Although Music Man CEO Sterling Ball has spent most of his adult life building a brand, the guitar has always played a important role in his own personal development.
There’s also a deep, mutual love and respect that exists between Ball and the artists his company serves. That’s probably why, after word got out that Ball was working on an album of his own, guitarists like Steve Morse, Steve Lukather, Steve Vai and John Petrucci were eager to join in.
The resulting compilation, The Mutual Admiration Society, is an eclectic mixture of songs and tasty guitar work done in a way only the best of friends can do. In addition to showcasing Ball’s own impressive guitar virtuosity, the album also allowed the guest guitarists to step outside the box of what they’re known for, and explore other areas of their musicality.
Whether it’s Morse’s fretwork on the Dobie Gray classic, “The In Crowd,” Steve Lukather’s Delta Blues version of “Baby, Please Don’t Go,” John Petrucci’s Disney medley or Steve Vai’s rendition of the Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs’ hit, “Sugar Shack” (one of Vai’s favorite songs as a youth), Mutual Admiration Society is a record of appreciation and admiration for both the instrument as well as each other.
Guitar World recently spoke with Ball about The Mutual Admiration Society and more in this new interview.
How did the The Mutual Admiration Society come about?
Over the years, I’ve toured Australia with Steve Morse and Albert [Lee]. We’ve also played in England and Germany and done club gigs as a combo in places like L.A. and Atlanta with Luke [Steve Lukather]. It was fun and low key, but I always kept the idea of doing an album on the back burner because I didn’t want to present myself in any way as a peer.
A few years ago, I did an album called Better Late Than Never. Everyone was very supportive of it and gave me confidence. So, I asked John Ferraro (drummer) about doing another album—just him and me. We got some of the basics together and I played them for Steve Morse. Steve really liked it and gave me advice for some things to try. I later sent him back the updates and the song, “The In Crowd.” He said, “You know? I really love that groove. It’s something I’ve never been able to play on since we were in our band.” I said, “Steve, what are you asking?” and he said, “Can I put the guitars on that track?” [laughs]. There went the idea of doing a record with the drummer. You don’t say no when Steve Morse asks to put guitars on your track!
I talk to Luke just about every morning and one day he called me and said, “Hey, Morse told me about the record you’re working on. I want to play on it too.” Then came [John] Petrucci, who said, “Hey, I don’t want to be the one left out.”
Interview with Sterling Ball by Clicking Here.