Joe Satriani Recalls Being ‘Petrified’ at First Concert
Joe Satriani recalled the first concert he ever played as a 14-year-old high school student, and admitted he was so scared that he spent the whole night faced away from the audience.
The guitarist recently released his 18th solo album, What Happens Next, but back when he walked onstage at Long Island's Carle Place High School for the first time in the early ‘70s, he had no idea what was in store.
“I was invited to play with this band, and I was so excited but I was really petrified," Satriani told Music Radar. "There’s a photograph of me at that gig, and my back is to the audience. I was two feet from the drummer and I just looked at him the whole night. I had my [Jimi] Hendrix hat on and this small bottle of cheap champagne that had a multi-colored candle in it – my Hendrix candle – and I brought that onstage to give me courage and invite Jimi’s mojo to help me through the gig.”
Since then, his career evolved to include teaching some of the most successful rock guitarists of all time, including Metallica’s Kirk Hammett -- which has led to one of Satriani’s favorite life experiences. “We played right before Metallica on their stage in Quebec City a couple of years ago," he recalled. "Beautiful night, the day after my birthday in the middle of July, 120,000 people spread out over these beautiful grounds. That was unbelievable, and it was kinda cool because I was backstage with Kirk, who I’ve known since he was a really young person, just hanging out, and the fact that we got to play on the same night on the same stage together was really great.”
At the other end of the spectrum is Satriani’s Spinal Tap moment, which took place at a festival in France. “Right away we notice that it doesn’t sound quite what we’re used to," he said. "We started to hear somebody else talking and hitting drums in the monitors while we’re playing. Poor [drummer] Marco Minnemann is 30 feet away and he’s got that look of total fear on his face, and it turns out he can’t hear a note I’m playing. For some reason, he was getting the feed from the other stage as the techs were setting up for the band that was following us. … And this is going out on live TV!”