Steve Vai turned up for his gig at the Teatro Metropólitan in Mexico City on 21 June and was greeted by the sight of a local guitarist playing one signature track For The Love Of God with a twist – he performed it on two electric guitars at once.
This, apparently, is Rafael Flores’ specialty. He is a dual-guitar legato master whose two-handed tapping skills are beyond reproach. Some guitarists might reach for the convenience of the double-neck; Vai certainly has on many an occasion. But not Flores. He just has two custom Ortiz Murcio double-cuts, equipped with a Seymour Duncan humbucker pairing, and makes the magic happen, juggling them both on their guitar straps.
As the keeper of the triple-necked Hydra, Vai, of all people, would acknowledge that. Game recognises game, and Vai, taking a video of the performance for Instagram, described Flores as a “wonderful man” and his take on the Passion And Warfare classic as a “lovely rendition”.
As Flores revealed in the comments, it took him three years to put it together. Vai is not the first guitarist whose material Flores has adapted for two guitars – sorry, two simultaneous guitars. He has reworked Always With Me, Always With You by Vai’s mentor Joe Satriani, and Something by the Beatles.
For The Love Of God is one of Vai’s best-known works. In 2012, he told MusicRadar that the melody came to him long before the rest of the track did. He got a rough version down, humming into a cassette recorder, and then revisited it some years later when putting together his sophomore studio album.
“Yeah, that’s a pretty good snapshot of what I do as a melody guitar player,” said Vai. “And it was just one of those simple, innocent moments that I think a songwriter has, when you are inspired it can come out at any time. I think people who are geniuses, it comes out all the time. But guys like me, I gotta wait until the moment comes. And I remember, it was in Stucco Blue Studios, and I was a young man – it was before Roth, before all that stuff.
“I was walking out of the studio. I had to go do something. There was an acoustic guitar sitting on the couch and I said, ‘I feel something. I don’t know what it is.’ And I picked up the guitar and just started playing these chords and singing the melody.
Vai likened the songwriting process to fishing, a moment of feeling out the fingerboard for where the next step of the melody would go. After he found that, got it down on tape, it lay dormant, only to come back and haunt him some years later, when he eventually revisited it and the whole track just happened.
“I heard the entire piece of music in my head,” he said. “All I needed was that much and the whole thing was there.”
Vai would go onto play For The Love Of God in his set in Mexico. He plays the final stage of his Inviolate South America Tour in Monterrey, Mexico, tonight, before returning for the US tour on 16 July, playing the Rialto in Tuscon, Arizona. See Steve Vai for full dates. Follow Rafeal Flores on Instagram.