Paul Gilbert biography

Paul Gilbert
One of the keys to success in any area of life is to study someone who has gone before you and learn from their attitudes and behaviors.  For those who aspire to be hard rock guitar virtuosos, Paul Gilbert's life, website and experiences can provide valuable insight into what it takes to become a rock superstar.  Gilbert is known for his speedy style, alternative picking method and unique string skipping technique.  It is clear from any reading you do about Gilbert, that instead of being concerned only about the technical aspects of guitar, he sincerely believes that playing guitar is fun.  So many musicians find it a drudgery to practice their instruments and it really holds them back from developing the passion and spirit that they need to be a truly great artist.  One look at Gilbert's website, and you will immediately notice that Gilbert loves playing guitar, never takes himself too seriously, and gets a kick out of the rock guitar scene.  Gilbert's attitude is undoubtedly one of the reasons that he was named #4 on Guitar One's list of “Top Shredders of All Time”. 
Gilbert was born in 1966 in Carbondale, IL but spent most of his childhood in Pennsylvania.  When he was only five years old he started learning how to play the guitar.  His parents gave him a toy guitar and a toy amp to play with, and he was hooked.  Perhaps getting his start with toy guitars contributed to Gilbert's attitude about the guitar being fun.  In his younger years, Gilbert was influenced by the rock sounds of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Kiss and Heart.  By the time he was 15, he was playing with his first band, Tau Zero.  Early in his career he was compared to the now famous guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen.  In 1984, Gilbert took a leap of faith and moved out to California to pursue his musical education.  He attended the Guitar Institute of Technology and within a year had moved up to becing an instructor instead of just an average student.
Not too long after moving to California, Paul Gilbert joined up with a band called Electric Fence, which eventually morphed into Gilbert's first well-known band, Racer X.  Racer X formed around the idea of becoming the most extreme hard rock band around and was highly influenced by Judas Priest.  It gave Gilbert the opportunity to showcase his impressive shredding skills with like-minded musicians in tow.  One of Gilbert's most famous and enduring collaborations began during his Racer X years when he started playing with Bruce Bouilett.  They were clearly a dynamic duo and impressed audiences with their extremely fast guitar skills.  Bouilett wowed fans by simply being able to keep up with Gilbert.  As always, Gilbert kept his sense of humor and ability to have fun and enjoy the music.  The band gained a reputation for being fun-loving and not taking their riotous music too seriously.  Racer X rehearsed fervently and toured around the Los Angeles area to make a name for themselves.  In 1986 Racer X put out its first album, Street Lethal, which featured heavy guitar solos played as fast as the band members could possibly touch their fretboards.  Racer X released a follow-up album, Second Heat, but for Gilbert it was time to move on.
After Racer X put out Second Heat, Gilbert decided to join Billy Sheehan who had formerly played with David Lee Roth and form a new band, Mr. Big.  It is rumored that the name for the band was gleaned from a song by the band Free.  Members of the group included Gilbert, Billy Sheehan, Pat Torpey and Eric Martin.  Mr. Big released its first album, self-titled Mr. Big and enjoyed a positive reception from fans.  However, the band really struck gold when it released its 1991 album, Lean Into It.  The band is still most famous for the smash hit “To Be With You” which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.  During his time with Mr. Big, Gilbert showed that he could be more of a group player and cut back a bit on his wild, fast style.  Still, when the band played live, Gilbert took the opportunity to show off his impressive, frenzied guitar skills.
In 1996, Gilbert struck out from Mr. Big to produce his own solo albums.  His first album, King of Clubs, came out in 1997.  The album was Gilbert's first solo attempt, but, as always, Gilbert kept it fun and light by including contributions by old band mates from Racer X and Mr. Big.  One track that especially stands out to Gilbert fans, “The Jam”, is 18 minutes long and features Bruce Bouilett, Gilbert's guitar compatriot from Racer X.  In 1998 Gilbert went on his first solo tour ever and he followed up his first solo album effort with Flying Dog.  He released Beehive Live in 1999 and Alligator Farm in 2000.
Always a Beatles fan, Gilbert worked on a Beatles cover band project in 2003 entitled “Yellow Matter Custard”.  It gave him another opportunity to have fun playing guitar and doing what he loves.  “Yellow Matter Custard” gave Gilbert a start in working on tribute band projects and he followed up with a Led Zeppelin tribute called “Hammer of the Gods” and a Rush tribute called “Cygnus and the Sea Monsters”.  In 2006 he played three shows with some of his former band mates entitled An Amazing Journey: A Tribute to The Who.  In order to truly honor The Who, Gilbert and his cohorts completely destroyed their instruments after the concerts.  Many great guitarists would never dream of decimating their equipment for the purpose of a tribute show, but this is just one more example of Gilbert's wacky, fun-loving attitude about playing guitar.  
Gilbert has so enjoyed his guitar playing that he often participates in instructional guitar workshops to help would-be guitarists cultivate great style.  Dating back to the 80s when he became an instructor at the Guitar Institute of Technology, Gilbert has always been willing to help.   He regularly wrote articles for Guitar Player magazine all during the 80s and 90s, including a series entitled “Terrifying Guitar 101”.  He has also created a CD-Rom and several videos to help teach others how to rip the way he does.  On his website, Paul's fun, wacky style is exemplified by his comments and advice to young guitarists.  He simply advises any up-and-coming guitar player to practice all the time and be sure to learn something new every day.  He also includes a list of songs that he thinks any accomplished player should master.  The list includes “Circumstances” by Rush, “Mother Mary” by UFO, “Little Dreamer” by Van Halen, “If I Fell” by the Beatles, “Riff Raff” by AC/DC, “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” by the Ramones, “Gettin' Betta” by Pat Travers, “Day of the Eagle” by Robin Trower, “ Majestic” by Journey, and “No Matter What” by Badfinger.  Gilbert continues to teach guitar at the Guitar Institute of Technology, and has even been named honorary dean of the institution.
Some of Gilbert's most recent work includes an instrumental guitar album entitled Get Out of My Yard which features Bruce Bouilett, Gilbert's guitar playing partner in crime from their Racer X days.  In an interview, Paul claimed that he resisted doing an instrumental guitar album for a long time since he has always been a fan of bands with singers, like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.  However, as a guitar player he felt he should put his creative gift to use and make something his own.  Get Out of My Yard includes mind-blowing guitar acrobatics including the use of a human capo, which makes replicating some tracks impossible.
Gilbert claimed his place among all star guitar players by joining up with Joe Satriani and John Petrucci on the G3 tour in 2007.  Paul's latest instrumental guitar album Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar was released in 2008.  Currently, he tours and plays music with his wife Emi, who plays the keyboard.  He claims that Emi has perfect pitch and helps balance out all the musical ideas that he has flowing through his mind.
Through a varied and successful career, Paul Gilbert has always had fun playing the guitar.  He has suffered some hearing loss due to all the loud shows he has played over the years, but he even keeps a light-hearted attitude about this possibly debilitating issue by making jokes about the headphones that he now wears on stage.  Gilbert is a truly unique individual who celebrates his wacky side by creating his own quirky website and becoming increasingly bold with his solo projects.  As long as Paul Gilbert stays in touch with his sense of humor and his love of the guitar, he will continue making music and amazing fans all over the world for many years to come.  

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