Joe Satriani Admits He Wasn’t The Right Guitarist For Mick Jagger

Speaking to Ultimate Guitar, Joe Satriani revealed that he thought he wasn’t the right guitarist for some time when he was playing with Mick Jagger. Satriani didn’t want to copy other guitarists’ styles, so he asked Mick Jagger which of the many guitarists he had worked with he should play like. Satriani described the times when he wasn’t sure which guitarist he should play like this:

“When I hit the national or the worldwide scene, I was playing with Mick Jagger, and I was not the right guy for the gig, at least I thought. You know, I don’t again, I had already disengaged from trying to copy those kinds of players. Love the Stones ever since I was a kid, but purposely didn’t try to copy, Keith Richard or any of the guitar players that were featured as lead guitar players.”

Answering Satriani’s question, Jagger said he had to reflect his own style. Satriani continued:

“With then, all of a sudden, there I am standing next to Mick Jagger, and I’m thinking, ‘Hey Mick, you want me to play the solo exactly like, you know, Keith did, or like Ronnie did, or Brian?’ And he’s like, ‘No, just do whatever you want, just get into the song and just be yourself.’ And that’s the way we do it.”

Satriani Didn’t Think He Was Right For Jagger Even Before

Satriani didn’t think he was the right guitarist, even before he was sure he was going to play for Mick Jagger. On his ‘Surfing with the Alien’ tour in 1987, despite the success of his record and interest from MTV, Satriani struggled to secure profitable gigs. It was during this challenging period that he received an unexpected offer from a former agent who proposed an audition for Mick Jagger’s solo band. Even though Satriani didn’t think he was the right fit for Jagger, he still seized the opportunity.

This collaboration marked a turning point for Satriani, as he was able to cancel the rest of his less profitable dates and spent the next two months working closely with Jagger in New York and Japan. In 2022, he talked about that difficult period on the Tone Talk Youtube channel. He said:

“I got a call from a former agent who said, ‘Hey, how would you like to go audition for Mick Jagger’s solo band?’ And we laughed for about a minute because we knew that I wasn’t the right guy for it. But, you got to go, right? You just got to check it out. And so I went to NYC, I had a gig there, at The Bottom Line. Anyway, before I landed in NYC, the day before I do the audition, I get the gig, I invite Mick to come and play at the show, just as a joke, just to come and jam.”

After Mick’s unexpected acceptance of this offer, considering the small venues Satriani played in, things changed for Satriani. He continued:

“He says, ‘Yes,’ he shows up, and to the shock of everybody there, he jumps on stage, and he does ‘Red House’ (by Jimi Hendrix) with us. It was really, really amazing. And things did start to change from there.”

You can watch the full Ultimate Guitar interview below, where Joe Satriani talks about his time playing for Mick Jagger.