Way over 100 shows in 2012- a personal record!
I RSVPed for this event thinking it would be a total longshot to get on the list. Much to my surprise, I received a confirmation a few days later.
I got to Burbank a little after 1:30 not knowing what to expect. I imagined it would be a huge event with tons of attendees. I was greeted at the door by very friendly people and let into the studio.
Once inside, I was completely blown away. Billy’s basses lined the wall in seemingly chronological order from the beginning of his career to the newest Yamaha Attitude models he currently plays.
The next thing I noticed was there were only 3 rows of chairs, a few tables in the back (presumably for the SRO folks) and in the back corner, there was a bar!! YES!! I then had a look at the stage area.
I knew instantly that it was Phil X’s rig, which completely makes sense, seeing as though Phil is a fellow Yamaha endorsee and a monster guitar player to boot. At this point, I was completely ecstatic.
A projector was showing pictures, video clips and other highlights throughout Billy’s career. From Talas to David Lee Roth to Mr. Big and Niacin with a ton of stuff in between, it was really fun to watch. Billy then took the stage and did a Q&A with the crowd, along with some of his patented shredding. It was a lot of fun. Not only is Billy very intelligent, he’s also quite humorous and was incredibly gracious to the intimate crowd.
He introduced his guitar teacher, Joe Hesse. There was also a cool video that ran that gave some background and history of the student and teacher: http://www.wgrz.com/news/daybreak/article/181559/37/Unknown-Stories-of-WNY-Billy–Sheehans-Beginning Good stuff.
Billy talked about tapping (he mainly credited Genesis and ZZ Top as his inspirations to incorporate tapping into his playing style), basses, equipment, effects, bands, players, etc. etc. He really took the time to explain things and it was quite fascinating. He did a rundown of all the basses in the room and told some great stories along the way. At one point, he had a phone conversation through the microphone with a member of Grand Funk Railroad- that was pretty funny.
One of Billy’s fans made an exact replica of his first bass down to every last detail- down to the same skateboard stickers, broken knobs and every other detail. Apparently it wasn’t an easy project to obtain everything needed to do the job correctly.
Upon the conclusion of the Q&A and Billy playing and soloing , there was a tour of the facility. Getting to walk through and see everything going on at Yamaha was quite the treat. All the Yamaha staff took the time to explain things in great detail. It was a real treat to get so much good information about their products.
While cruising around a room full of guitars, I met Russ Miller- one of the top studio musicians/ session drummers in the world before he joined Billy and Phil onstage for a jam. He was really cool to talk with- totally nice guy.
Once the tour was over, everyone went back inside for the 3-piece jam (continues in more posts