One of my long-time friends gave me a letter that I had written to her back in 1992 after I had met my guitar hero (right up there with Yngwie!) PAUL GILBERT for the very first time.
She figured it could be cool for me to have it now, all these years later, and maybe use it as material for my blog.
If she hadn’t given me this letter, I wouldn’t have remembered that I even got a kiss from Paul GIlbert (a very innocent one, but hey – still)!
FROM A TYPED LONG LETTER (over 20 pages!) after meeting MR BIG
at Circus, Stockholm, Sweden…..
April 29, 1992 (bits and pieces, that letter was crazy long! Slight changes also so that it makes better sense. :))
I couldn’t sleep, I had only ONE thing in mind: I HAD to meet Paul Gilbert. When I called my friend Lena she had suddenly changed her mind and didn’t even want to go! She said she had already seen and met Mr Big. She had tons to do, had no money and a whole bunch of bad excuses. I told her to cut the crap, get off her ass and tag along! She did. :-)
When we got to Circus (the venue) a limo with tinted windows pulled up just as we arrived, it was the band.
There were lots of fans there and the security guys exaggerated their attempts to keep people away from the car. So when Eric Martin stepped out, he grabbed one of those red roadsides and started yelling into it, making fun of the security guys: “Alright alright people! Move it, move it!”
The guards didn’t find it amusing, but he was just laughing at them, with that boyish smile of his.
[Jumping to the part where we are hanging out after the show, trying to figure out how to meet the band…]
We met Helen from WEA and a girl I knew, asked her to leave a message for Billy Sheehan. She had met him in the States and he had told her that she should look him up anytime & anywhere and he’d get her in on the guest list. So – she asked Helen to just give him the message.
Helen looked reluctant, saying something like “yeah, maybe“…. But probably not. She would be back “in a minute“. When she came back, she said she would catch BIlly AFTER the show. Yeah – right.
Oh and by the way, I found out that Paul goes to the same hairdresser as Vixen. Not that it has anything to do with anything, but, just a bit of trivia.
ANYHOO…… After the show, it was the same old shit as usual, security kicking everybody out, clearing the premises. I was convinced that I would have to accept that I would NOT be meeting Paul GIlbert this time. Yet I didn’t want to leave.
We told the security people that we were waiting for Helen from WEA, so they let us stay. Helen finally came out, shrugged her shoulders and just left. Not that I expected anything different anyway, but it was worth a try.
Lena was tired and wanted to go home. I didn’t, so I just went over to the groupie-section and joined all those chicks. I might as well sit there and wait.
Then a MIRACLE happens…!
A guy from EMA Telstar (concert promotor) walks up to the bunch, barely looks at anyone because he’s got his nose in his papers, and goes: “Would you follow me please!” and waved for us to follow him. We just walked STRAIGHT IN – without passes!
Apparently they didn’t expect anyone to be sitting there without a pass, so they didn’t even check!
I was super excited and whispered to Lena: “Can you believe that we are on our way to meet Paul?!” She just yawned and said she wanted to go home. Very inspiring indeed.
We were shown to this corridor and given free beer. A lot less groupies than usual by the way. Not like Skid Row’s backstage area. Mr Big only had maybe 10 groupies and they weren’t as slutty as Skid Row’s.
Pat came down and greeted everybody with a smile: “Good evening, ladies!” One of the girls yelled: “Nice ass!” – and he strutted his stuff all the way to the dressing room haha!
Up next, was Billy, who looked dead tired after the show. He stopped, looked at everyone and went: “I’m feeling better already!”
He walked on. “If you follow me, ladies….” and suddenly he had ten chicks following him like a tail. He yelled through the dressing room door: “ARE YOU DECENT??” and got a loud “YES!” from Pat, we all walked in. There was only Pat in there – and lots of food and drinks.
Eric walked in, mr Hyper! He was singing, joking, just attracting attention. I don’t know why, but I started talking with him and I asked if he wasn’t worried that people would start thinking of Mr Big as a ballad-band, because they released two ballads in a row as singles?
– Don’t you want us to be successful? This is obviously what people want to hear. We released “Daddy, brother…” and “Green Tinted Sixties Mind” as singles, so we’re not a ballad band!
He kept going on and on about it, I never meant it THAT seriously, it was just a thought.
While he was talking away, I saw Paul’s shoes walking in our direction, and next thing I know, he’s standing right next to me. Lena gave me a look and a wink, as if to say “THERE he is!” Geeezuz.
