Skip Navigation Website Accessibility

Lightning Joe's Bio


A veteran player going all the way back to Christmas day 1964, Lightning Joe has been known to " slay an entire room full of guitarists with a single lick." He's performed on television and radio, done session work for several studios, held the position of guitar columnist for the music magazine Sound Check, writing articles on all aspects of the guitar for three years, been in more bands than he can remember, like the SLO Motion Blues Band, Tidal Wave Cafe, Stark Raven, Gun Shy, The Shades, Prime Suspect, the 8th Wonder, Fusion, Just Good Stuff, Concrete Window, and The Purpose, to name a few, he's literally played thousands of gigs in some of the most impressive venues in our industry and traveled the road for years, performing along side of some very impressive heavyweights in the industry such as Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Naftalins Rythm & Blues Review, The Cash Valley Drifters, Donnie Brooks, Big Joe Turner, Mississippi Johnny Waters, The Curbfeelers, Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers, The Blues Survivors, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Pee Wee Crayton, Carey Bell Blues Harp Band, Ralph Shines Blues Band, Rainbow, Life, among others. Joe has played nearly every style of music and is currently settled into the role of guitar technician, enthusiast, teacher, mentor, owner and active CEO of Lightning Joe's Guitar Heaven..." I watched the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and knew exactly what I wanted to do: play the guitar." That was in '64 and it was later in 1980 in a seedy little bar called the Dark Room in San Luis Obispo, California, that Joe was given the tag " Lightning " by fellow members of the SLO Motion Blues Band for soloing " too fast " over the verses of Henry Mancini's Theme From Peter Gunn, and so the legend lives on at 100 East Branch Street in the sleepy little village of Arroyo Grande on the beautiful central coast of California at Lightning Joe's Guitar Heaven where you'll find Lightning Joe and his wife Marelene, daughter Savanna , their son Joseph with his wife Ashley, all running a very impressive, world class guitar shop.

































before I played guitar



















The Beatles were my initial and perhaps biggest influence followed by Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones, Cream,Yardbirds, that whole "British Invassion" thing. In the 70's it was Led Zepplin, Boston, Yes, Jeff Beck, Steely Dan, and others but then in the late 70's I changed musical direction a bit after being introduced to Weather Report, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Jean LucPonte, Brand X among others. Currently it's Allan Holdsworth, Greg Howe, Brett Garsed, T.J. Helmerich, Steve Vai, Scott Henderson, Jennifer Batten, Frank Gambale, Shawn Lane, Joe Satriani, and the list goes on. Acoustically; Django Reinhardt, Birelli LaGrene, Michael Hedges, Muriel Anderson. Alex De Grassi, Baddi Assad, John Jorgenson, Lawrence Juber, Kaki King, Preston Reed, Ed Gerhard, Vicki Genfan, etc. Other instrument influences Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Dave Weckle, Steve Smith, Joco Pastorius, Alanis Morissette, Chad Wackerman, Victor Wooten, Terry Bozio, Michael Manring. In general - Classic Rock - Blues - Jazz - Fusion, Contemporary Finger Style. It's all good ! The thing that really gets me in any genre is a higher level of technical achievement or musicianship.



Following below is a chronological, pictorial history of Lightning Joe's travels through time as musician.



Vary rare footage of the band "Lacewing" circa 1977 - featuring LIGHTNING JOE with a 1976 Les Paul Custom, Stan Sine on Harmonica, Dennis Carvalho on Drums, Ron Nolan - guitar and Paul Castiglioni on the bass. This was the very first city funded and approved concert on the cliffs at Shell Beach.


Lightning Joe performing in one of his favorite bands, The SLO Motion Blues Band, circa 1979, at the courtyard in the town of Harmony, CA. Lightning Joe is playing a 1959 Les Paul Jr., on bass is Rockin' Robin White, on drums Dennis (Sticks) Carvalho also known to fellow bandmates as "Led Foot", featured on harmonica is "Stan the Man" Stan Sine.