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Biography

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Jason Becker studied the works of violinist Niccoln Paganini and was a playing partner with Marty Friedman. He later composed a rendition of Paganini's 5th Caprice, performing it during an instructional guitar video. Becker's compositions often include high speed scalar and arpeggio passages, both of which are trademarks of his "shred" style of guitar playing. The song "Serrana", appearing in the album Perspective is an example of his sweep-picking skills. He demonstrated the arpeggio sequence during a clinic at the Atlanta Institute of Music. A video of this performance first appeared on his Hot Licks guitar instructional video.

Becker started out playing alongside Marty Friedman in the Mike Varney produced duo, Cacophony. Becker and Friedman toured together with Cacophony in Japan and across the United States. In 1989 Becker left to pursue a solo career, releasing his first solo album titled Perpetual Burn in 1988, and has since released Perspective, as well as two albums of demos entitled The Raspberry Jams and The Blackberry Jams.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

At the age of 20, he joined David Lee Roth's band, replacing Steve Vai, who went on to join Whitesnake. While recording the A Little Ain't Enough album and preparing for the subsequent tour in 1990, Becker began to feel what he called a "lazy limp" on his left leg. He was soon diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and given three years to live. He could barely finish the recording, using low-gauge (thin) guitar strings and other techniques, which would make it easier to play with his weakening hands. Although he managed to finish the album he did not join the supporting tour due to his inability to perform on stage; former Lizzy Borden guitarist Joe Holmes took Becker's place on tour.

He eventually lost the ability to speak and now communicates with his eyes via a system developed by his father Gary, The Eye Communicate Becker System. Although his ALS gradually robbed him of his ability to play guitar, to walk. and eventually even to speak, he still remains mentally sharp and, with the aid of a computer, continues composing. In the back of the Perspective CD case, Becker states "I have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It has crippled my body and speech, but not my mind." Now in his 30s, his medical condition has remained stable since 1997.

Perspective and the Berry Jams

In 1996 Becker released an album entitled Perspective, an instrumental album composed by him (with the exception of Bob Dylan's song "Meet Me In The Morning"). The writing of the music had been started before ALS completely crippled his abilities. By using guitar and later, when he was unable to use both hands. a keyboard, he continued to compose while his disease worsened. However, when Becker could no longer physically play even a keyboard, his friend and music producer Mike Bernesderfer helped him with a music-composing computer program which could read the movements of his head and eyes enabling Becker to continue to compose after he lost control of his entire body.

Several years later Becker released Raspberry Jams and Blackberry Jams, the first contained various unreleased demo-tracks and the latter contained demo-tracks and aitemate versions of songs that were later reworked and published into other albums.

Two tribute albums to Jason Becker have been issued. Respectively entitled Warmth In The Wllderness I and Warmth In The Wllderness II, they feature guitarists such as Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, Joe Becker. Rusty Cooley, and lMattias Eklundh. The album profits were sent to Becker to help him with his medical finances.

Future Prospects

Becker and the actor Matt Schulze are planning a movie about his life, titled End Of The Beginning. According to Becker's offlclal website, Fender and Charvel are going to make guitars for the movie and are planning to release a number of them to the public. Another film, Mr. Tambourine Men, is also in development.

Shrapnel Records will be releasing a Best Of Jason Becker album. Becker is currently in the studio working on two new songs for the album which will feature Marty Friedman. Greg Howe, Joe Satriani, Michael Lee Firkins, Steve Vai and Steve Hunter. The album will also feature older, never-heard songs/recorcllngs.

(Source: Official website, 13.1.2013)