By PAUL BIELATOWICZ
As British hard rock pioneers UFO prepare to bring their show to the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., on Oct. 14, guitar hero Vinnie Moore took time out to chat with Paul Bielatowicz about his life-long love affair with music.
The name Vinnie Moore was revered in guitar circles long before he joined veteran British rockers UFO. Moore began playing guitar at the age of 12, “I got my first guitar for Christmas. I was really into guitar bands and wanted to play because of Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore and Brian May.” However, his first encounter with the instrument almost proved to be his last, “It was much more difficult than I had expected, and I almost quit.” Thankfully, Moore persevered, “There was a love, and that kept me going. As I progressed it seemed to become easier and more natural. At about the two-year mark I got more serious and started practicing for a couple of hours a day. Soon after that I became obsessed, and at that point I couldn’t stop because the guitar owned my soul!”
Moore began playing in local bands and, a few years later, a major guitar magazine featured him as an up-and-coming star. It was this article that led to his first big break, “A production company in Los Angeles was casting for a Pepsi TV ad which featured a rock guitarist. They saw my write up in Guitar Player Magazine and gave me a call one January evening. The next morning I was on a plane to L.A. I went through the audition process and was chosen to do the music for 30 and 60 second versions of the commercial. It was just amazing for me, hearing my playing on national television a few times a day. The ad was a great kick starter for my career as it helped create a bit of a buzz before my first record came out.” The ‘buzz’ did the trick, and his debut solo album was a huge success – seemingly overnight, Vinnie Moore had arrived!
Over the years, Moore has enjoyed a long and varied career. “Being a solo artist, a member of UFO, playing with Alice Cooper, guesting on several projects… man, it’s all been great and I feel very fortunate. There have been many highlights but I think that maybe the journey itself has been the best part.”
Aside from his reputation as a performer, Moore has also earned a name for himself as a world-class teacher. His two tuition videos, released back in the 80s, provided guitarists with an insight to the closely guarded secrets of a virtuoso guitarist. Today, Moore is still involved in teaching – when he’s not on tour or in the studio he can often be found giving guitar master classes. Asked what advice he gives to students, he responds, “I think that love and passion are the most important things. If you have those first, then all the other things will somehow fall into place. Listen to as much music as you can because you will learn from it all. Find a teacher because that will help you learn things more quickly. And find a group of friends who play, because you will learn from one another. Just play as much as you can. I learnt a lot from my teacher, listening to records and from playing in bands with guys who were more accomplished than I was. But nothing helps as much as sitting in the bedroom and putting the time in.”
Speaking to Moore, it’s clear that his childhood love and passion for the guitar is still very much alive. He remains hungry for musical development and the continued perfection of his art, “If I didn’t feel like I was making some sort of progression I would probably quit. This is what keeps it exciting for me. Music is so incredibly infinite and there is always something new to learn and explore. It’s not something where you learn it all and then you’re done. There always seems to be something that you didn’t know about before; it’s amazing what can be done with 12 notes.”
UFO is a band with a rich heritage of guitar players – Michael Schenker (Scorpions), Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake), and bassist Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, The Winery Dogs) count among Moore’s predecessors. Moore has been a permanent fixture in their line-up for the past decade, appearing on four studio albums, including last year’s critically acclaimed release Seven Deadly that returned the band back to the charts. Although UFO boast a serious pedigree and have indelibly carved their name into rock history, one can’t help but notice their desire to have fun and enjoy the ride. This goodtime attitude is evident in their music and performance. Concertgoers can expect, “A lot of energy and inspiration. We do this because we still love expressing ourselves in front of an audience. The day that I don’t feel that, then I don’t want to do it anymore. We give every show our all and feed off the energy from the crowd. Song-wise you will hear something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”
With a career spanning 30 years and counting, Moore’s eyes remain fixed firmly on the future, aiming to, ”Continue doing what I love, keep being inspired and fascinated by music and keep playing for people.” With a new solo album in the pipeline, Moore’s hunger and love for his art continues to propel him forward on his musical journey, as he wows audiences worldwide.
Louis St. August and Gene D’Itria of the Revere-based rock band MASS, who received considerable airplay on MTV and radio with their single “Do You Love Me” in the 1980s, will open the show with a rare acoustic set.
The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets can be purchased online at www.narrowscenter.org, by calling 508-324-1926, or in person at the box office. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and during all shows.