Joe Satriani: “The Guitarist Whose Tone I’d Never Mistake for Anyone Else”

October 19th, 2016

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PHOTO: C. Brandon | Getty Images
 
By Christopher Scapelliti

Joe Satriani was asked to name one guitarist whose sound he would never confuse for anyone else.

His choice? Queen guitarist Brian May.

Speaking with Classic Rock, Satriani says, “Brian’s like a whole universe unto himself. The first time you hear him you go, ‘What the fuck is that?’ It’s beautiful music, original tone and an amazing application of the guitar—the harmony, the way he strings together his rhythm and solo parts, his ensemble and call-and-response parts.

“It’s unbelievable how deep his universe is.”

Satch has been on a Brian May kick for quite some time. Just last year, he raved about May in an interview with MusicRadar.com, noting, “Brian’s got a composing style that you notice right away. His guitar style is famous along with his gear—that famous guitar from the fireplace mantel that he and his dad built,” he said, referring to May’s Red Special, which he handbuilt with his father, Harold, while in his teens.

“I’ve played it,” Satch says, “and, unfortunately, I don’t sound anything like Brian when I play that guitar. Only Brian sounds like that.”

In that same interview, Satriani revealed his first time hearing May’s guitar work.

“When I was a young player and someone played a Queen record for me the first time, I was utterly floored,” Satch said. “There’s just nothing but questions in your mind. Meanwhile, your body is loving it. The visceral experience is just so wonderful and it’s so much fun.

“He’s one of those guitar players that could mix fun and serious and really pull it off. That music can be cathartic and unapologetic and just make you want to get up and kick ass. I love that. That’s rock ’n’ roll right there.”

In the video from 1992 shown below, Satch and his pal Steve Vai join with May for a rendition of the Queen track “Tie Your Mother Down.”