Happy (belated) birthday to Steve Vai, who turned 52 earlier this week, born June 6, 1960.

There are so many amazing guitarists out there (Joe Satriani, female phenom Orianthi, Deep Purple's Steve Morse, Eric Johnson, and on and on), that for me personally it's pretty much impossible to choose "the best".

But if technical virtuosity blended with passionate expression is the mark of a great guitarist (obviously, it is), then Steve Vai is surely one of the top guitar players of all time.

Vai studied under Satriani, played and transcribed guitar solos for Frank Zappa, played with David Lee Roth, Whitesnake, Alice Cooper and many others.

Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

I've been lucky enough to catch Vai live on a couple of G3 tours and his performances have blown me away every time.

He's simply breathtaking (and as a woman, I appreciate that he's breathtaking in more ways than one)!

I also appreciate that Vai is a longtime vegetarian.

"It has affected my music in a way (because) I believe that what we put in our bodies has a reflection on the way we think," he says.

He also says "The most important thing in my life is trying to achieve some sort of spiritual balance because everything flows from that."

So that's the secret to musical expression that has that otherworldly feel....because his playing simply can't merely be on the human level.

Has to be for the love of God.