Steve Stevens

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Steve Stevens.
Steve Stevens.



Born in Brooklyn, New York on May 5th, 1959, Steve Stevens is a Songwriter and Guitarist. His real name is Steven Schneider.
As a Guitarist he is more well known for his position in playing alongside such people as Billy Idol, Michael Jackson and Motley Crue's Vince Neil.
Although he has also performed in his own, critically acclaimed, solo projects, notably Flamenco-a-go-go and The Atomic Playboys and also collaborations such as:- Bozzio Levin Stevens, a.k.a. Black Light Syndrome.
He is still sought after and held in high regard as a Session Guitarist.


Steve originally started his musical journey by studying Guitar as a Music Major at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts in New York. He graduated there in 1977.
Two years later, in 1979, he was playing with a singer named Ray Melnik in a band called One Hand Clap. They were playing six nights a week on the Long Island Club circuit and did this for about a year.
Their next venture was to move to New York where they joined The Fine Malibu's who resided and rehearsed in their Loft on West 30th Street.
The Fine Malibus.

It was at this point that they were noticed by a Producer named Jimmy Miller (who had produced some of the early Rolling Stones Albums) and he arranged for them to record at Compass Point Studio in Nassau at the expense of Chris Blackwell and Island Records.

Steve with Billy Idol
Steve with Billy Idol

In 1981 they spent two months in the Nassau studios recording an eponymous titled Album for Island, although this never gained release. They even played a Live Show whilst on the island. Whilst at Compass Point, Steve managed to meet one of his favourite vocalists Robert Palmer. Shortly after their return Steve was introduced to Billy Idol (formerly of English Punk Rock Band 'Generation X')by the manager of the Fine Malibu's.
This collaboration started when Billy Idol decided to move to the USA after the split of Generation X and produced three hit Albums, namely Billy Idol (1982), Rebel Yell (1984) and Whiplash Smile (1986) and the 1985 release Vital Idol, an album of remixes.
Billy and Steve parted ways soon after the release of Whiplash Smile citing 'Musical Differences' as the reason for their split. These 'differences' can be clearly recognised as Steve's very Jazz inspired Guitar work on Man for all Seasons.
Following their split Steve was approached to play for Michael Jackson on the track Dirty Diana:-

The Atomic Playboys, Vince Neil and Michael Monroe.

It was at this time that Steve was also working on his first solo project and in 1989 he released 'Atomic Playboys' which received favourable critical response and even managed to sell a few copies!!! In 1991 he worked with Michael Monroe (formerly of Hanoi Rocks) and together they released the Album Jerusalem Slim (1992). This recording was only released in Japan though, where Hanoi Rocks still enjoy success to this day!!!
The following year, 1992, Steve was asked by Vince Neil of Motley Crue to join himself (Neil), Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw (both of the band Damn Yankees) and record a single for the film Encino Man. The track was entitled 'You're Invited But Your Friend Can't Come'!!! Vince had put together a band for the purposes of recording this track and this was when Steve was asked to come and play Guitars on the recording.
In 1993 Vince Neil signed a $4million deal with Warner Brothers and asked Steve back to record on hi album. Steve agreed and the result was that he played both Guitars and Bass on the record. The record, 'Exposed,' was released on April 27th 1993. It reached #13 on the Top 100 but it was soon slipping down the Charts, although three singles Sister of Pain, Can't Have Your Cake, and the aforementioned You're Invited But Your Friend Can't Come were semi-successful.
This album was really a Motley Crue style West Coast Rock affair and sold somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 copies. The band then supported Van Halen on their 1993 Tour and embarked upon their own tour through the end of 1993 and into 1994.Once this tour was over Steve decided to quit the band.

Steve recorded his next solo effort entirely by himself in his Home-studio. It was called 'Flamenco-a-go-go' and was inspired after having seen a concert by Paco de Lucia, the Flamenco virtuoso!

Steve has worked with a huge array of other artists over the past few years. These include some diverse and varied musical avenues and directions and include such musical luminaries as:- Thompson Twins, Joni Mitchell, Peter Criss, Steve Lukather, Ric Ocasek, Ben Watkins of Juno Reactor, Greg Bissonette, Pink, Jill Jones, Robert Palmer, Jizzy Pearl, Terry Bozzio and Tony Levin (releasing two albums under the name Bozzio Levin Stevens) on Magna Carta Records.

