Get to know breakout guitar star Orianthi - New York News

Get to know breakout guitar star Orianthi

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PHOENIX -

She picked up her first electric guitar at 11, but even before that Orianthi knew she'd someday leave Australia to become a rock star in America.

Her childhood dream is now reality. 27-year-old Orianthi is a bonafide rock ‘n roll guitar diva. And she's had a meteoric rise since the day her idol Carlos Santana called her on stage to jam with him when she was just a teenager.

A few years later she was Michael Jackson's guitarist.

We caught up with Orianthi at her sound check in Phoenix to talk about her meteoric rise.

When Orianthi takes the stage, there's no doubt you are watching a rock goddess in action. But when she sits down to talk to us about how she became a guitar diva, you see the soft spoken Aussie girl come out.

"I grew up listening to old records like Jimi Hendrix and Santana… and I'm always in awe of him. He's the reason why I play guitar."

At age 11 Orianthi picked up an electric guitar.

"I left school when I was 15. I signed my first contract when I was 14 and did my first record."

At 18 Ori was on stage jamming with Santana. Now, at 27, she's been playing guitar more than half her life. Performing with the best.

Most people know Orianthi for the concert she never played -- Michael Jackson's final tour.

She awed moviegoers with her Beat It solo in the MJ film "This Is It." Orianthi says her performance at the Grammy's got Michael's attention.

"MJ's people reached out to me not too long after… It was just so intense, going in and playing the Beat It solo in front of Michael. It's like how to play guitar again. You know he's staring right at you. So it was pretty insane. But you know I got through it and he hired us all that night. It was insane."

"Incredible spirit. When he walked into a room. He just had that obviously larger than life, MJ's here, but very sweet at the same time," she says. "You could definitely feel it like when he was next to me and dancing, Billy Jean. You know, the energy he had around him. His aura you could definitely feel.

But the real thriller has been working with Alice Cooper.

"It's actually very similar working with Alice as it was working with Michael. Because he's very much about the theatrical aspect of the show… it seems normal. We've been celebrating Halloween for about a year every night. He gets into character."

"They asked me to do the tenth anniversary of American Idol. To do Schools Out. And they say Orianthi's gonna be there. I said have her play the opening riff," says Alice Cooper.

"So she's now in a guitar rock band where she gets to really let go and we give her tons of solos to play and she's just one of the guys. She just rocks it. She can play anything Eddie Van Halen can play. She can play anything Jimmie Page."

She's Alice Cooper's first female guitarist and she fits right in.

"I told everybody who gets in the band, I kind of am kidding but I'm not really, I tell ‘em three things I can guarantee you. I said, you're gonna get paid, you're gonna see the world. You're gonna get stitches. At some point you're gonna get stitches. I swear the third night she got cut on the foot, had to get stitches."

"They're not expecting her to be what she is. She looks great up there and then when she starts playing...she's gonna do Foxy Lady, Jimi Hendrix's Foxy Lady and she does it exactly like Jimi Hendrix."

"She's done the last two world tours with us. And next year, she's coming out next year with us. So every time I say, next year? She says can't wait."

Orianthi knew at a very young age what she wanted to do.

"I was like, I want to go to America and make my album I just knew that, from when I was really young."

She just didn't think it would all happen so quickly, but she's enjoying every second of the ride.

Look for Orianthi's new album in the coming months. She's touring with Alice Cooper this year, and signed on for next year as well.

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