Steve Stevens

Billy Idol
Floyd Rose Original

 Steve Stevens is one of the most gifted guitarists to emerge from the ’80s music scene. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on May 5, 1959, Stevens first picked up the guitar at only seven years old on the suggestion of Sunny Ochs, sister/guitar teacher of 1960’s protest singer Phil Ochs. Immersing himself in the great early 1970’s Brit guitar heroes like Beck, Page and Clapton, Stevens would eventually became an avid prog rock fan, especially the likes of King Crimson and Yes. Steve was accepted into the prestigious LaGuardia High School For The Performing Arts which the film Fame was based on.

Honing his craft while playing in Manhattan, Stevens recorded an unreleased album with his band, Fine Maribus for Island Records. That album was produced by Jimmy Miller of Rolling Stones fame. Steve was invited to play on Kiss drummer Peter Criss’ second post-Kiss solo outing, 1982's Let Me Rock You. Peter covered Steve’s original song First Day In The Rain for this album. It was also during the early ’80s that Stevens hooked up with ex-Generation X singer Billy Idol, who had relocated to New York in hopes of launching a solo career. Idol found the perfect foil in Stevens, and with ex-Kiss manager Bill Aucoin backing them, Idol’s career skyrocketed. Combining Idol’s punk and Stevens’ hard rock backgrounds with dance music, Idol became one of MTV’s early video stars, as such albums as 1982's Billy Idol and 1983's Rebel Yell became blockbuster hits — spurred on by Stevens’ inventive guitar work (and outrageous glam rock image).

In 1985 Steve traveled to France to record with the Thompson Twins for their album, Here’s To Future Days. He was also the bands guest (with Madonna and Steve’s friend Nile Rogers) to perform at the Live Aid concert. It took an extended period for Idol and Stevens to offer a the third album, 1986's Whiplash Smile, and although it was another big hit, Stevens longed to launch his own solo career, and exited Idol’s band by the end of the decade. Stevens also remained an in-demand hired gun, as he played on recordings by Michael Jackson (Dirty Diana-Bad), Ric Ocasek (This Side of Paradise), and Robert Palmer (Don’t Explain), among others. Additionally, Stevens appeared on the mega-selling 1986 soundtrack to the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun, for which he collaborated with keyboardist Harold Faltermeyer on “Top Gun Anthem” (which earned Stevens a Grammy Award for Pop Instrumental Performance that year).

In 1989 after being signed by famed producer Ted Templeman to Warner Brothers Records, Stevens formed his own group, Atomic Playboys. The early ’90s saw Stevens keep up his busy schedule, as he formed a new group with ex-Hanoi Rocks singer Michael Monroe, named Jerusalem Slim. In a strange twist of fate, Stevens then signed on to work with ex-Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil on 1993's Exposed. This saw Stevens & Neil as openers for the summer Van Halen tour. Many reviews stated that Steve was the best guitarist to grace the stage on many an evening. Stevens finally got his chance to show off his lifelong appreciation of prog rock when he united with bassist Tony Levin and drummer Terry Bozzio in the bombastic outfit Bozzio Levin Stevens, issuing a pair of releases thus far: 1997's Black Light Syndrome and 2000's Situation Dangerous. Around the same time, Stevens reunited with Idol, appearing alongside the singer on 2002's VH1 Storytellers, and also found time to issue another solo release, Flamenco A Go-Go. During this period he forged a creative partnership with Ben Watkins of electronic collaborative Juno Reactor. The duo’s composition, Pistolero, was chosen by director Robert Rodriguez for his film Once Upon A Time In Mexico. Stevens-Watkins songs have since been used in many major motion pictures. In 2008 Steve released the critically acclaimed instrumental album Memory Crash. In 2011 Steve Stevens and Billy Idol celebrated a 30 year partnership that is stronger today than ever.