Paul Brandon Gilbert (born November 6, 1966 in Illinois, USA) is an American musician. He is well known for his guitar work with Racer X and Mr. Big, as well as many solo albums. He also joined Joe Satriani and John Petrucci on the 2007 G3 tour.
He has been voted number 4 on a list in GuitarOne magazine of the "Top 10 Greatest Guitar Shredders of All Time", as well as a spot in Guitar World's 50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time list.
Around 1981-82 Paul first contacted Mike Varney, founder of Shrapnel Records, asking for a gig with Ozzy Osbourne. At the time Varney couldn't think why Osbourne would want a 15 year old guitarist, but after listening to his demo he changed his mind. They talked for the next 3 years, until Paul came to L.A for the GIT (Guitar Institute of Technology), and then was ready to record Racer X's debut album Street Lethal.Formed in Los Angeles in 1985, Racer X originally comprised Paul Gilbert (guitar), Juan Alderete (bass), Harry Gschoesser (drums) and Jeff Martin (vocals). They were heavily influenced by Judas Priest and Gilbert's playing was reminiscent of Yngwie Malmsteen, displaying fast-driven solos with extreme-level technique. Gschoesser was replaced by Scott Travis (later known for being the drummer for Judas Priest) in 1986, and Bruce Bouillet was added as a second guitar player. Bouillet was a very skilled player, as he had to play over Gilbert's always difficult and challenging phrases. Paul Gilbert gained recognition as one of the fastest guitar players in the world due to incredibly technical pieces like "Frenzy", "Scarified", "B.R.O." and "Scit Scat Wah". Gilbert left Racer X in 1988. Racer X carried on for a short time with guitarist (and fellow GIT alum) Chris Arvin and vocalist Oni Logan (later of George Lynch's Lynch Mob) when singer Jeff Martin departed to play drums in Jake E. Lee's Badlands, in which he replaced Eric Singer who left to join Kiss. Shortly thereafter, the members of the re-invented Racer X went their separate ways. The original band would eventually reform (although without Bruce Bouillet, who in-turn did produce the first reunion record), after Paul received an e-mail from a disgruntled fan under the alias "Snakebyte" about the musical direction of his solo albums. Snakebyte accused Paul of abandoning the shred guitar genre that he helped popularize with Racer X.
Paul contacted the members of Racer X, and all agreed to return, with the exception of Bruce Bouillet. In mid-1999 the band recorded the album Technical Difficulties. Technical Difficulties went gold in Japan, and Racer X's new record label requested a follow-up. In late 2000, the band released another album, Superheroes. The record was mixed by former Racer X guitarist, Bruce Bouillet.
In order to further capitalize on their new-found success in Japan, Universal Japan requested that the band record a live show for another live CD and DVD. On May 25, 2001, the band played their first live performance in thirteen years to a sold-out crowd at the famed Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. The show was recorded for both audio and video, and in 2002, both the CD and DVD were released under the name Snowball of Doom.
In January 2002, in support of Superheroes and Snowball of Doom, Racer X toured Japan and Taiwan. The band performed these shows in their Superheroes costumes, and the final show, in Yokohama, was hastily recorded in two tracks on the sound board and was to be later released as Snowball of Doom 2. Later that year, Universal Japan pushed for another Racer X release. In October 2002, all four members of Racer X gathered at Gilbert's house in Las Vegas to record Getting Heavier, which was sold alongside Snowball of Doom 2 in a package deal. Although the album was a successful release in Japan, some fans were disappointed with the lighter tracks, which resembled a Paul Gilbert solo album more so than a traditional Racer X album.
Racer X performed at the 2009 NAMM show at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Andy Timmons and his band opened the show, followed by a solo set from Paul Gilbert, and finally Racer X. The Racer X lineup consists of Paul Gilbert, Scott Travis, Jeff Martin and John Alderete.
When Billy Sheehan left David Lee Roth's band in 1988, he joined with Paul Gilbert, who had left his former band, Racer X. They founded Mr. Big, with Pat Torpey on drums and singer Eric Martin. The band was initially a huge success in Japan, and became famous internationally in 1991, with the release of their second album, Lean Into It. This album featured the ballad "To Be With You", which received strong media play and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Gilbert continued playing in Mr. Big until the late 1990s. He left the band in 1997 to pursue a solo career, and was replaced by Richie Kotzen. Mr. Big disbanded in 2002.
In June 2009, Paul Gilbert reunited with the rest of the original Mr. Big bandmembers: Eric Martin, Billy Sheehan and Pat Torpey for a reunion world tour.