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Paul Gilbert

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Rock Guitar Virtuoso of Racer X, Mr Big, and Solo Projects

Virtuoso Paul Gilbert is considered to be one of the fastest most technically proficient metal guitarists in the world.  He has toured the world as a solo artist and as a founding member of Racer X and Mr. Big.  The readers of GuitarOne Magazine voted him number 4 on the list of "Top 10 Greatest Guitar Shredders of All Time".  Guitar World ranks him in the 50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time list.  With Mr. Big Gilbert had a number 1 hit with the song “To Be With You”, five top 100 singles, and three Billboard Top 100 albums.  As a solo artist and song writer he has released 18 CDs since 1989.  He has recorded on the Atlantic, Warner Elektra, Shrapnel Records, Universal/Polygram, MegaForce and other labels. He is endorsed by Ibanez guitars.

Paul Brandon Gilbert, born in Carbondale Illinois in 1966, moved to Greensburg, Pa. at age two.  On his fifth birthday his parents satisfied his wish to be a Beatle, by buying him a toy Sears "Deluxe" all-metal guitar with suction-cup cable and battery powered cardboard amp.  Seeing that he was serious about music, they purchased him a Stella acoustic guitar a year later.  Paul took a few guitar lessons but quit frustrated with the "Mel Bay" method.  He wanted to play the songs of his favorite rock bands.  After his 4th grade music teacher drew a major scale on the blackboard, Gilbert taught himself to play a scale.  Finally making sense of the guitar he taught himself songs by ear.  He learned the heavy metal rock songs of Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and other hard rockers.   He played an electric guitar for this first time in 1997 when his guitarist uncle Jimi Gilbert let him play his Ibanez Destroyer.

Gilbert bought a used Les Paul Gibson and a Fender Amp and joined his first cover rock band PARADIZ in 1979.  Gilbert formed his own group "The Atomic Basement Band" that was later renamed "Missing Lynx".  They played songs by RUSH, Van Halen, and UFO, along with some originals.  Gilbert sent a tape of Missing Lynx to Mike Varney president of Shrapnel Records in 1982.  Impressed with Gilbert’s playing, Varnet wrote a spotlight column about Gilbert in February 1983 issue of Guitar Player Magazine.  At age 15 Gilbert formed a new band called Tau Zero and played Pittsburgh area clubs such as Stage One in Murrysville, Pa.  He met bass player Billy Sheenan for the first time when Sheenan played with the band Talis at Stage One.

Paul graduated at age 17 from the Greensburg Salem High School in 1984.  His mother wanted him to study Chemistry in college, but Paul was passionate about music and the guitar. With his parents blessing he moved to Los Angeles to attend the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT). Gilbert graduated from GIT 1985 and became an instructor at the school. He also won the LA Guitar Wars contest in 1985. 

At G.I.T. he jammed everyday with classmates bassist John Alderete and drummer Harry Gschoesser. Looking to form a group, Gilbert turned to Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records who helped him recruit singer Jeff Martin from Phoenix.  Thus in 1986 was born the group Electric Fence that later became Racer X.  The band played sold out houses in L.A.s biggest clubs.    

Paul, Jeff, John and Harry recorded the first RACER X album "Street Lethal” that was released on Shrapnel Records in 1986.  They followed with "Extreme Volume" album record live at The Country Club. One of Gilbert’s GTI students was guitarist Bruce Bouillet.  Amazed by his talents Gilbert asked Bruce to join Racer X.  Drummer Scott Travis joined the band replacing Harry Gschoesser who returned to his native Austria when his visa expired.  The new line-up recorded the 1987 Shrapnel Records release “Second Heat”.  The Allmusic Guide writes that “Second Heat” has “some of the most amazing dual-guitar work ever recorded”

Bassist Billy Sheehan, after leaving David Lee Roth’s band, contacted Gilbert asking if he wanted to form a band.  Gilbert left Racer X to form Mr. Big in 1989.  Signing a deal with Atlantic Records they released their first CD “Mr. Big” in 1989.  They toured the U.S and Japan where the album was a smash hit.  The found major success in 1991 with the release of the “Lean Into It” CD that included the number one hit “To Be With You” along with the songs "Green Tinted Sixties Mind," and "Just Take My Heart."  Mr. Big toured the world.   Mr. Big released “Bump Ahead” in 1993 and Hey Man in 1996.  In Japan they many sold-out tours released the Japan-only live albums as Raw Like Sushi, Raw Like Sushi 2, Japandemonium, Mr. Big in Japan, etc.). Gilbert left the Mr. Big in 1998 to pursue a solo career.

As a solo artist Paul Gilbert had has 18 solo releases.  Gilbert released his first solo album “King of Clubs” in 1998.  In 2001 he recorded the "Raw Blues Power" with his uncle Jimi.  In 2001 He also reunited with Racer X to record “Snowball of Doom - Live".  Gilbert lived in Tokyo from 2001 to 2003 and tours Japan frequently.  In 2009 he teamed with Pittsburgh’s Fred Nelson to release the CD “United States” and tour the Japan and Europe.  Gilbert reunited with Mr. Big in 2009 to record the CD “What If”.