STEVE VAI Remembers Bassist RANDY COVEN - "We Used To Try To Play The Hardest, Weirdest, Funnest Music We Could"
August 9, 2014, 4 years ago
On May 20th, bassist Randy Coven passed away of undisclosed causes at the age of 54. Guitar HD recently spoke with guitar legend Steve Vai, one of Coven's classmates at the Berklee College Of Music, who remembered Coven fonfly. An excerpt from the tribute is available below:
Vai: "College is such an important part of your life. It’s an important time in your life because you’re meeting new people, you’re young, you’ve got the whole world ahead of you and your whole life ahead of you, you have dreams and hopes…so you can create a bond with people that’s very special. It’s like looking back at high school friends or something.""So, Randy and I did a lot of things together. It’s just funny how we just communicated and then when he started playing with the band I thought, MAN, this is too good to be true! And he was just so amicable and ready for any challenge whatsoever. We used to just try to play the hardest, weirdest, funnest music we could."
"I remember we would wait on line in the morning, because you had to wait on line to get rehearsal rooms. We would get blocks of rooms for like hours at a time. We’d all have to get up at 6 in the morning to wait on line to sign up! So that was our routine and we’d rehearse for hours and hours and hours. We’d all bring in music that was just impossible to play (laughs) and we’d work on it until we could play it and Randy could play anything and when he would go to solo…it just sounded like he had this sweetness in his fingers. It was just so beautiful, you know?"
"It was such a special time and great period in my life and we really had a bond. So after Berklee I had moved onto working with Frank and then I was doing solo work. So, oddly enough, when I look back at it, there was never really an opportunity for us to play together again."
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According to Coven's biography at Allmusic.com, in the '90s, Guitar Recordings (run by the magazine Guitar for the Practicing Musician), resulted in two solo efforts (1989's Funk Me Tender and 1990's Sammy Says Ouch!) and C.P.R., the latter of which was an album that saw Coven teamed with Alice Cooper/Megadeth guitarist (and another fellow Long Island native) Al Pitrelli, and drummer John Reilly, as well as a host of special guests - Zakk Wylde, Vito Bratta, and Steve Morse - among others. Coven also appeared on a host of compilations put out by Guitar Recordings around this time, and began penning his own monthly column for the magazine as well. The '90s saw Coven team with a pair of renowned guitarists, Leslie West (touring as part of a reunited Mountain, and also appearing on West's 1994 solo release, Dodgin' the Dirt) and Yngwie Malmsteen (1999's Alchemy and several supporting tours).
The early 21st century saw the release of a 16-track compilation, The Best of Randy Coven, while Coven issued his first true solo album in a decade, 2002's Witch Way, as well as guest on the sophomore release by Norwegian prog metallists, Ark (2002's Burn the Sun).
Randy Coven Band playing the song "Great Necks":
The footage below features guitar legend Steve Vai and his band performing "Answers" in Tokyo, Japan on July 7th. It was filmed by Jason McNamara using seven GoPro cameras and edited in FCPX.