Suddenly Eric yells:
– ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? with a “what the fuck“-smile.
Lena quickly leaned over to Eric and explained: “GOD just entered the room…!”
Eric looked at me – looked at Paul and yeah, he got it! He gave me a wink and a smile and left.
I was shaking like a leaf as I was trying to get my Racer X-CD’s and the “Guitars That Rule The World”-CDout of the plastic bag .
I walked up to him, he greeted me cheerfully and started talking. A lot! I had had this idea that he was a shy type of guy, but… far from it!
He hadn’t even SEEN the “Guitars That Rule The World“-cover before! So he was very curious. He had only heard Zakk Wylde’s song on that album and said he liked it.
Then he saw that godawful pic of him and Billy and just laughed out loud. People were turning their heads just to see what was going on. He held the pic up in the air yelling: BILLY!! HAVE YOU SEEN THIS??! JESUS CHRIST!!!
He wanted to know if I REALLY wanted that horrible picture signed, and yeah I did – so he signed it, but giggled for minutes after that. He gave me a pick as well.
I told him that I loved his little tune, and he said thanks, and explained that it was mostly meant as a joke, to make fun of that whole guitar-hero myth. I asked if he would ever consider playing it live, and he replied that it would be almost impossible because the song consisted of 5 different solos mixed with acoustic guitar,
I laughed and said: “Hey, people call you a genoius – you should be able to rearrange it and play it live!”
He laughed, said it was a fun idea, he would definitely consider it and see what he could come up with. So – if he ever DOES play it live, I will know where he got the idea from. ;)
Lena started talking to Paul, so I went over to Billy Sheehan instead. What a super-nice guy. He shows a genuine interest in every single person he talks to. He was very down to earth and easy to talk to. I asked him if it was possible to get a pass for Copenhagen as well and he said it could absolutely be arranged.
He was so impressed that I was going to see them twice… If he only knew how many times I’ve seen Skid Row…!
Went back to Paul after a while, cause none of the chicks gave a shit about him, so he was alone. Perfect – for me.
I asked a little about his education, considering he became a guitar hero already at the age of 16. He said that he finished high-school and after that he’s been educating himself to the best of his ability.
Then he got up with a smile on his face and went to get his bag.
– I’ll show you what I’m reading right now!
I thought it would be something silly, cause he had that look on his face, but it turned out to be a book about PHYSICS!
– I NEVER thought that you’d be reading a book like this! I said with eyes as big as plates.
– Well… I haven’t finished it yet, but…
His attitude was that, just because you’re a musician, it doesn’t mean that you have to be STUPID.
I asked him what kind of music he was listening to. Once again, he walked over to his bag, grabbed another bag and handed it over to me.
– You can see for yourself. I think I’ve got everything in there.
There was some “J.O Bach” (not J.S Bach!), Dee-Lite, AC/DC, Motown soul… All kinds of stuff. He wasn’t kidding when he said that he had “everything”…!
I asked him about his opinion of female musicians.
– Bonnie Raitt is one of my favorites. And Lisa, from Wendy & Lisa, Have you heard her?
I nodded and he was just about to ask me if I had heard this song…but I had to stop him there cause I didn’t own her record, unfortunately.
He loved Lita Ford (yey!!) and his favorite Lita-song was “Gotta Let Go“. And he liked Diana Ross as well.
Kept asking him stuff like there was no tomorrow! I wondered howcome he stopped writing for Guitar Player, and he just said he didn’t have time and that he had run out of ideas. He looked surprised, probably didn’t expect someone like me to be reading Guitar Player.
The band had to leave, so he got up and was about to give me a hug, when I jokingly said that if he hugged me, I would probably drop down dead. So he kissed me instead!
Uhhh – YES, I definitely hit the ground right after that. Lena went: “Miracles DO happen, huh?”
Jesus, yes – you could say that.
[there was a part two of this letter too – a LONG part two, but I will spare you.
Billy remembered the passes for the Copenhagen show the next day, bless him. :)
And yes, I met Paul there too. Awesome guy! I’m still a big fan of his – he rules!]
Nothing symbolises rock’n’roll like an electric GUITAR.
What would rock be without its guitar heroes, the axemen and axewomen who can speak through their strings – translate their inner musical visions through their fingertips??
