One of the most influential jazz fusion/Latin jazz guitarists of the past four decades, Al Di Meola first rose to fame in the mid-'70s with the supergroup Return to Forever and later received acclaim for such albums as Friday Night in San Francisco (with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia). Known for his complex guitar solos and captivating live performances, the musician/composer/producer, has explored a range of genres during his prolific 20-album career.
Al Di Meola background
Influenced by the likes of Elvis Presley and The Beatles, Al Di Meola knew early on he that he wanted to pursue a career in music. Before he turned 18, he became taken by Larry Coryell and his fusing of rock, blues and jazz; this led to Di Meola's obsession with multi-genre sound infusions, and eventually his career as an acclaimed jazz-Latin star.
He studied music at the Berklee College of Music, where he continued to explore fusion music and grow as an artist. Return to Forever pianist Chick Corea discovered the 19-year-old Di Meola and asked him to replace their guitarist, Bill Connors. This launched Di Meola's career as a mainstream artist.
Di Meola's first solo album, 1976's Land of the Midnight Sun, reached No. 13 on the Billboard Top Jazz Albums, and No. 129 on the Billboard 200. He joined guitar legend Carlos Santana on tour in 1980, solidifying his future as a Latin jazz staple.
Al Di Meola career achievements
Renowned and respected leaders have recognized Di Meola's influence in the music industry. In 1981, Guitar Player Magazine named Di Meola Best Jazz Guitarist in for the fifth year in a row, securing him a spot in the magazine's Gallery of Greats.
In 2015, the Montreal Jazz Festival awarded Di Meola the Miles Davis Award, an honor created to acknowledge an international and influential jazz artist for his or her entire body of work and contribution to the jazz community.
Di Meola has recorded with an eclectic mix of some of music's most influential musicians, including Phil Collins, Frank Zappa, Luciano Pavarotti, Paul Simon and Steve Winwood. His 1996 album release, The Guitar Trio, a collaboration with Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin, reached the Billboard No. 1 spot on the U.S. Jazz chart.