Alex Skolnick of Testament performs Planetary Coalition @ Mariott Hotel NAMM 2014
Born and raised in Berkeley, California, Alex began playing the guitar at age nine, inspired by Kiss and The Beatles. Though he’d originally dreamed of becoming a singer/guitarist, Alex immediately shifted his focus to lead guitar upon hearing guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen, as well as the Ozzy Osbourne band’s late guitarist, Randy Rhoads, whose plans to one day attain a university music degree would inspire Alex’s own ambitions.
Alex’s parents, Jerome Skolnick and Arlene, were Ph.D graduates from Yale University and on faculty at UC Berkeley where his mother was a research psychologist and his father was a tenured professor of sociology. Visualizing a similar path for their son, a music career was frowned upon, although guitar lessons were begrudgingly accepted. Alex studied the basics on an old acoustic instrument with Berkeley folk/children’s artist Gary Lapow, before moving on to local rock and blues teachers who played electric guitar. By his teens, Alex had become a student of master virtuoso Joe Satriani – then a full time guitar instructor in Berkeley and not yet a household name. Alex would become one of many Bay Area guitarists who studied under Satriani to achieve recognition (others include 8-string jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter, Larry Lelonde of Primus and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett).
The silver streak in Alex’s hair is natural and appeared at age fourteen (long before Joe Perry and Johnny Depp adopted a similar look). Raised in the Bay Area, he now considers Brooklyn, New York his home.