At a time when young women by and large did not play the guitar, my father took me under his wing without indicating in any way that my interests were unusual. As a result I developed a confidence in and awareness of myself as a musician long before I was exposed to some of the realities that faced and still face the women in my field.
I owe my father a great debt of gratitude for this, and when I think of him it is impossible for me not to think of this amazing instrument, the miracles that it has worked in my life,
and what the guitar meant to both of us as fans of its music and students of its craft.
Beyond being the tool that keeps a roof over my head, the guitar seems to me a symbol of independence, of self-discovery and self-expression, and of the fact that it truly is possible for each of us to live in the world we create. It has been a solace and source of inspiration to ‘outsiders’ of almost every generation, a voice of protest for those who need to be heard, an expression of unity, for those seeking common ground, and a tool of education that has reached thousands of people whose ways of thought
fall just a little bit beyond the norm.
Above all this, because of the way it is constructed and the varieties of music that it calls home, the guitar truly is for anyone who has the desire to pick it up and play.
The guitar is an instrument that belongs to the people. Every last one of us. As a result it lives and breathes in folk music, in jazz, in pop, in the blues, and at the very heart
of rock & roll.
My father is perhaps the most perfect representation of what the guitar means that I have ever known. Here is a man who never went to music school—a man who taught himself to play beautifully and then, looking at what he learned, figured out how to take this information and share it with others. He did this selflessly, joyfully, and arguably at the expense of his own critical success. Here, also, is a man who came up through the tradition of the instrument as that tradition was created, who had brushes with fame alongside Buddy Holly, who remembered the earliest Fender amplifiers and guitars, who took the time to look at the guitar as it ascended into the pantheons of popular culture and ask an essential question: How does all this really work, and why?
When he was behind his instrument, Steve was a force of nature. But the thing that strikes me most upon reflection is the fact that, in his daily life, he was a flawlessly gentle and giving human being. He is unique, perhaps, in his conviction that the information that led to his successes also belonged to everyone he met along the way.
Below is some rare footage of our time spent together as a musical family, recorded in 2011 in honor of John McLaughlin, who has shaped both Steve's and my playing beyond compare. I look forward to continuing this journey toward understanding with each and every one of you.