In 1999 ASteve reunited with Billy Idol for a series of Concerts in Australia and the US which were recorded and released on CD and DVD as part of the 'Storytellers' shows on VH-1. He also appeared in an episode of 'Behind the Music' which was a look at Billy's career.
This new collaboration with Billy was so successful that in 2005, along with their longtime Producer Ken Forsey, they decided to record together again, The result was Billy Idol's Devils Playground and, since 1986's Whiplash Smile, was the reunion of the three. Also touring with them at this time was Keyboard player Derek Sherinian, Steve went on to co-write and perform on three songs from Derek's 2004 Mythology album.
It may come as a surprise to some, but Steve has quite a large following in Japan where he has worked with Kyosuke Himuro, one of Japans leading Rock singers. First appearing in 1996 with him on the hit single Native Stranger. Steve also acted as Guitarist, Arranger and Songwriter on Himuro's IˑDeˑA Album in 1997.

In 1987 Steve, along with Film Score Composer Harold Faltermeyer (Writer of the 'Axel F' Theme from the Beverly Hills Cop films), won a Grammy Award for their theme and his playing on the theme from the movie Top Gun.

Theme from Top Gun.

Steve's song Power of Suggestion( track #2 on Atomic Playboys) was used for the intro sequence during the rolling of cast and credits of 1994's Ace Ventura Pet Detective.

Equipment, Endorsements and Effects.

In 1981, whilst in The Fine Malibus Steve became an Endorser for Hamer Guitars. Hamer was still based in Chicago at that time and in the mid 80's produced a Steve Stevens Signature models. They were designated Model I and II. They were similar in shape to a Les Paul Junior, with a double cutaway Body of Honduran Mahogany. They had Set Necks, Floyd Rose Tremolos with a humbucker and a Single Coil in the Model I and a H-S-S Pickup configuration in the Model II. Another interesting part of the design of the Model I was the fact that the treble sides of the Pickups were angled away from the bridge slightly. They were available in various finishes including a 'Pink Sparkle' and 'Snakeskin' as can be seen below!
When Steve split with Billy Idol he also finished his relationship with Hamer. He had often been photographed playing Les Pauls and became one of their Endorsers. He had used them to record with Billy Idol and also on The Atomic Playboys recordings and continued using them through into the early 90's. At this time Steve began work with Washburn's Custom Shop to produce the Steve Stevens Signature Series. The Series was made up of three different models, two of which were produced in the Custom Shop (The SS80 and SS 100) and the other being mass-produced in Korea (The SS40).
The specs for the SS80 and the SS100 were identical except for the finish on them. The SS80 (top image) was produced in a Black finish with Gold Hardware whilst the SS100 had a White front with a 'Frankensteins Monster' graphic airbrushed on the front. These particular instruments are now very rare. As with his Hamer models the treble side of the Pickups was angled away from the Bridge. Both SS Models had Poplar bodies, Schaller Licensed Floyd Rose Tremolos, Seymour Duncan JB Pickups (with gold plated pole pieces on the SS80) and an R2 Nut. Steve had been an endorser of Seymour Duncan earlier in his career along with Dean Markley strings.
The necks were all Quarter Sawn Rock Maple with a Walnut 'Skunk Stripe'. They had 22 Frets (Dunlop 6110 Fretwire) and Pearl Dot Inlays. There are some rare SS80 first run models that have an unfinished Headstock with a 'Monster' style Washburn Logo. Later Models had a colour-matched headstock with the same Logo.
Late Model SS80 with the 'Monster' Logo.

In 1993 Steve played his signature Washburn at the NAMM Show and also used them in the Video's for the Vince Neil Band, but by the time they started the Tour with Van Halen he seemed to have parted company with Washburn and was using Ernie Ball Musicman models that had apparently been given to him by Eddie Van Halen.

More recently Steve has collaborated with Bareknuckle Pickups and the outcome of this is the Rebel Yell Model. These are available with his trademark 'Rayguns' etched in the top!!

Steve is currently using Gibson Les Pauls again. His are fitted with locking Tone Pros Bridges. He is also using a Gold Framus Panthera also with a Tone Pros Bridge.

