Steve Vai Addresses David Lee Roth And Whitesnake’s Effect On Him


During a recent interview with Rock Bottom, Steve Vai talked about how his musicianship changed due to the other artists’ contributions. The guitarist stated that working with all these different bands and artists, including David Lee Roth and Whitesnake, definitely affected his playing.

Steve Vai is mainly known for his success as a solo musician, but he has also collaborated with many artists throughout his long music career. In his early years, Vai started to work with Frank Zappa as a session and touring musician while studying in the college. Later, the guitarist joined the band David Lee Roth formed after leaving Van Halen. They released two commercially successful albums together and had extensive tours supporting them.

However, Vai decided to leave the band following the tour to support their second album. The guitarist intended to focus on his solo career, but he couldn’t reject David Coverdale’s offer to join Whitesnake. Steve Vai contributed to the band’s eighth studio album entitled ‘Slip of the Tongue,’ released in 1989. They toured worldwide but his tenure in Whitesnake didn’t last long with his departure in 1990 due to his other career plans.

Having worked with all these names naturally must have impacted Steve Vai’s guitar playing. When asked about these influences, Vai replied by saying that not being influenced by who you work with is almost impossible, and all of them were great chances for him to develop his playing. Performing with Whitesnake, David Lee Roth, and playing Eddie Van Halen’s guitar parts in tours greatly affected him. He can’t exactly spot how they contributed to his guitar playing, but they influenced his style.

Steve Vai speaking on David Lee Roth and Whitesnake’s effect on him:

“It’s impossible to escape influence. You may think that you have, but anytime you hear or see anything,  which is all the time, it will absolutely add to who you are somehow. When I was going through all those rock bands, they offered a great opportunity for me to engage in a kind of rock and roll fantasy a lot of young players dream of. And it was just fantastic.

I got to tour, played arenas, and sold millions of records with David Lee Roth and Whitesnake. And it definitely affected my playing. Because you go through something like that, and you’re playing a lot of Edward Van Halen parts, all of these things. When I look at my playing now, I couldn’t say, ‘Oh, I got that one when I was on the Roth tour.’ It all goes into the same pool.”

You can watch the full interview below.