IN THE MID ’80S, THE first thing many GP readers did was turn to the back of the mag to read the Mike Varney Spotlight. It seemed like every single month there was a new player with out-of- this-world talent just waiting to explode off the page. In the first issue of 1985, it happened again with a curly haired kid out of Delaware named Vinnie Moore. Varney was unequivocal in his praise for Moore’s playing, comparing him to gods like Di Meola and predicting his immediate rise to 6-string fame. Sure enough, the public soon heard Moore’s fiery play-ing on TV and on record. Moore set himself apart from the shred pack with an appreciation of Larry Carlton jazzrock, Albert King blues, and Beatles pop that went way deeper than the average rock dude. Years later, he would get what many Spotlight fans might consider a dream gig, his current job in UFO, and he continues to release solo albums, including his most recent, To the Core [Mascot].
“Being featured in Mike Varney’s Spotlight column was absolutely a pivotal point in my life,” says Moore. “I was 20 years old and knew I wanted to chase my dream and be a professional musician, but had no idea how to make it happen. This single page in a magazine was a golden opportunity for many guitarists—especially those of us from small towns—to break into the music business. It’s pretty amazing to look back and see just how many successful players got their start from the column. If not for this exposure, God only knows how many of us would have been able to reach this level of success. A month after my feature, I got a call from a production company in Los Angeles that was casting for a part in a Pepsi TV commercial. They had picked up a few issues of GP and happened to see my feature and take an interest in me. The next morning, I was on my way to L.A. to audition. I had never even been on a plane before. I ended up writing and recording the music for a 30- and 60-second version of the national ad. From there I was able to move onward and upward by doing a couple of records on Varney’s Shrapnel label, including my first solo album, Mind’s Eye. Using the momentum I received from Spotlight, I definitely picked up the ball and ran with it. And I’m still running, although my knees are starting to get a little sore. Ha! Thanks Mike and GP. I owe ya one.”