Steve Vai: Going on tour with Frank Zappa and David Lee Roth

Steve Vai: Going on tour with Frank Zappa and David Lee Roth

In an episode of Paltrocast Steve Vai he recalled feeling sick after his first tour with Frank Zappa, a musician who is known to be very demanding. The then-young guitarist thought he'd had enough of touring until, Ultimate Classic Rock reports, his experience with his solo band David Lee Roth it didn't change his mind about it.

Steve Vai played with Frank Zappa from 1980 to 1983, then joined the Alcatrazz for a year, before joining Roth for the album

“Eat 'Emand Smile” from 1986. “I started touring when I was 20 with Zappa. And those tours were pretty brutal. Because we flew every day, there were no tour buses. So wake up at 9, straight from the airport to the concert venue, and Frank would do sound checks as soon as you arrived until the doors were open.”

Even the soundchecks weren't very easy to complete. “It's between two and four hours in which Frank writes, teaches, records, we recorded everything he recorded. Plus, we had a repertoire of 80 songs, 60% of which tax the guitar to death… They shouldn't never be played on the guitar! Then you take a 45 minute break and go out on stage to do the show. Then another 45 minute break and usually do a second show. Frank wrote the set list literally five minutes before we went on stage. E in all three years of touring with him, the set was never the same twice.”

But the day didn't end with the concert: “We didn't go to visit the city. You couldn't see anything except what you could see on the drive from the airport. And I had to go home and practice because I didn't know what songs he was going to call the next night, I had to make sure I knew them. After those tours I thought, 'I've had enough. I don't like touring. I will not do it again'. I turned yellow and had jaundice on my first tour! I didn't know how to eat or sleep. I was simply and completely put off by the tour. It was scary for me.”

Go on tour with David Lee Roth instead it was truly a completely different life. “I had a tour bus, no sound check, one show and then you go crazy playing just plain rock 'n' roll. That's when I really started to appreciate touring. I always took a bike with me, or I'd go jogging .And I loved touring. I loved seeing the world, I still do. Every day I went out… seeing the people and the culture and the food and everything.”