Joey Santiago, the iconic guitarist for the Pixies, turned fifty this month — January 10th, to be exact. I first met him in 1987 in Morgantown, WV while attending West Virginia University. I went over to my friend Andrew’s house. He was in art school at WVU and was renting an old house with a cool attic space, painted all white on the interior. Kim Deal, Black Francis and Santiago were upstairs hanging out with Andrew. Upon being introduced, I thought they were just more of his art student friends. Little did I know I’d just met someone who would become one of the most important guitar players of the next thirty-plus years.
As David Bowie has said, Santiago is one of the most underrated guitar players and deserves high praise for his innovative and highly influential dynamic style: soft delivery on the verse and loud distorted bursts on the chorus, combined with his signature droning sustain. His guitar colored the Pixies’ sound with just the right original elements of menace and otherworldiness to leave a lasting imprint on generations of musicians. Viva Joey Santiago!