Al Pitrelli of Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs at BB&T Center in December 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo: Larry Marano, Getty Images)
Al Pitrelli, the musical director and lead guitarist of prog-rock pioneers Trans-Siberian Orchestra, is a vital part of the group’s annual holiday spectaculars, with this year’s “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” tour kicking off Nov. 13 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Council Bluffs, Iowa.
To celebrate, Pitrelli – whose lengthy career has included stints recording and touring with Alice Cooper, Asia and Megadeth – curated a playlist of classic favorite tracks for USA TODAY.
“Whipping Post” – Allman Brothers (at Fillmore East)
“Live at the Fillmore” was and is the album that started my love affair with the guitar. Duane Allman and Dickie Betts were two of my biggest influences. Every time I listen to that track it takes me back to 1971, learning every note of it on my father’s turntable.
“Seagull” – Paul Rodgers
Paul Rodgers has always been my favorite singer. That song is my favorite track from the first Bad Company record. I played it night after night in the summer of ‘75 at the beach with a bunch of friends. Every time I hear it… it takes me back to that time.
“Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding” – Elton John
The first time I heard this it stopped me dead in my tracks. So deep musically, but so simple and memorable melodically.
“Karn Evil 9” – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
ELP were on a different level musically and lyrically. The perfect fusion of classical and rock and roll rolled into great songs. That was our walk-on music when we played (German music festival) Wacken in 2015. I remember hearing it in my in-ear (monitors) and looking out at 100,000 people in the crowd and thinking back to the first time I heard it 40 years prior.STORY FROM JACKSON NATIONAL LIFECan you get what you need in retirement?
“What Is Hip?” – Tower of Power
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One of my favorite songs to listen to just before a show. Nothing gets me more ready for a show than a great funk groove.
“For Those About to Rock” – AC/DC
Fairly self-explanatory…amazing song. Amazing band. I had the opportunity to open for AC/DC with Megadeth back in summer of 2000. They were absolutely amazing. I’d watch the crowd react to that song. It was incredible to watch.
“Light Up the Sky” – Van Halen
Hands down my favorite Van Halen song. To me it is the perfect “arena rock” song. King Edward’s (Eddie Van Halen) guitar sound is something that everyone has tried to emulate but never has.
“Never Alone” – Jeff Beck
I’ve been listing to Jeff Beck since “Blow By Blow” first came out. To me… he’s better now than he was then. I listen to this song every night, and every night I am reminded of how much I need to work to be that expressive so effortlessly.
“Going to California” – Led Zeppelin
Jimmy Page was the first guitarist I’d ever heard that recorded with so many different acoustic instruments. He greatly influenced the way I hear and play acoustic guitar. Very orchestrated yet subtle while creating a strong foundation for the vocal. More importantly…an amazing song.
Disney’s “Fantasia” soundtrack
I remember watching this with my kids and being completely blown away by the score. The composition is amazing, as is the use of different instruments to underscore the animation. To think… it was recorded live with an orchestra while watching to film. No overdubs. No pro tools. Just incredible. Timeless.