At the Intersection of Preparation and Luck, a Guitar Riff Blasts
Megadeth’s former guitarist, Jeff Young, shares the power in changing MUSICAL lanes
“You know that old saying, ‘Success is when preparation and luck intersect’? Well, that’s exactly how the Megadeth gig happened,” said Jeff Young, former guitarist of Megadeth.
“In hindsight, it’s very clear. There was a series of coincidences and chance meetings that played into the universal design, or shall we say, the destiny of it all,” shared Young, who was a recent graduate of Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood at the time.
“I was in the right place, putting in a ton of hours every day, and my chops were up and ready when the call came.”
Young joined Megadeth in 1988 to play on what would soon become a platinum selling album, So Far, So Good…So What! What started out as a hired gun position turned into electrifying guitar solos and major tour to support the album.
“Everything happened so fast with the album and tour. I don’t think any of us were prepared, nor mature enough to appreciate that we were part of an epic, once-in-a-lifetime musical landscape,” Young said.
“We were fortunate to have a good rapport with MTV, combined with the opening slot of major tours for Dio and Iron Maiden. So Far, So Good…So What! helped us ride the last wave of rock with musical chops, before Nirvana and grunge rock hit. Nothing lasts forever is another valuable lesson I learned from this time in my life.”
Despite his obvious shredding ability, metal wasn’t the direction Young was going in when he picked up his first guitar. Although hard rock and metal played a part in his passion to make music a career, he had his sights set on a different sound.
“My initial intent was more along the lines of the major session cats like Steve Lukather (Toto), Michael Landeu (James Taylor), or my favorite fusion players, Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs), Shawn Lane, and Allan Holdsworth,” Young said. “I wouldn’t trade how things played out, for the world, though. I really got to expand my musical palette, plus learned first-hand how the industry works. The metal genre provided the knowledge I needed to understand how the musical landscape works as an independent artist.”
Life after Megadeth turned into a time for Young to explore new sounds and outlets.
For years, Young penned the cult-classic "Fingerprints" column in Guitar for Practicing Musicians magazine. He also resurfaced with a new Brazilian musical partner, Badi Assad. He soon would find the work he co-wrote, co-produced and created topping the world beat charts across the globe with the release of Chameleon.
“It’s sometimes a drag being stereotyped as a ‘metal’ guitarist, when it’s only a fraction of what I do,” Young said.
Young and Assad went on to open for many artists including Joe Cocker and Cassandra Wilson. They also performed at 1999’s Lilith Fair and the 2000 Farm Aid.
In 2009, Young stepped out on his own and released his first solo album, Equilibrium. It's filled with flamenco, classic, six- and 12-string guitar styles intertwined with electric guitar - a far cry from metal.
JEFF YOUNG TODAY
Jeff Young continues to create, record, and perform. Continuing along the same eclectic musical progression, Young released a single titled “Monsoon” this year.
Like most artists, Young uses the power of YouTube to broadcast his own creations and interpretations. In fact, this past year, Young released a video with his rendition of The Beatles “Something,” a song celebrated on the band’s Abbey Road.
“I’ve performed 'Something' with a couple of singers in the past. This arrangement and concept of a Hendrixy, instrumental interpretation really spoke to me,” Young recollected. “The Beatles ’65 album was the first record my folks ever bought for me. They are a band I’ve always enjoyed and the song is so universal, yet this arrangement is unexpected.”
Young has also added podcasting to his talents. Every Tuesday at 7:11 p.m. Eastern, Young uses his love for music and passion for fusing together music genres to create a unique space for fans on his Music WITHOUT Boundaries podcast.
“I’ve always enjoyed listening to diverse cultures and styles of music,” Young shared. “Many of the licks I played on So Far, So Good…So What! were derived from Flamenco and Gypsy music. I think combining cultures and different genres of music is where the fresh, exciting music of the future is born.”
“One of the best things people can teach us is that we have much more in common than the mainstream media would have us believe,” Young said. “The more you tour the world, the deeper you dive into musical study, the more you realize Bob Marley was right all along – WE ARE ALL ONE.”