Exclusive: Guitarist Jason Becker, Who Suffers From ALS, Calls Ice-Bucket Trend ‘Amazing’

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By Christa Titus

Jason Becker, a former guitarist for David Lee Roth who has lived with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for 25 years, is thrilled to see what the ice-bucket challenge is doing in the fight against the disease.

“I love it. It is amazing,” Becker tells Billboard via phone from his home in Richmond, Calif. “At first I didn’t get it, but man, the awareness and money it has raised is incredible. I hope something great comes out of it for ALS patients.”

ALS has robbed Becker of his ability to speak or move. He communicates with a system designed by his father, Gary, where Becker uses his eyes to “spell out” what he wants to say by looking at letters on a letter board, and a caregiver says the words for him.

“I just can’t thank everyone enough for their support, especially during this ice bucket thing,” adds Becker. “Man, the love I feel is huge, and John Mayer, I love that guy.

Becker is referring to Mayer accepting his nomination to do the challenge (check out the video below). Becker had also nominated friends Roth and Eddie Van Halen after doing the challenge himself by having his caregivers sit a bag of ice on his head and another on his groin. (“It was annoying and made me not able to concentrate,” he says of the experience.)

According to Becker, Roth has donated to the ALS cause. Regarding Van Halen, he hasn’t heard from him, but “it doesn’t matter. Eddie has done so much for me. It is incredible how much he has helped me and my whole family.” Becker says Van Halen “saved” him and his family when they were having a major financial crisis, and he also got Warner Bros. to release Becker’s 2001 album Perspective. “So,” says Becker, “[Eddie] doesn’t have to get wet.”

When Becker, 45, was first diagnosed with ALS, doctors gave him only a few more years to live. Even more devastating: The guitarist had talent comparable to greats like Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen, and had just replaced Steve Vai in Roth’s solo band. But Becker defied medical odds by surviving decades longer than first predicted. He now composes music with the assistance of a computer program and collaborators. For example, three new tracks he wrote post-diagnosis are included on his 2008 album Collection. Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman, a friend of Becker’s since the ’80s when they were bandmates in the act Cacophony, guested on Collection. Becker has returned the favor by contributing to the song “Horrors” on Friedman’s latest solo album, Inferno. They wrote the song by swapping ideas via email.

“The way we did it was not too differently from the way we worked when we first met. He had ideas and had them recorded and sent them to me,” says Friedman of the collaboration. “I’m so pleased with how it came out, and Jason loved it. The response has been so great so far.”

Japanese TV station Wowow is now filming a documentary about Becker’s work on his next album. Becker says, “I have a few new songs. It is kind of like modern classical with a little Pink Floyd, and I have a cover of ‘Blowin in the Wind’ and a couple of new versions of my song ‘River of Longing’ with guest players like Trevor Rabin of Yes and [Joe] Satriani and more to be announced. [It will also have] a couple of my old guitar-playing songs.”

Fund-raisers have been held for Becker through the years, and the latest — Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet: 3 Music Festival — is set for Aug. 30 at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall to support the Jason Becker Special Needs Trust. The lineup includes longtime friends of his like Michael Lee Firkins, Steve Hunter and Winery Dogs member Richie Kotzen. The latter guitarist, like the other participants, makes helping Becker a priority: This will be the fourth time Kotzen has played a benefit for him.

“I’m leaving two days [after the event] to start a European tour, and I was actually worried that I wasn’t going to be able to participate,” says Kotzen. “But I made sure that I was able to move things around so I could be a part of it. It’s something important for me that I want to do.”

For more information on Jason Becker’s struggle with ALS, go to jasonbeckerguitar.com.

Article from: Billboard.com

Musician Jason Becker Calls Ice Bucket Trend ‘Amazing’: Talks John Mayer, Eddie Van Halen & David Lee Roth

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jason-becker

Getting sick of all these ice bucket challenges? Well, guitarist Jason Becker isn’t. And it seems like he has a good reason.

The former guitarist for David Lee Roth suffers from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and has done so for 25 years. He recently admitted to Billboard that he’s rather stunned by the incredible trend the ice bucket challenge has sparked, calling it “amazing.”

