Steve Vai made his name playing 'stunt guitar' with the legendary rock performer, composer, music producer, and publishing mogul Frank Zappa. He has since played with a wide variety of artists. In the early 80's he replaced Yngwie Malmsteen as lead guitarist in Graham Bonnett's Alcatrazz. Then he joined former Van Halen front man David Lee Roth's group to record the albums Eat 'em and Smile and Skyscraper. Vai also stepped into guitarist Adrian Vandenberg's shoes to record with British rock legends Whitesnake (after Adrian Vandenberg broke his arm in a skateboarding accident) shortly before recording was due to begin for the album Slip of the Tongue.
Steve Vai continues to tour regularly, both with his own group and with his one time teacher and fellow Grammy award winning guitar instrumentalist friend Joe Satriani (on the G3 series of tours). Vai received a Grammy Award in 1991.
Steve Vai's music has featured in a number of feature films, including Ghosts of Mars and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. He appeared onscreen in the 1986 Ralph Macchio vehicle Crossroads, playing the demonically-inspired Jack Butler. At the film's climax, Vai engages in a guitar duel with Macchio (with Vai himself dubbing Macchio's part). The impossibly fast classical-baroque track (entitled Eugene's Trick Bag) with which Macchio wins the competition was composed by Vai, and has become a favorite apprentice-piece among many guitar students.
Where Vai's contributions to others' material has been constrained by the largely rock or heavy-rock style of those bands, his own material is considerably more esoteric. Vai is an accomplished studio producer (he owns two: "The mother ship" and "The harmony hut") and is own recordings combine his signature guitar prowess with novel compositions and considerable use of studio and recording effects. His own recordings (which include solo albums and ones made with an ad-hoc band) include: