Happy 51st Birthday to Guitarist, Composer and Inspiration to Us All, Jason Becker


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Rock Cellar Magazine
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Happy Birthday to an amazing talent and force in the music industry: Jason Becker (click here to browse his catalog of music via our Rock Cellar Store).

Truthfully, I was not aware of Jason Becker and his incredible story (visit his official website here) until recently. I ‘met’ Jason by watching Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet, a 2012 documentary film Jesse Vile telling Becker’s story. (Click here to buy the film on DVD).

Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet was recommended to me by Norman Harris, owner of the famed Norman’s Rare Guitars in Woodland Hills, Calif.

Norman’s Rare Guitars sent along a special birthday shout-out to Jason:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fS8XeuljaI

Being an event organizer and former booking manager here in Los Angeles for many years, I thought I had my finger on the pulse of the music scene, but after watching the movie I was very puzzled that I had not heard about Jason before. If you’re in the same boat as I was, allow me to introduce you.

Jason Becker, born in 1969, was raised in Northern California. He began playing guitar at a young age and by his teens, it became clear that he was quickly becoming an extremely proficient player. In 1986, when Becker was 16, the head of Shrapnel Records, Mike Varney, heard some of Jason’s recordings and introduced him to the brilliant heavy metal lead guitarist from Megadeth, Marty Friedman.

Together they formed the band Cacophony, and the two recorded and played together for the next several years. Jason, who at that point had become a very skilled guitarist, composer, and songwriter, also developed a name for himself as a solo artist.

After returning from a solo tour in Japan, Becker was recommended to David Lee Roth’s drummer, Gregg Bissonette, who was helping to replace Roth’s guitarist Steve Vai (who had left to join Whitesnake). At 20 years old, at the apex of his career, Jason joined Roth’s band and they recorded the album A Little Ain’t Enough.

Suddenly there was a drastic turn of events. While Roth and his band were preparing to tour in promotion of the album, Jason noticed signs of weakness in his hands and fingers, as well as the start of a limp. Then came the devastating news … Jason Becker was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

With that, Becker’s performing career was cut short at the age of 20. In 1996, he lost the ability to speak, but thanks to a communication system developed by his father, Gary, Jason has been able to communicate and continue composing music using his eyes ever since.

In 2012, Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet was released. Watching this movie I was simply in awe of Jason’s tenacity and drive to continue creating music, note by note, using the system of communication his dad had devised.

Jason’s music is extremely complex and beautiful. The film includes interviews with Becker, his family, friends, and many musicians he worked with, including Friedman, Vai, Joe Satriani, Richie Kotzen, and Steve Hunter. The film was well received by critics and won many awards, but I want more people to know about it and about him. Jason is truly one of a kind.

Jason’s family started a foundation (click here for more details) to help support the immense costs involved in maintaining his medical expenses. Please consider a donation of any amount as a birthday gift on this, his 51st birthday.

Stay tuned for more on Jason. We hope to do an interview with him in the near future.

Meanwhile, listen to his 2018 album Triumphant Hearts below, via Spotify:

 

Comments

  • mofoso fisto says:

    My first symptoms of ALS occurred in 2011, but was diagnosed in 2013. I had severe symptoms ranging from shortness of breath, balance problems, couldn’t walk without a walker or a power chair, i had difficulty swallowing and fatigue. I was given medications which helped but only for a short burst of time, then i decided to try alternative measures and began on ALS Formula treatment from Akanni herbal centre , It has made a tremendous difference for me (Visit www. akanniherbalcentre .com). I had improved walking balance, increased appetite, muscle strength, improved eyesight and others. 


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