Stef Burns was born in Oakland, California, and grew up in Walnut Creek, CA, where he attended Northgate High School. He started playing his Dad’s guitar around age 6. At 7 he got his first electric guitar which was a Winston. He upgraded to a Fender Mustang soon after. He had his first band when he was 9 years of age called “The Yellow Brick Road”. They played songs like “Wild Thing” and “Louie Louie” and weren’t bad for a bunch of fourth graders.
In high school, he had a band called “Legend” and by then was playing a Gibson L6-S. They played Allman Bros., Lynyrd Skynyrd, Montrose, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Marshall Tucker Band and other 70’s stuff. The keyboard player was Dave Mathews who later went on to play with Tower of Power, Boz Skaggs and Etta James.
The next band was great. They called it “New Legend” and started to get into Jazz/Rock fusion, writing their own songs and covering tunes by Jeff Beck, Return to Forever, George Duke, Herbie Hancock and other 70’s Fusion stuff. The keyboard player in this group was John Seppala who now co-writes and plays with Stef on most of his new album,”Swamp tea”. They used to blow people’s minds because they were so young and were playing all this intricate material.
The first real club band was Omega. It was 1979. Stef was now playing a Les Paul Standard. This was a band formed by ex-Elvin Bishop band members Bill And Reni Slais, and Mickey Thomas who later had many hits with Starship. Omega was a large funk band, with horns like Tower of Power, very funky and worked a lot. In 1982, he got a job with Jesse Colin Young, formerly of the Youngbloods. They toured America for about a year and that led to a job with Pablo Cruise in 1983. He did one album with them called “Out Of Our Hands” and a US tour.
Then came Sheila E. It was 1984/85 and time for a little transformation, complete with blonde hair, shiny costumes and dance steps for days. For two years he played the Prince produced funk across America, Japan and Europe. Stef played on two Sheila E. albums: “Romance 1600” and “Sheila E.”. Also, two B-sides: “Too Sexy”, which he co-wrote, and “Save the People”. “This was a great time,” says Stef. “I learned a lot from Prince about funk guitar.” They were the opening act for Prince’s “Purple Rain Tour”. In Sheila’s band there was: Benny Reitveld on bass, who later went on to play with Miles Davis and Santana (with whom he is now playing with for a second go-around)
and plays on two songs on “Swamp tea”.
In 1986/87, Stef played with Berlin and toured again through America, Japan and Europe while they had the hit “Take My Breath Away” from the film “Top Gun”. In 1988, he toured with Michael Bolton. In this band there was Jonathon Cain on keyboards and Ross Valory on bass from Journey. Also in 1988 he co-formed a band called The VU, with Ross Valory, Prairie Prince (The Tubes) Tim Gorman on keyboards (toured and recorded with The Who and Rolling Stones), and Kevin Chalfant-Vocals. Kevin and Ross later went on to form The Storm with Gregg Rolie-(Journey/Santana). The album, “Phoenix Rising” by the VU is now released throughout the world.
In 1989 Stef joined Y&T and recorded 4 albums with them: “Ten”,”Yesterday and Today Live”, “Musically Incorrect” and “Endangered Species”.
In April 1990, he played a short tour in America with jazz saxaphonist Sadao Watanabe also featuring Will Kennedy-(drummer for the Yellowjackets) and bassist Keith Jones. On a recommendation from Joe Satriani, in early 1991, he got a call from Alice Cooper, who was looking for a guitarist for his new album. Stef played on “Hey Stoopid” and “The Last Temptation”. On “Hey Stoopid” there was Mickey Curry – drums (Bryan Adams), Hugh McDonald – bass (Bon Jovi) and guest guitarists Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Slash, Vinnie Moore, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue. On “The Last Temptation”, Stef played all the guitars. This album also featured Greg Smith on bass (who later went on to tour with Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow and Blue Oyster Cult) and Derek Sherinian on keyboards (who played with Dream Theater, Kiss and Planet X) both from Alice’s touring band, and Dave Uosikkenen on drums. They toured the world and in America with Judas Priest and Motorhead. They also had a part in the hit film “Waynes World”. Stef played with Alice from 1991 to 1995, when they toured South America on the “Monsters of Rock” tour with Ozzy Osborne, Megadeth and Faith No More, and again in 1998 in the US. By now he is mostly playing Fender Strats.
