Taught as a teenager by guitarist Joe Satriani because Joe was his neighbor, Steven Ciro Vai went on to join Frank Zappa's ever-changing band of musicians to play on some of Zappa's albums including Tinseltown Rebellion (1981) thru Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention (1986). During one of his terms with Zappa (there were many) Vai found time to issue his own album Flex-Able in 1984; while on the original indie label Akashic', the albums struggled but once he was taken up by Relativity' they sold like hotcakes.
Vai soon found himself in demand and got himself a part in Alcatrazz, briefly replacing Yngwie Malmsteen for a 1985 album, then took a spell in cinema by being the guitar playing Devil in Walter Hill's Crossroads, while also taking the time to lay down the guitar work for Public Image Ltd's Album set.
When David Lee Roth came calling, Vai answered on two albums Eat Em And Smile (1986) and Skyscraper (1989). While still a member, Vai would release his solo follow-up Passion And Warfare (1990) with Dave Rosenthal (keyboards), Stu Hamm (bass) and Chris Frazier (drums); it was an album featuring refreshing guitar slinging Hard Rock, it's reviews and pedigree guaranteed it the 18 U.S./8 U.K. it received. Sex And Religion (1993), a collaboration between his band Vai featuring Tim Stevens (bass), Devin Townsend (vocals), Will Riley (keyboards), Scott Thunes (bass), Abe Laboriel Jr. (drums), and ex-Frank Zappa vocalist Terry Bozzio, followed to a 48U.S./17 U.K. placement, then came Alien Love Secrets (1995) and Fire Garden (1996), both of which only charted in the U.K. Not to down play his brilliant guitar playing, it had nonetheless become clear that his album popularity was slipping and the follow-ups, including his collaboration with Eric Johnson and Joe Satriana on the live set G3 Live In Concert (1997) and his own The Ultra Zone (1999), failed to improve his prospects; the former not even being released in the U.K.