GETTING MORE TALE #835: A Letter From Jason Becker
Jason Becker should need no introduction to you. Though his best known album is David Lee Roth’s A Little Ain’t Enough, he never shot to stardom like his predecessor Steve Vai. Instead Becker was struck with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Becker has steadfastly refused to give in, recording new music and being an inspiration to everyone suffering from neurological disorders. Though memories are now lost, in the mid-90s fans were asked via the rock magazines to send Jason some cards and letters of encouragement. Nobody expects the artist to send anything in return, but Jason Becker went to the expense.
They weren’t personal letters of course, but Becker went to the trouble of responding to everyone with a typed note about how he was doing. “Although I do read every letter I get, my condition has put such huge demands on my time and limited energy.” He goes into some detail on his treatments and status. At the time he could still speak but was unable to play guitar, using a computer to compose. He also mentions his solo album Perspective which was out in Japan but not the US. No domestic record label would back him due to his inability to tour or promote the album. He eventually put together an independent release in May 1996, but his condition was worsening.
That same year, Jason lost the ability to speak. His father designed a system that reads Jason’s eye blinks in order to communicate. It’s a remarkable story, and a painful one considering that Becker was a real guitar prodigy until his condition worsened.
Perhaps the coolest thing about the letter (aside from the fact that it exists at all) is that they taped a Jason Becker guitar pick to the corner. I had forgotten that I owned a Becker pick in my collection. I’ll keep it exactly where it is so it doesn’t get lost. Another neat detail is that Jason “signed” the letter with a thumb print.
Jason Becker is still making new music. His most recent album, 2018’s Triumphant Hearts, features all sorts of high-profile pals like Steve Morse, Joe Satriani, Trevor Rabin and many more. He refuses to give in and that in itself is the triumph.