Credit: Neil Zlozower
Steve Vai didn’t feel the pressure of competing with Edward Van Halen when he became David Lee Roth’s guitarist in 1986. That was simply because he never bothered to compete.
“Having, I’ll say ‘the shadow’ of Edward hanging over me, I didn’t feel pressure,” said Vai during a recent appearance on the Vintage Rock Pod. “If I would have felt pressure, it would have meant that I was competing with Edward and you can’t do that. It’s foolish. You can’t compete with Edward..[laughs]..ya know?”
With that mindset, Vai was able to experience nothing but “damn good” times while recording and touring with Roth starting with Eat ‘Em and Smile (released this week in 1986), followed by 1988’s Skyscraper.
“When I was making those records with Dave I was very at ease, they were very enjoyable,” Vai said. “I loved getting in the studio and knocking out those guitar parts. I didn’t know what people were gonna think. I can’t control that, I just knew that I had an opportunity to push it…ya know, to push the bar and I just did my best to do that and I enjoyed it. We had a great time. Touring with Dave Roth was…man, that was fantastic.”
Vai had more to say about his experience working with Roth and how he handled his newfound fame in the video below.