Like many teenagers who start playing guitar, I was initially inspired to pick up the electric guitar. I was really into hard rock and heavy metal at that time and had recently heard the instrumental guitar music of Eric Johnson. Although I had already been into instrumental music from a young age, I felt like there was something about the expressiveness of the guitar that made me want to learn how to play it. I wanted to express things that might be impossible with words.
I ended up playing guitar a lot and often skipped school so I could stay home and play along with CD’s of my favorite bands. I spent a few years playing with friends in bands and got pretty good at playing lead guitar, but I still felt like there was something more to the guitar that I wanted to do.
When I was 18, I started looking through a guitar magazine collection that a cousin gave me. It was something like 200 issues of Guitar Player, Guitar World, Guitar For The Practicing Musician, etc. I had recently become interested in the acoustic guitar after watching a workshop with Preston Reed and had even learned a couple of his tunes from an instructional VHS cassette he had at the time. While looking through the boxes of magazines, I found a few that featured Michael on the cover and my curiosity was piqued.
In one of the magazines, there was a small record called a “SoundPage” that had Michael playing “Because It’s There” on one side and a Steve Vai tune on the other. I was instantly stunned by the music. It was rich, sophisticated, expressive and technically baffling. I couldn’t understand what he was doing as a guitarist, but I felt the music in a powerful way. I continued looking through the other magazines with Michael and found a transcription of his piece “The Naked Stalk”. I tuned my guitar to DADEAB and started to play it.