My first guitarhero was YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. I loved, loved loved everything he did, from the early Alcatrazz-stuff, to his first Rising Force instrumental album and to my favorite “Trilogy” and up to “Odyssey” which was a fantastic album in my opinion. He had Joe Lynn Turner singing on it for gods sake, how could you go wrong?! :)
In a way, it was thanks Yngwie that I got my first job at the newspaper Kvällsposten back in 1988. He was coming to Olympen, Lund, to do a show with the Odyssey-lineup and I wrote to Kvällsposten several times, begging them to bring me along if they were going to interview Yngwie. I wanted to see a music journalist in action cause I wanted to be one one day. So to me it was a great idea to kind of do both – meet Yngwie and watch a reporter in action, all at the same time.
I didn’t get to meet Yngwie on THAT visit to Lund, but the next time he played – I was there to interview him – for Kvällsposten. :) By then, they had given me the job as their rock-reporter because they saw, judging from my letters, that I could write and that I knew my music…!
[One of my absolute favorites… Black Star.]
I thought he was a musical genious.
I mean – he was WILD on stage! He was like a super-model, striking 30 different poses in one minute, yet he would continue playing that guitar like nobody’s business, it was breathtaking. How could you do all that running and posing and headbanging and still play like a modern Paganini and make it look like a piece of cake???
Yngwie is the ultimate guitar hero in my book.
[From one of my first meetings with Yngwie – at Olympen, Lund 1989.
He wouldn’t let the photographer take any pics before he got a Rolex on his wrist!
He had a whole BOX of Rolexes that he wanted help choosing from!
As far as I know, this photo was never published, I got it from the photographer as a gift because it hadn’t been used. :)]
My next guitar hero was PAUL GILBERT.
I wish I could say that I “discovered” him through Racer X but I didn’t. I got the Racer X-albums later but it was the first Mr Big-album that blew me away.
I get all excited just THINKING about it! :))
Paul was – no, Paul IS fantastic! What I loved about him, and still do, is his very personal style. He can show off but he always does it tastefully, and he always has an element of entertainment in everything he does. I adore his goofy sense of humor.
It was always fun and interesting seeing him in a new video, or live shows or something – cause he always had those crazy pants, suits, shirts, and and guitars! I remember the one with the fringes – and he was talking about it in an interview – or maybe in one of his first instruction-videos. He was laughing while explaining why he liked the fringes – and suddenly it made perfect sense. It looked cool and it kept his hands dry!
[My copy of Guitars That Rule The World – with Paul Gilbert’s signature on it]
I collected EVERYTHING there was with Paul Gilbert. I loved his Jimi Hendrix-solo album cause he has such a cool singing voice too. But one of my favorite things was a silly little tune that he played on a CD called “Guitars That Rule The World“, released by Guitar World back in 1992.
It had other great players on it: Yngwie, Nuno Bettencourt, Reb Beach, Zakk Wylde (although I’m not a Zakk-fan) and Richie Kotzen to name a few.
Paul’s contribution was this very goofy, fun melody that to me is 100% HIM. Anything goes!
It was called “I Understand Completely” (even the title is very…. Paul)
Found these on Youtube – the actual tune and Paul explaining how the song came about.
I travelled all over the place to see Mr Big, and of course, it was for one reason – mainly – and that was Paul Gilbert. I was backstage with the guys a few times and I was shocked because back in those days, there was one “prop” that you would always see backstage with EVERY band that came through town: Groupies.
There were barely any groupies backstage with Mr Big, just very few that kind of “had to” be there for the image of the band or whatever. The only one who gave a flying fuck about them was Billy who politely talked to one chick that was dressed in a white leather cowgirl outfit. Paul didn’t give a rats ass, he was eating cereal out of the box. Eric Martin didn’t care either. Don’t even remember where Pat was.
These guys were 100% musicians, not interested in the groupie-thing. Eventhough Paul wrote the kind of self-explanatory song “A little too loose” about his “side step” with a chick in Oklahoma city, he just seemed so nerdy that he wouldn’t know what to DO with those chicks. He was a rock star – yet he wasn’t. He was a musician, all the way, and I admired him even more after that.
I believe in telling people if they do something that I like – cause we could all use more positive feedback in life, in general.
So…. I wrote to Paul when he was out on the road (back in those days, without internet, you had to buy a music mag, check the dates and venues, and then try to send it to the venue that seemed closest, where they would actually receive the mail).
One day, when I got home from work, there was a letter for me. From some hotel in England? It was from Paul!!
