Jason Becker

During the 1980s, the rock & metal guitar world was raving about a certain young American guitarist. At the age of 16, Jason Becker and his friend & fellow guitarist Marty Friedman started the band Cacophony and released a couple of albums that focussed mainly on the shred guitar style of playing. But Becker absorbed every kind of music he heard; classical, Indian, Japanese, Native American, jazz, blues, rock – whatever he could find. He started performing at school and little coffeehouses from sixth grade on. By 1989, he left the band to do solo music but the same year he joined David Lee Roth’s band at the age of 20. This gig was very special for Jason since he was filling in the role that was previously done by two of his guitar heroes – Eddie Van Halen & Steve Vai. The next year he won the reader’s poll in “Guitar Magazine” as Best New Guitarist.

Soon he found that he had a ‘lazy limp’ in his left leg and went to the doctors. He was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS – aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and given three years to live. He later lost he ability to speak (since he could not move his mouth) and now communicates with his eyes via a system developed by his father. Although his ALS gradually robbed him of his ability to play guitar, to walk, and eventually even to speak, he still remains mentally sharp and, with the aid of a computer, continues composing. You gotta hand it to the dude; he doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘quit’.

Song for the day – “Seranna” – JASON BECKER

Penner is an Oiler

So the Anaheim Ducks didn’t match the offer to restricted free agent Dustin Penner for $21.5 million on a 5 year contract. They had till August 2nd to match the offer by the Edmonton Oilers and chose not to do so. Hence Penner will now play for the Oilers in Edmonton. He joins forward Geoff Sanderson, defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Sheldon Souray as significant upgrades after the Oilers lost Chris Pronger, Jussi Markkanen & Mike Peca before the start of last season & trading Jason Smith, Joffrey Lupul, Petr Sykora, Marc-Andre Bergeron & Ryan Smyth. The Oilers had a chance to sign Smyth back but did not do so, a move which they regret. The new signings will do much to pacify a rabid Oiler fanbase, within Edmonton & throughout Canada & the rest of the hockey world.