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STEVE VAI says his European tour was 'probably a little premature' following latest shoulder surgery


Two years ago, legendary guitarist Steve Vai underwent shoulder surgery to repair an injury. That procedure was successful, enabling him to record his new album, “Inviolate”. However, in preparing for a U.S. tour in support of the LP, it became clear that another injury emerged that required another surgery.

Vai offered an update on his recovery while answering questions as part of Jonathan Montenegro‘s “My 3 Questions To” series. He said: “The thumb surgery healed in, like, a couple of days, really. Then I started to get a little trigger in my other finger, so I had to get another surgery. But my shoulder is okay. I had two surgeries. The European was probably a little premature, ’cause it didn’t do much good for my shoulder. But the American tour is doing great. And I feel good. It’s still healing; I’ve got probably three more months of healing.”

Steve previously discussed his physical issues in a January 2022 interview with SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”. He said: “Around December 2020, I did have to get surgery on my shoulder. I’m usually a totally healthy guy. I do take the holistic approach when I can, but 50 years of abuse playing the guitar, my shoulder just got to the point where I had to really get it checked out. And I got a wonderful surgery, and it healed. And it was funny because while I was healing, I couldn’t use my right arm, obviously; I was in a sling. And the sling was called a ‘Knappsack,’ because the doctor that designed it, his name is Doctor Knapp, and he’s the one that did the surgery. So I got home from the surgery and I couldn’t play with my right hand, so I actually recorded a song that I called ‘Knappsack’ with my left hand, and that made it to ‘Inviolate’.”

He continued: “I got through the pandemic recording the record. And the surgery healed quick and I was able to record the record. But I did something really stupid over the summer. (Laughs) This is crazy. Well, I have a pizza oven, and I was putting a pizza in the oven and the dough sticks on a little plate, and I had to jerk it really hard to pull it and I tore another tendon. And I thought I could get through the tour, but the tour is a megatour that we’re planning, ’cause I’ve been just dying to get on tour. And we’ve got, like, 250 shows that we wanna do around the world, and it’s gonna take, like, a year and a half. And once I started to prepare, it became really obvious that there was just no way. And the doctor said that ‘it’s only gonna worse and there’s nothing you can do. I highly recommend you get it fixed before you go out on tour for a year and a half or you’re gonna be in real trouble.’ (Laughs) So I said, ‘Okay.’ And the way that the tour is scheduled, it’s not so uncommon these days that artists are kind of moving blocks of dates around. And we just took the whole tour — the North American portion — and moved it to the fall, almost completely intact. So it gives me an opportunity to heal and get out there and kick some butt.”

When host Eddie Trunk told Vai that he must be a “serious pizza maker” in order to tear a tendon in his shoulder while making pizza, Vai said: “I wish I had a better story.” Steve went on to say that “it was the same shoulder but a different tendon” that he injured last year.

In February 2021, Vai revealed that he had undergone shoulder and trigger finger surgeries, explaining that his shoulder had been “screwed up.”

During an appearance on Tyler Larson‘s “Guitar Villains” podcast, Vai said that he sustained the finger injury by holding a tough chord for too long.

“I was doing this fun thing, and I had to put my thumb in this really weird position,” he said. “And I had to kind of hold this chord really for a long time — I was meditating on it. And I knew it was a hard position, and I just kept sitting there and playing it and playing and playing, and 20 minutes later, I’d kind of come out, and I felt pain in my hand. So I kind of sprained this, and then, all of a sudden, I developed trigger finger. My wife said, ‘Don’t show anybody,’ ’cause they did that operation and they cut in there, and the guy’s fooling around with everything in there, and it’s really bizarre. But it’s all fine — it’s something very simple that they can fix. But I won’t be able to play for a while.”

“Inviolate” was released in January digitally and on CD via Favored Nations / Mascot Label Group.

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