I was really touched- he took time to reply, it was the sweetest thing. I’ve had that in a frame ever since. That – and his guitar pick. :)
Saw Mr Big everywhere and Billy Sheehan was the one who ended up talking to me every time, cause Paul was a kind of in his own little world most of the time – which was okay by me, I loved his musicianship, he could be whoever he wanted to be offstage.
Then there were no more guitar heroes for a while. Except for a short Steve Vai-period during the “The audience is listening“-time. I loved his crazy Ibanez-guitars, the one with the hysterical, insane neon colors and the HANDLE! :)
Then…. I went to NYC back in December, which was a dramatic story just that – might tell it again someday but not now… I had tickets for Toronto too but since my friend Kevin couldn’t go and my other friend Shawn had to cancel in the last minute too, I figured what the heck, I’ll skip Canada and just concentrate on the Madison Square Garden-gig.
I just wanted to see my hero ROB HALFORD. That was the purpose of even going to the show. My plan was to just see a few songs with Ozzy and then leave. I’ve seen Ozzy a bunch of times through the years. He is a living legend, NOTHING he’s ever done has ever been BAD. I love all his albums and all that, but I was tired after the ordeal even GETTING to New York that day when LaGuardia was closed and I had to get there from Nashville and Washington D.C by car….!
So I was a wreck when I finally got to the show. Of course, Halford gave me my energy back, I was HIGH after his gig, I mean, what can I say…. The man rules.
The plan was to check out a few songs with Ozzy and go back to the hotel to get some sleep.
But……. Change of plans!!
Zakk Wylde was out of the band, which I think was about time, cause Ozzy needed something new and fresh. And he sure found it.
GUS G is the new, modern guitar hero. I was blown away and time just flew. Tired? Oh yeah, I just forgot that I was. I didn’t miss a thing of Ozzy’s show at Madison Square Garden, and certainly not one single note of Gus’ playing or antics on stage. Holy crap.
Suddenly, Ozzy’s show wasn’t the “same old, same old” anymore. It was new, refreshed, ALIVE, interesting. And it’s because of a 30-year old Greek guy with a “hair-fan” and his ESP’s…!
I haven’t really been a “fan” of anything for a few years, but I felt like an enthusiastic kid again. You get kind of jaded after a while – I mean, I still love my old heroes but it’s hard to get me into the new stuff because nobody quite sticks out anymore. I grew up with larger-than-life rockstars. Those are pretty much extinct.
Gus G has brought it back to rock’n’roll.
What I love about that guy is his ENTHUSIASM, his true love for what he does – you just can’t miss that.
The guy really lives for his guitar.
I enjoy the OzTV-video blog episodes, so I subscribed to them. Almost in EVERY video, you see Gus sitting around somewhere playing his guitar. Before the show. During the show. After the show. In his sleep?? :-D
He plays with passion.
You see him on stage playing, and it’s with such intensity that it’s as if he’s making love to his guitar.
Classy, beautiful, aggressive, technical, heavy, his fingers are so fast that you’d swear you’re watching them with a motion-blur!
I like this guy because he is genuine. There’s nothing fake about him. It makes me curious to find out what lies behind his sincere, pure passion for guitarplaying.
That show in NYC had me go to London with very short notice, to see his band Firewind. I wouldn’t care if he was playing with fucking JUSTIN BIEBER – I would want to go and see him play!
[one of my videos from the London-gig]
I wrote him just to ask about the London show and he wrote back almost right away. Very few people in his position do that. They are busy or lazy or both, and fans are gonna be there anyway, so why bother?
It’s refreshing with a musician that doesn’t have attitude-problems and who plays like he’s best pals with GOD. Or that other dude… downstairs! :)
My perception of this guy is very positive and a big Gus-fan from Canda, a cop who is absolutely nuts about Firewind and Gus, has the most fantastic things to say about Gus as a person. Actually, when I look around the web, the same thing keeps coming back in comments from fans: “He’s such a nice guy”.
He’s unbe-fuckin’-lievable on stage, plays like he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his super-talent – and … he is nice to people. What’s not to like about the dude? :)
I’ll be all over Europe this summer to enjoy Ozzy-shows. Gus G has already placed himself in the history-books as Ozzy’s guitar wiz, yet he doesn’t quite seem to get it yet. :) Watch this clip:
“People think I’m somebody famous….” :-D
The guitar symbolises everything that we love about rock – passion, love, hate, anger, strength – power!!
And the world needs its guitar heroes.