Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Jason Becker

Jason Becker, was born on 22 July, 1969. Jason is an American neo-classical metal guitarist and composer. At the age of 16, he became part of the Mike Varney-produced duo Cacophony with his friend Marty Friedman. They released Speed Metal Symphony in 1987 and Go Off! in 1988.

Jason Becker studied the works of violinist Niccolò Paganini and was a playing partner with Marty Friedman. Jason later composed a rendition of Paganini’s 5th Caprice, performing it during an instructional guitar video. Jason Becker’s compositions often include high speed scalar and arpeggio passages, both of which are trademarks of his ‘shred’ style of guitar playing. The song “Serrana”, appearing in the album Perspective, is an example of his sweep-picking skills. Jason demonstrated the arpeggio sequence during a clinic at the Atlanta Institute of Music. A video of this performance first appeared on his Hot Licks guitar instructional video and can now be viewed on YouTube.

Jason Becker started out playing alongside Marty Friedman in the Mike Varney produced duo, Cacophony. Jason Becker and Marty Friedman toured together with Cacophony in Japan and across the United States. In 1989 Jason Becker left to pursue a solo career, releasing his 1st solo album titled ‘Perpetual Burn’ in 1988, and has since released ‘Perspective’, as well as 2 albums of demos, entitled ‘The Raspberry Jams’ and The Blackberry Jams.

At the age of 20, he joined David Lee Roth’s band, replacing Steve Vai, who went on to join Whitesnake. While recording the A Little Ain’t Enough album and preparing for the subsequent tour in 1990, Jason Becker began to feel what he called a “lazy limp” on his left leg. Jason was soon diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and given 3 years to live. Jason could barely finish the recording, using low-gauge (thin) guitar strings and other techniques, which would make it easier to play with his weakening hands. Although he managed to finish the album he did not join the supporting tour due to his inability to perform on stage; former Lizzy Borden guitarist Joe Holmes took Jason Becker’s place on tour.

Jason eventually lost the ability to speak and now communicates with his eyes via a system developed by his father. Although his ALS gradually robbed him of his ability to play guitar, to walk, and eventually even to speak, he still remains mentally sharp and, with the aid of a computer, continues composing. In the back of the Perspective CD case, Jason Becker states “I have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It has crippled my body and speech, but not my mind.” Now in his 30s, his medical condition has remained stable since 1997. No recent updates pertaining to Jason’s condition has been heard of aside from him stating that he has felt a little better and gained some weight, but this was in 2003.

In 1996 Jason Becker released an album entitled Perspective, an instrumental album composed by him (with the exception of Bob Dylan’s song “Meet Me in the Morning”). The writing of the music had been started before ALS completely crippled his abilities. By using guitar and later, when he was unable to use both hands, a keyboard, he continued to compose while his disease worsened. However, when Jason Becker could no longer physically play even a keyboard, his friend and music producer Mike Bemesderfer helped him with a music-composing computer program which could read the movements of his head and eyes enabling Json Becker to continue to compose after he lost control of his entire body.

Several years later Jason Becker released Raspberry Jams (1999) and Blackberry Jams (2003), the first contained various unreleased demo-tracks and the latter contained demo-tracks and alternate versions of songs that were later reworked and published into other albums.

2 tribute albums to Jason Becker have been issued. Respectively entitled Warmth in the Wilderness I and Warmth in the Wilderness II, they feature guitarists such as Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, Joe Becker, Rusty Cooley, and Mattias Eklundh. The album profits were sent to Jason Becker to help him with his medical finances.

Shrapnel Records will be releasing a Best of Jason Becker album. The album, is scheduled for release in October and will feature three new songs for the album which will feature Marty Friedman, Greg Howe, Joe Satriani, Michael Lee Firkins, Steve Vai, and Steve Hunter. The album will also feature older, never-heard songs/recordings.

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Don Revie

Donald George ‘Don’ Revie, OBE, was born on 10 July 1927 in Middlesbrough and died on 26 May 1989, from motor neurone disease, in Edinburgh, Scotland, aged 61.

Don Revie was a football player for Leicester City, Hull City, Sunderland, Manchester City and Leeds United as a deep-lying centre forward. After managing Leeds United between 1961 to 1974 with great success, his reign becoming known as Leeds’ “Glory Years”, he managed England from 1974 to 1977.

Don Revie first signed as a footballer for Leicester City in 1944. From there he went on to play for Hull City in 1949 (transfer fee £20,000), Manchester City in 1951 (£25,000), Sunderland in 1956 (£22,000) and Leeds United in 1958 (£12,000). The combined transfer fees paid over his career were at the time (i.e. in 1958) a record in English football.

Don Revie won 6 caps for England, was Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in 1955 and won an FA Cup winners medal with Manchester City in 1956. At Manchester City the playing tactic of using a deep-lying centre-forward (Don Revie’s position, evolved from the more traditional inside-right), and based on the style of the successful Hungarian national team, and in particular Nándor Hidegkuti, who invented the role, became known as the “Revie Plan”.

This tactic was of enormous significance in the development of football, moving permanently from the old 2-3-5 and WM tactics to 3-3-4, then 4-2-4 and 4-3-3 tactics.

Don Revie was made player-manager in March 1961 at Leeds. Although his tenure didn’t get off to a flying start, he won the Football League 2nd Division within 3 years as manager and once promoted took them to 2nd in the league and the FA Cup final in their 1st season in the top division. Don Revie developed the team that would by the early 1970s be the major force in English football. Don Revie was named English Manager of the Year in 1969, 1970, and 1972, and was awarded the OBE in 1970.

All in all Don Revie guided Leeds to 2 Football League 1st Division titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 2 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup titles, 1 Football League 2nd Division title and 1 Charity Shield. Don Revie also guided them to 3 more FA Cup Finals, 1 more Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final and 1&1 Cup Winners’ Cup Final.

Don Revie was occasionally linked with other clubs during his tenure, most notably Everton in 1973, but his loyalty unwavered.

In July 1974 Don Revie was offered the job of England national football manager ahead of such luminaries as future Leeds boss Jimmy Adamson, but was unable to reproduce the success he had enjoyed at Leeds. England failed to qualify for Euro 1976 under his reign, and he was villified for lying about his wherebouts during qualification for the subsequent World Cup.

In 1977 he controversially quit the role to become coach to the United Arab Emirates. The FA suspended Don Revie from football for 10 years on a charge of bringing the game into disrepute, which Don Revie successfully overturned in court. After leaving the UAE coaching role in 1980 he took over management of Al Nasr, followed in 1984 by the Egyptian club Al Ahly of Cairo. Don Revie left within a year because his wife was ill at the time.

A controversial figure in his time, his team was criticised for its violent play and gamesmanship, most notably by Brian Clough, although it was widely recognised as among the finest of its day. Don Revie’s reputation suffered following his retirement due to the U.A.E. scandal and also because of highly controversial allegations that Don Revie had attempted to bribe opposition players and managers during his career – these allegations have been made by several senior players and coaches, such as Bob Stokoe, Jim Barron, Don Revie’s own goalkeeper Gary Sprake and more recently Frank McLintock. These claims have not been proven. However, in the years following his death, Don Revie’s reputation has at least partially recovered in spite of these scandals and he is now considered (by Leeds fans at least) as one the finest managers in English football history.

Don Revie continues to be worshipped by the Leeds supporters and beloved by his former team. The kop at Leeds United’s ground, Elland Road, is named after him. Don Revie was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2004 in recognition of his impact as a manager on the English league.

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