On March 21, Jason Becker, the guitarist/composer who has had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s Disease) for 30 years, underwent an operation to drain the abscess in his lung. According to his mother, Patricia Becker, “All went well and we are waiting on the lab results, but the doctor was encouraging and didn’t see anything concerning. Next stop, Tuesday for an echo cardiogram. Serrana says that is so they can determine the sex of the alien in his heart. And she is a nurse, so she knows. Jason sends his love and huge gratitude!”
Becker‘s story is one of brilliance, talent, determination, adversity, and, ultimately, triumph. A child prodigy on guitar, Jason rose to prominence as a teenager when he was one half of the technical guitar duo CACOPHONY, with his great friend Marty Friedman. In 1989, at only 19 years old and after wowing audiences all over the world, the young virtuoso became the guitarist for David Lee Roth, following in the huge footsteps of Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai. He wrote and recorded on Roth‘s third solo album, “A Little Ain’t Enough”, and was poised for superstardom when a nagging pain in his leg was diagnosed as Motor Neurone Disease (MND), also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the same condition Stephen Hawking lived with for over five decades. It is a fatal condition with a life expectancy of maybe five years. Maybe.
That was 30 years ago. He lost the ability to play guitar, walk, talk, and breathe on his own. But never lost his will to live or his desire to create music. Communicating through a series of eye movements with a system developed by his father, Jason spells out words as well as musical notes and chords. He imparts his musical vision to his team who then can input the notes into a computer, edit the parts to his exacting standards, and then generate charts for session musicians. His inspiring music and life story have been the subject of countless news articles, magazine cover stories, and an award-winning documentary, “Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet”.
Becker‘s latest album, “Triumphant Hearts”, was released last December via Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group. The disc features guest appearances by a who’s who of six-string gods, including Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Neal Schon, Steve Morse, Paul Gilbert and Joe Bonamassa.