Long Live Jason Becker
September 21, 2011 3:24 AM   Subscribe

At the vanguard of the neo-classical metal genre in the 1980's was the singular Jason Becker, a young guitarist who was known for his progressive compositions (slyt) and technical prowess (slyt; yes, that's a yo-yo; yes, he's yo-yoing and playing guitar at the same time). Following a stint in Cacophony with Marty Friedman and the release of his solo album Perpetual Burn, Becker was recruited by David Lee Roth to replace the departing Steve Vai on the upcoming album A Little Ain't Enough. Just one week after joining the band, Becker's meteoric trajectory was reversed in dramatic fashion with the diagnosis and sudden onset of Lou Gehrig's Disease.

His condition rapidly deteriorated and he soon lost the ability to play the guitar, walk, or speak; he is now confined to a wheelchair and communicates via eye movement (slyt). Despite these limitations, he continues to compose music with a specially modified computer program, and has since released Perspective (1996), The Raspberry Jams (1999), The Blackberry Jams (2003), and Collection (2008).

Becker is still widely respected by his contemporaries, who have produced two benefit albums (Warmth in the Wilderness I; Warmth in the Wilderness II) and continue to hold concerts to help him with his medical costs. A documentary (trailer [slyt]) about Jason's life, entitled Not Dead Yet, is tentatively set to be released in 2012. Until then, sate yourself with this mini-doc (slyt) and its followup (slyt) by a local news station.

Visit his official website (which cannot be deep-linked) for interviews, videos, galleries, memorabilia, news, donation information, and other goodies.

And now, without further ado, here is Jason Becker in all his glory (all videos slyt):
posted by troll (8 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Whew, had me there for a second -- I thought he had died. I can tell this post will be great fun to dig through.
posted by chavenet at 3:28 AM on September 21, 2011

Not Dead Yet.
posted by pracowity at 3:38 AM on September 21, 2011

Excellent post troll.
posted by three blind mice at 3:48 AM on September 21, 2011

Jason's music served me as an excellent guide to guitar playing years ago. Marty Friedman would grumble that he would need weeks to play some particular phrasings of Jason while Jason would grasp Marty's sense of melody and harmony way easier.

By the way, Jason also played in the first solo album of Marty Friedman, Dragon's Kiss. The sleeve even details the parts he played, but I don't have access to the album right now. He played here for sure though and here too iirc.

Since I somehow missed the playlist link...

From Perspective:

Life & Death
The End of the Beginning
Meet Me in the Morning
Serrana (studio)

And live Little Wing. Most of the live videos are from a VHS teaching tape of his iirc.

From his first album, Perpetual Burn:

Perpetual Burn (I spent a good while playing this; love it)
Mabel's Fatal Fable
Temple of the Absurd
Eleven Blue Egyptians
Dweller in the Cellar
Opus Pocus
posted by ersatz at 5:21 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's a little article by Marty Friedman (I don't think it's among the links above) that gives a sense of his esteem for Becker.
Actually, when I first heard about the idea to do a Jason tribute album, I said, "Who are they going to get who can even PLAY Jason's music??"
posted by Wolfdog at 7:09 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ah, the golden age of the Shrapnel label. Lots of great memories there. Thank you for this.
posted by jbickers at 7:18 AM on September 21, 2011

I confess to be left utterly cold by hypertechnical guitarists somewhat short on songwriting (Becker, Via, Santriani, Eric Johnson, Malmsteen, etc), but I also can't imagine anything more awful than an obsessive musician being losing the ability to play.
posted by uberchet at 8:43 AM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Fuck ALS.
posted by robstercraw at 9:15 AM on September 21, 2011

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