Steve Stevens is an American guitarist and songwriter best known as a frequent collaborator of popular singer Billy Idol. Born and raised in New York City, Steve got his first guitar when he was seven years old. While he was growing up, the country music scene was at its peak and Steve played acoustic for many years, before he got his first electric guitar at the age of 13. He eventually became associated with the progressive rock scene in New York City and became accustomed with many bands, such as Yes and Emerson. During the same time, in the early 1980s, Steve came in touch with Billy Idol and those two embarked on hugely successful collaborations. Some early albums such as ‘Billy Idol’ and ‘Rebel Yell’ became international hits. By the late 1980s, Steve embarked on a solo career and went on collaborating with many other successful artists such as Michael Jackson, Robert Palmer and Thompson Twins. Other than releasing his solo albums such as ‘Memory Crash’ and ‘Flamenco a Go-Go,’ he recorded soundtracks for films such as ‘Speed’ and ‘Top Gun.’ For the latter, he ended up winning a Grammy Award.
Childhood & Early Life
Steve Stevens was born Steven Bruce Schneider, on May 5, 1959, in Brooklyn, New York City. Soon after he was born, his family moved to a place in Queens, named Far Rockaway, which was nearby a beach where Steve spent a lot of time as a kid. Ever since he was young, he frequently attended concerts with his brother and father.
His father was an ardent music lover and also played guitar as an amateur. When Steve was 7 years old, his father brought a guitar, which came with a booklet of instructions of how to play the instrument.
Hence, by the time he was 8 years, he began learning guitar all by himself. He was also hugely influenced by the country music scene that had exponentially grown in New York at that time, with singers such as Bob Dylan had already becoming legends and national icons.
Steve frequented a nearby beach where he saw many youngsters playing rock music. He would sit there for hours at a stretch and became further more interested in the prospect of becoming a musician.
From his locality emerged a local singer named Phil Ochs, who was a local icon in NYC. Steve began taking guitar lessons from Phil’s sister. He got his first electric guitar when he was 13 years old and with a solid base in playing acoustic, he further improved his craft. Ever since he was a teenager, he played in many different local bands until eventually, he began playing professionally.
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He eventually enrolled into the High School of Performing Arts in order to further hone his musical skills. Right around that time, there was a fresh trend of new wave bands that were emerging from Manhattan. Steve dropped out of high school to become a part of that rage.
He played with many local bands throughout the late 1970s, he particularly stayed the longest with the band named Fine Malibus. He also recorded his first professional album with the band, but it unfortunately never saw the light of the day.
By the early 1980s, he had become an in-demand guitarist who got in touch with many up and coming musicians. One among them was Peter Criss, who collaborated with Steve on his album titled ‘Let Me Rock You.’ Apart from playing guitar, Steven also stretched his writing muscles and received credit for writing the single titled ‘First Day in the Rain.’
When his stint with Peter was over, Steve came in touch with Billy Idol in 1982, the lead singer of the famous band Generation-X. The two began working together and their partnership became iconic. Billy had come back to his native city NYC and was preparing to launch a career as a solo singer when he became acquainted with Steve.
Billy’s punk and Steve’s hard rock sensibilities married together to bring out many musical masterpieces, beginning with Billy’s debut solo album titled ‘Billy Idol.’ The album went on becoming a massive critical and commercial hit and established Billy as a hit solo artist.
In 1983, Billy released a second album titled ‘Rebel Yell,’ which repeated the success story of the debut solo album. With back to back successes, the duo of Billy and Steve became iconic and they performed together in many concerts around the country.
Their third album took some time and was released by the title ‘Whiplash Smile’ in 1986. The album was yet another big bit. Although he had given three major hit albums with Billy, Steve decided to explore opportunities as a solo musician and parted ways.
Despite the fact that he struggled to get a chance to record his solo album, Billy had already conjured up a great reputation, which led many successful musicians wanting to do collaborations with him. He played guitars for musicians such as Michael Jackson, Robert Palmer and Thompson Twins.
He also played guitar for the theme of 1986 film ‘Top Gun,’ for which he won a Grammy Award. He ended up forming his own group named Steve Steven’s Atomic Playboys, and released his first solo album titled ‘Atomic Playboys,’ but the band could not survive. In the 1990s, Steve further tried to work in several collaborations, but nothing worked.
In the late 1990s, he set up a band and released two albums titled ‘Black Light Syndrome’ and ‘Situation Dangerous.’
Without attaining much success as a solo artist, he reunited with Billy Idol in the early 2000s and they appeared together on ‘VH1 Storytellers.’
Family & Personal Life
Steve Stevens has been known for his eccentric antics on stage and his unique look, sporting long straight hair.
Steve has been in relationships with Jill St. Marks and Regina Russell Banali. He was also married to Marlene Passaro in the 1990s. They later divorced.
Steve married model Josie Stevens in 2008 and the couple has been together ever since.