Marty Friedman Recalls First Impression of Jason Becker, Reveals What It Was Like to Work With Him

Cacophony, a short-lived project by Marty Friedman and Jason Becker, still serves as a great example of modern electric guitar virtuosity. Released through the legendary Shrapnel Records label, it kind of came up last-minute. As Marty Friedman revealed in a recent interview on the “Monsters, Madness and Magic” podcast, he was working on what would be his first solo record. But there was a change of plans (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar):

“Well, at that time, I was going to do my own solo record. I was asked by Shrapnel Records to do a solo album, and that was the biggest thrill for me. And I was gonna really try to make a big impression with this record.”

“I never worked that hard in my life on anything, because I knew if I was going to ever have a shot, this was going to be it. So I just kind of locked myself up and wrote and wrote and wrote, worked up millions of things that I could never do before, and just practiced and all that.”

Speed Metal Symphony

And then, the label introduced him to this younger yet incredibly talented and skilled guitar player. Fortunately, Marty and Jason got along from the very start:

“And then, right before I was going to record it, I met Jason. And I just fell in love with him not only as a person — when we jammed, he didn’t have a whole lot of super ideas yet — but one thing that stood out was anything that I did, no matter how exotic, weird, or orthodox it was, he could mimic it immediately and play it just as well as I did.”

Discussing Jason’s playing, Marty admitted that he was stunned at how different Jason was:

“I’ve never seen anything like that because I play very unusual lines and strange melodies. I never saw anything like that. I’m like, ‘Dude, what’s up?’ I thought, ‘If I’m never going to perform my music live, there’s no one else who can play these harmonies with me, but you. So why don’t we? I’ll carve out little spaces of this record for you to contribute, for you to play parts on this record. Instead of doing a solo album, let’s make this a band, and actually play this stuff live.'”

Sure, it might feel like a bummer not to have a solo album even though you planned one. But this was a win-win situation for Marty. Firstly, he got the chance to do this incredible project, which he believes, in hindsight, was a much better thing for him. Secondly, Marty got to do his debut solo record “Dragon’s Kiss” a year later, in 1988. Marty added:

“Because had I done a solo record, I’d never have found anybody to make a band out of it, it just would have been released and that would be the end of that. But I never thought that far ahead at that time, I just thought, ‘I’m making a record, shit!’ And that’s all I thought about.”

Marty Friedman-Jason Becker Black Cat Outro jam/Namida Tears/Blues

“And then when I saw Jason, I’m like, ‘We could actually do this in front of people.’ It pained me to throw away the solo album, but I thought [about] the big picture, ‘We’re going to play this in front of people, so what cooler guy to be doing it with than this guy who is just such a sweet guy, cool dude?'”

“And so much potential — he was just starting to reach his potential, he was growing so much faster than I was. And by the time our second record started happening, he was like a whole new player with millions and millions of great ideas. So it was a great partnership.”

During the same interview, Marty was also asked if he could recall at which point he started taking music seriously and considered it as a career path. He replied:

“Early, like 14 or 15, I got into a band right away and we played originals. Almost all originals and people showed up to watch us play. And it was so addicting.”

Cacophony - Jason Becker and Marty Friedman guitar duel - live in Japan 89 rare video

Interestingly enough, Marty felt like he wasn’t that special. A guy who’s one of the most influential guitar players in metal, praised for both technical skill and his incredible writing abilities, felt like he was just another dude playing his instrument. But he loved doing it nonetheless:

“I knew it was the only thing that I could probably get good at, even though I wasn’t any good at the beginning. You know, you look at other things that people are good at — people are good journalists, or they’re good writers, or they’re good students, or they can be a doctor or truck driver or mechanic. You have to have a talent for any of those things.”

“I didn’t see that happening. But I could see that I could make it through a song and I didn’t look like a dork when I did it — at least, I didn’t think so. I thought that I held my own within the band and had a natural sense about music, so I thought, ‘Well, I’m just going to keep doing this.”

Jason Becker & Marty Friedman jam

And, of course, money was not something that he strived for. It was all about music:

“No idea if I’ll ever make a cent from it, but at least it’s something that I can do. I can do this.’ I knew that I could do it, so I knew maybe around 14 or 15 that that’s what I was going to do.”

Photos: Hiroshi Yamazaki (Marty Friedman – 01), Paul Haggard


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.