Jason Becker, the former guitarist for David Lee Roth who has lived with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for 25 years, is ecstatic to see what the ALS Ice-bucket Challenge is doing to help fight against the disease. Becker has been robbed of his ability to speak or move and communicates with a system designed by his father, Gary, where Becker uses his eyes to “spell out” what he wants to say by looking at letters on a letter board. Becker’s talent had him being compared to guitar like Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen at the time of his diagnosis. Initially he was only given a few more years to live, but he has defied the odds and surviving decades longer than first predicted, he still currently composes music.
“I love it. It is amazing,” Becker told Christa Titus of Billboard.com. “At first I didn’t get it, but man, the awareness and money it has raised is incredible. I hope something great comes out of it for ALS patients.”
Jason Becker took his own version of the Ice-bucket Challenge, but with ice bags placed on this head and body, since pouring ice water on his medical equipment wasn’t an option. Becker says David Lee Roth has donated to the ALS cause. Regarding Van Halen, he hasn’t heard from him, but “it doesn’t matter. Eddie has done so much for me. It is incredible how much he has helped me and my whole family.” Becker says Van Halen “saved” him and his family when they were having a major financial crisis, and he also got Warner Bros. to release Becker’s 2001 album Perspective. “So,” says Becker, “[Eddie] doesn’t have to get wet.”
Becker now composes music with the assistance of a computer program and collaborators. Three new tracks he wrote are included on his 2008 album ‘Collection.’ Becker’s good friend and former bandmate in the act Cacophony, Marty Friedman (Megadeth), guested on Collection. Becker returned the favor by contributing to the song “Horrors” on Friedman’s latest solo album, Inferno. They wrote the song by swapping ideas via email. To give or find out more about ALS, visit www.alsa.org.
On August 30th, Richie Kotzen will headline a benefit concert for Jason Becker in San Francisco, CA at The Great American Music Hall. Kotzen told Billboard, “I’m leaving two days [after the event] to start a European tour, and I was actually worried that I wasn’t going to be able to participate. But I made sure that I was able to move things around so I could be a part of it. It’s something important for me that I want to do.” This will be the fourth benefit Kotzen has played on behalf of Becker.