DESIREÉ BASSETT WAS RIFFING on a full-sized, ’83 Ibanez Roadstar II when she was just five years old. (It must have looked like the tot was being attacked by a slab of lumber!) At 12, her dad politely lobbied GP for coverage, but, at the time, we weren’t impressed with Bassett’s technique, phrasing, and groove. By her 14th birthday in 2007, however, the hard-working and ambitious guitarist had scored a bevy of gear-endorsement deals, and was cutting tracks with Living Colour’s Doug Wimbish, Vernon Reid, and Will Calhoun. She made it into July issue that year. Now, at just 20 years old, Bassett is the guitar star of Cirque du Soleil’s Michael JacksonTHE IMMORTAL World Tour. That’s one heck of a gig.
“It took a lot of work to precisely match the parts and guitar tones on Michael’s material,” says Bassett, who rocks Music Man electrics, a Martin acoustic, a Marshall JVM 410H amp, and Boss, Digi-Tech, Fulltone, Ibanez, ISP, and Morpheus pedals for the show. “Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Beat It’ solo took plenty of practicing to get right. Although, in the show, the solo is performed as a duel between me and our cellist. I’m sometimes given a little room to improvise. In ‘Dancing Machine,’ I have a 60-second window to play my own solo—as long as it’s in the key of D, and I end on the highest octave.”
Bassett also has her own band—Desireé & the Time Machine—and is currently writing material for the group’s fourth CD release.