As of October 2009 Steve is an official Endorser of VL Effects Custom Shop, a small boutique Effects Pedal munufacturer based in Paris. He is using their Bullitt Booster Fat Vintage model.

Steve's current Touring Rack is a rather complicated affair, comprising of an Effects Rack, several Pedal Boards, a Preamp Rack, a Power Amp Rack and Cabinets!


Lessons with Steve.


Solo albums
The Guitar World According To Steve Stevens (1986 cassette from the music magazine Guitar World)
Atomic Playboys (1989)
Akai Guitar Sample Collection (1994)
Flamenco A Go-Go (1999)
Memory Crash on Magna Carta Records (2008)

Albums with Billy Idol
Billy Idol (1982)
Rebel Yell (1983)
Whiplash Smile (1986)
Vital Idol (1987)
Idol Songs: 11 of the Best (1988)
VH1's Storytellers: Billy Idol (2001)
Behind The Music (2002)
Devil's Playground (2005)
The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself (2008)

Albums as a member of Bozzio Levin Stevens
Black Light Syndrome (1997)
Situation Dangerous (2000)

Billy Idol - "Hot in the City" (1982)
Billy Idol - "White Wedding" (1982)
Billy Idol - "Rebel Yell" (1984)
Billy Idol - "Eyes Without a Face" (1984)
Billy Idol - "Flesh for Fantasy" (1984)
Billy Idol - "Catch My Fall" (1985)
Harold Faltermeyer & Steve Stevens - "Top Gun Anthem" (1986)
Billy Idol - "To Be a Lover" (1986)
Billy Idol - "Don't Need A Gun" (1987)
Billy Idol - "Sweet Sixteen" (1987)
Billy Idol - "Mony Mony (Live)" (1987)
Michael Jackson - "Dirty Diana" (1987)
Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys - "Atomic Playboys" (1989)
Billy Idol - "Speed" (1994)
Juno Reactor - "Pistolero" (1999)
Juno Reactor - "Hotaka" (2002)
Billy Idol - "Scream" (2005)
Billy Idol - "John Wayne" (2008)

Other Recordings
Peter Criss - Let Me Rock You (1982)
Thompson Twins - Here's to Future Days (1985)
Ric Ocasek - This Side of Paradise (1986)
Simon F - Gun (1986)
Michael Jackson - Dirty Diana (1987)
The System - Don't Disturb This Groove (1987)
Jill Jones - Jill Jones (1987)
Joni Mitchell - Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm (1988)
Steve Lukather - Lukather (1989)
Robert Palmer - Don't Explain (1990)
McQueen Street - McQueen Street (1991)
Jerusalem Slim - Jerusalem Slim (1992)
Vince Neil - Exposed (1993)
Scooter - Our Happy Hardcore (1994)
Adam Bomb - New York Times (1997)
VAS - Offerings (1998)
The Outpatience - Anxious Disease (1999)
Kyosuke Himuro - Beat Haze Odyssey (2000)
Andy - And My Heart (2000)
Gregg Bissonette - Submarine (2000)
Juno Reactor - Shango (2000)
Simon Shaheen - Blue Flame (2001)
Faudel - Samra (2001)
Todd Rundgren - With a Little Help from My Friends (2003)
Pink - Try This (2003)
Jizzy Pearl - Just a Boy (2004)
Derek Sherinian - Mythology (2004)
Madrugada - The Deep End (2005)
Tony Levin - Prime Cuts (2005)
Dug Pinnick - Strum Sum Up (2007)
Juno Reactor - Gods & Monsters (2008)
Tim "Ripper" Owens - Play My Game (2009)

Various Collections
Top Gun - OST (1986) with Harold Faltermeyer
Guitar's Practicing Musicians Vol.2 (1991)
Speed - OST (1994) with Billy Idol
Crossfire - A Salute To Stevie Ray Vaughan (1996)
Twang!: A Tribute To Hank Marvin & the Shadows (1996)
Merry Axemas Vol.2 - More Guitars For Christmas (1998)
Sounds Of Wood & Steel Vol.1 (1998)
Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) with Juno Reactor
Butchering The Beatles: A Headbashing Tribute To The Beatles (2006) with Billy Idol
Magna Carta Guitar Greats Vol.1 (2007)
Catacombs - OST (2007) with Shawnee Smith

--Sensible Jones 15:53, 21 October 2009 (CEST)