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Guitarists: Jason Becker

What’s your earliest memory of the guitar?

When I was two or three years old. My mom was cooking dinner in the evening, and my dad was playing classical songs on his Ramirez guitar. I was just sitting on the floor, listening. It’s a very calming memory.

How did you feel seeing footage of yourself on stage as a teenager in Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet?

It was good to remember those days, and all of the fun I had. Some of the stuff I did in high school was pretty embarrassing, though. My spandex pants, especially the zebra ones, were pretty funny.

What is it about classical music that attracts so many virtuoso rock guitarists?

I heard classical music and fell in love with it. Then as I got better on guitar, I wanted to make those same sounds… I always wanted to challenge myself and make any kind of music that I thought of in my head. Plus, girls like badass guitar players who can do anything, ha ha!

How do you respond to those who call technically complex playing ‘soulless’?

Well, in many cases they have a point… many people, though, when they hear any speed, assume it has no soul. That’s smug ignorance. I’ve caught myself saying, “They have no soul.” Well, maybe they aren’t trying to have soul. I don’t have to listen to it.

Do you think people make music to realise their true selves, or as escapism?

Music unconsciously makes us feel closer to our true selves. Also, maybe some of us like ourselves better when we play music, or need an escape from the boredom or problems of life. As music is a universal language, it can help us feel accepted.

Polly is Features Editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage) and writes a few things. She also writes for Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer, and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.