“I love it,” Becker said. “At first I didn’t get it, but man, the awareness and money it has raised is incredible. I hope something great comes out of it for ALS patients.”

He adds, “I just can’t thank everyone enough for their support, especially during this ice bucket thing. Man, the love I feel is huge, and John Mayer, I love that guy.”

His reason for calling out the Paradise Valley singer is due to Mayer’s recently posted ice bucket challenge, where he honored Becker –– beginning by finger-picking along with one of the guitarist’s tunes. The “Who You Love” crooner then continued to complete the challenge and re-nominated Becker’s original nominees of David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen.

Watch Jason Becker’s original ice bucket challenge below:

And check out Mayer’s:

According to Becker, Roth has donated to the cause. Van Halen, on the other hand, he isn’t too sure, but tells Billboard, “It doesn’t matter. Eddie has done so much for me. It is incredible how much he has helped me and my whole family.”
For more information about the ALS Association, visit their site.

Read this article at: www.MusicTimes.com

Jason Becker’s ‘Not Dead Yet 3′

Tickets: http://tickets.gamh.com/events/428328

This guitar-heavy bill includes Richie Kotzen, Michael Lee Firkins, Ben Woods and many more, reminding the world that Jason Becker’s Not Dead Yet.

Proceeds from the evening go towards medical supplies for Jason as well as a trust fund to provide for his future security.

Jason Becker, a onetime guitar prodigy first known as part of the metal duo Cacophony, was diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) at age 20, shortly after joining David Lee Roth’s band. Although the disease robbed him of his ability to play guitar – and eventually left him both paralyzed and unable to speak – Becker continues to compose music with the help of computers, collaborators, and a system of communication using eye movements that was devised by his father Gary.

NotDeadYet3

Musician Jason Becker refuses to let ALS silence him

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by Aidin Vaziri

September 16, 2013

SFGate

Jason Becker pictured in his home in front of five of his large guitar collection, two album covers painted by his father Gary.

Jason Becker isn’t supposed to be here.

More than two decades ago, just after the Richmond resident got his big break as the guitarist for former Van Halen singer David Lee Roth’s band, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, the incurable motor-neuron disease better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Doctors gave Becker three to five years to live. He was 20.

Even as he lost his ability to walk and talk, the baby-faced musical prodigy refused to accept his terminal prognosis.

“At the time, I didn’t believe that I couldn’t cure it,” Becker, now 44, said in an e-mail interview – which he is able to use through a system of blinking his eyes. “I was too young, and I had too much to do. I was living my dream and just kept on.”

Becker had to leave Roth’s band as his symptoms worsened to the point where he could no longer even hold his guitar. That’s when his story really began.

ALS is a rapidly progressive neurological disease that destroys the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord responsible for controlling muscles in the arms, legs, diaphragm and chest wall. It is always terminal, even for those who decide to go on life support.

“Jason’s doctor at the time he got his tracheostomy and stomach tube told me he would probably not make it past six months,” said Becker’s mother, Pat. “That was in 1997.”

The disease doesn’t affect Becker’s senses – the ability to see, hear, smell, taste and feel someone’s touch.

Please see the full photo gallery and continue reading at: SFGate.com

 

“Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet” DVD

When doctors diagnosed 19-year-old rock star Jason Becker with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, they said he would never make music again and that he wouldn’t live to see his 25th birthday. 22 years later, without the ability to move or to speak, Jason is alive and making music with his eyes.

“Jason Becker : Not Dead Yet” is a feature-length documentary film that tells the incredible story of a guitar legend who refuses to give up on his dream of being a musician despite the most incredible odds. It is a story of dreams, love, and the strength of the human spirit.

The film has been made with the full co-operation of Jason and the Becker family, who have given their consent for this to be the first feature-length documentary film about his life. They have provided their entire family archive of never-before-seen photos and footage.

DVD available for purchase for U.S. and U.K.

Click here to get info!

Jason Becker "Not Dead Yet" DVD

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