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Steve Vai

Steve Vai has some serious credits to his name. Before he made a name as a solo artist, he spent time backing a variety of heavyweights -- from Frank Zappa to Johnny Lydon of Public Image Limited (yes, Johnny Lydon/Rotten of the Sex Pistols called Vai for support) to David Lee Roth to Whitesnake. Not surprisingly, it was with the latter two pop-oriented projects that he came into the national spotlight -- in addition to his scorching, devil-fueled performance across from Ralph Macchio in the mostly lame film Crossroads. But the real guitar wizardry began in full with his debut record Flex-Able and the more developed Passion and Warfare -- both high concept albums featuring dizzying seven-string slinging and an epic variety of tunes, from wicked Metal riffing and a slew of guitar textures to the occasional overblown musical mush. Vai may fall on his face with his experiments at times, but it's nice to see a guitar god think about breaking boundaries and concentrating on composition for a change.

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