He spent much of 1996 and 1999 touring Italy with an Italian artist named Vasco Rossi with Deen Castronovo on drums. In 2001, he is touring again with Vasco in Italy. His latest band is Huey Lewis and the News, where he has replaced Chris Hayes on guitar, whom has retired though is going to play with the band again while Stef Is in Italy during part of the summer of 2001. In addition to these things, Stef is doing albums, TV and radio commercials,
film score work and live shows for various artists and producers including, Narada Michael Walden, Quincy Jones, Marc Russo formerly of the Yellowjackets, (who co-wrote and produced a song on “Swamp tea”), and many others. One such live TV show was the “VH-1 Honors” where Stef performed with Stevie Wonder, Steve Winwood, James Taylor, Sheryl Crow, Nile Rodgers, and Narada. Another was in Japan for the “Super Producers Tour 1995” with Narada Michael Walden featuring Patti Austin, Sheila E., Mickey Thomas, Shanice Wilson, Tevin Campell, T.M. Stevens, and Weather Report members Joe Zawinul and Alfonso Johnson.
Since about 1989 Stef has had his band “Stef Burns Group”, and plays a lot of gigs around the San Francisco bay area.There’s been different line ups throughout the years. The members have consisted of many of the musicians that were mentioned earlier but also included Myron Dove – Bass (Santana/Robben Ford) Billy Johnson – Drums (Santana/Robben Ford). The musicians performing on “Swamp tea” include Drummers-Narada Michael Walden, Deen Castronovo, Steve Smith and Jimmy DeGrasso; Bassists-Myron Dove and Benny Reitveld; Keyboardists-John Seppala and Frank Martin and Percussionist-Marquinho Brasil
In 2004 Stef joined Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Robert Fripp to jam on a couple songs at the G3 concert in Rome, Italy
His second album is a duo collaboration with dear friend, and acoustic guitar master, Peppino D’Agostino. Entitled “Bayshore Road” and released on Favored Nations Records, it was widely acclaimed by critics and fans alike.
Stef’s album, released in 2008, called “World, Universe, Infinity”, features even a bigger group of great musicians including, Huey Lewis, Bill Champlin, Lyle Workman, Abe Laboriel Jr, Jimmy Johnson, Peppino D’Agostino, Marc Russo, Sean Hopper, Juan Van Emmerloot, Fabio Valdemarin, Jeff Babko, Benny Rietveld, Jeff Campitelli, Paolo Muscovi, Giovanni Toffoloni, Walter Latuperissa, John Seppala, Josh Birnbaum and the Huey Lewis horns – Rob Sudduth, Johnnie Bamont and Louis Fasman.
The DVD video, Stef Burns Group (also known as SBG) “In Concert! World, Universe, Infinity… Live!”, was released April 2010 and features a live concert of the band plus Backstage Special Features and Music Videos for the singles, “Begin” and “Space Time”
In May 2011, Stef Burns and Italian TV star Maddalena Corvaglia were married by Vasco Rossi.
Stef and Peppino D’Agostino wrote the music for the single from Vasco Rossi called “Stammi Vicino”. It is released on the album “Vivere o Niente” to great success and the video clip features Stef and Maddalena.
In 2012 he took to the road in Europe with Stef Burns Group : Stef Burns/Guitar and Vocals, Fabio Valdemarin/Keys and Vocals and Juan van Emmerloot/Drums and Vocals. On the last tour the audience and critics were very enthusiastic. They are saying Stef’s melodic playing, great band and the constant energy that they share with their crowd, is a unique and wonderful experience.
2014 STEF BURNS LEAGUE releases “Roots & Wings” The strong new CD with 11 songs, and only 2 which are instrumentals. Features Stef, Juan and Fabio and many guest bass players, including Faso from Elio e le storie tese, Paolo Costa, Dan DeShara and Federico Malaman.
The current band on tour is Stef, Juan van Emmerloot – Drums, Vince Pastano – Guitar, Paola Zadra – Bass
More to come!!!