Am I the only knucklehead out there who has no idea who Stevie Salas is? All of my journeys down the proverbial cultural rabbit hole start innocently enough, and this odyssey was no different. My wife had never seen Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. No, I don’t know how this possible. In any event, towards the end of the movie George Carlin, in the role of Rufus, asks the lads if they would allow him the honor of letting him jam with them. Cut to a close-up shot of ‘Rufus’ absolutely shredding a guitar solo. I was curious who supplied the bodacious fretwork in the shot. Given the numerous Eddie Van Halen references, I thought maybe they had enticed the legend himself. As it turns out, the solo was provided by Stevie Salas. And he also provided all of the guitar licks and music throughout the film.
Stevie is quite a story. He is an Apache Indian from Carlsbad, CA. In his early 20s, he was discovered by the funkiest legend of them all, George Clinton, and served as his lead guitarist, before heading out on the road with Rod Stewart. This auspicious start, has lead to a 30+ year at the highest levels of the recording industry working with such household names as the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Justin Timberlake and T.I. From 2006 to 2010 he served as the musical director for American Idol and more recently, he has been the Advisor of Contemporary Music at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. For his efforts in support of Native American culture, Stevie received the Native American Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
In 2017, Salas served as the Executive Producer of Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World’, directed by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana. The documentary chronicles the major contributions to rock and roll history by Native American musicians. It has won a slew of awards, including a special jury prize at Sundance. I haven’t caught it yet myself, but it is available on a number of online outlets including iTunes and Amazon.