Jason Becker was born in 1969 and raised in Richmond, California. He graduated from Kennedy High School where he blew his schoolmates away when he performed Yngwie Malmsteen’s Black Star with his band at a talent show. It was in high school that Becker met Marty Friedman and began playing as the duo Cacophony. They put out two albums, Speed Metal Symphony and Go Off, and toured Japan and the U.S. and while they never went mainstream in the U.S., Europeans embraced their music and they sold out everywhere they went.
At the age of 20, he joined David Lee Roth’s band, replacing Steve Vai. While recording the A Little Ain’t Enough album in 1989, he won the Best New Guitarist award from Guitar Magazine. As he was preparing for the subsequent tour, Jason complained of what he called a "lazy limp" in his left leg. He was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS; Lou Gehrig’s disease) and was given three to five years to live. He could barely finish the recording, with his weakening hands. The album was completed in 1991, but Jason couldn’t go on the supporting tour due to his inability to perform anymore.
He eventually became completely debilitated and even lost the ability to speak. He communicates with his eyes via a system developed by his father. Although his ALS robbed him of his ability to walk, talk, move, and play guitar, he still remains mentally sharp and, with the aid of a computer, continues writing songs. In the back of his Perspective CD that was released in 1996, Jason states, "I have ALS. It has crippled my body and speech, but not my mind." If you want to be inspired by a man who has overcome one of the most tragic diseases to ever affect a human being, check out his website: http://www.jasonbecker.com . Enjoy!
Perpetual Burn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qCQLyb0-mI&feature=related
Hot for the teacher: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnnY3BxCoEk&feature=related
Paganini’s fifth caprice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-Vz-7WAKg4&feature=related
Mozart Symphony in G: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10tD46Oxykw&feature=related
Drop in the bucket: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V53k5mjL4Q&feature=related
Bouree in E minor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0PGra6n4oo&feature=related
I’m pairing Jason with a very nice summer red, the 2010 Alain Jaume et Fils Réserve Grand Veneur Rosé (Côtes du Rhône; $15.00). The Grand Veneur Rosé is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Cinsault. Lots of black cherry and raspberry flavors with a touch of pepper complimented by aromas of dark berries and lavender. At this price, it’s a terrific wine and compliments the shredding of Jason Becker harmonized with the Fourth of July fireworks that are exploding all around me right now. Happy fourth.