Phil X has proven his guitar chops for the past six years with Bon Jovi, filling in for Richie Sambora and, late last year, finally being named an official member of the band.
He's been playing guitar since he was young, but what many fans don't know is that the Toronto-born X (nee Xenidis) also knows his way around the bouzouki, which is a kind of "family business."
"My father played the bouzouki," X tells us. "He was, like, an entertainer, but not a professional entertainer. He'd take a bouzouki to a house party and it was like Elvis was in the building; He'd pull it out and everyone would freak out. It was astounding."
X himself started playing bouzouki when he was 17 "because I thought it would improve my picking, and it totally took my picking to another level. There's no distortion. The strings are doubled like a 12-string (guitar). If you're not clean you sound terrible, so you practice and practice and practice and try to get everything clean. Then when you jump on the guitar people are like, 'What the hell happened to your picking? I've never heard anything so precise.' So the bouzouki really helped my picking technique."
X is currently on the road with Bon Jovi promoting the new This House Is Not For Sale album.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.