For nearly 40 years, Steve Howe has been at the forefront of guitarists in popular music. Actually, simply referring to Howe as a just a guitarist is limiting. In addition to being a songwriter, he plays more instruments than just the guitar. If it has strings and a fretboard, Howe has mastered it and recorded with it at some point on one of countless albums he’s been a part of as a group member, solo artist and special guest.
As a teenager, Steve was influenced by the guitar generation and the excitement of rock ‘n’ roll. This led to his receiving his first guitar at age 12, a Christmas present from his parents. It was an an f-hole acoustic, which prepared him for his signature Gibson ES-175.
Following Steve’s involvement in several bands over the next few years, in 1970 he joined Yes, who go on to become one of the most influential bands of their time, developing a unique style of popular music.
Howe went on to be voted ‘Best Overall Guitarist’ in Guitar Player magazine five years in a row between 1977 and 1981 and was inducted into Guitar Player’s ‘Gallery of Greats’ in 1981.
Gibson Guitar Corporation, the maker of Howe’s second electric guitar (which he was still playing forty years later), said that Howe had ‘elevated rock guitar into an art form’ and ‘helped define a new style of music known as art rock.’ In a tribute to Howe and his personal favourite ES-175 guitar, Gibson produced a Steve Howe Signature ES-175 in 2002.
On top of this, Howe received further critical acclaim when Rolling Stone ranked him number sixty-nine on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all Time in 2003
In October, 1975, Howe released Beginnings,his first solo album. It featured Yes band members Alan White, Bill Bruford and Patrick Moraz and reached number 63 in the US and number 22 in the UK charts.
His second album as a soloist, The Steve Howe Album,was released in November, 1979. Howe played alone on half of the tracks, while others again feature White, Bruford and Moraz, along with vocalist Claire Hamill.
Since 1991, Howe has released a solo recording almost every year, ranging from acoustic to progressive to a Bob Dylan tribute. In 2001 was released Natural Timbre, exclusively with acoustic guitars. His son Dylan, now a respected jazz musician, played the drums on his 1998 all-instrumental solo release, Quantum Guitar, while Elements, released in 2003, featured both Dylan and Howe’s younger son Virgil (keyboards and vocals), as part of a project called Remedy.