Hendrix")"King Of Clubs", an album filled with really cool pop- and rock-tunes, full of great melodies. Also featuring "The Jam", an 18minute jam between Paul and Bruce B. There are some really astonishing licks on that one !
To this day, Paul is releasing solo-albums, focussing on great songwriting ( also handling lead-vocals ) in combination with ripping guitar-solos.
He also released several instructional videos, plays a bunch of workshops every year, and obviously enjoys to stay busy like that. He also reunited Racer X and recorded 2 studio- and 1 live-album with them (the third studio album of the reunited Racer X is just about to be finished).
If you want to read more about Paul's career (in case you think that this isn't a really interesting biography of it... I do too, I guess I'm better talking about guitars), check out the web... Paul is a bit more popular than my last "victim", Greg Howe, and there are several websites devoted to him.
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