Corrado Rustici, the guitarist who 'sold' 40 million albums

by Vicente Mateu

Aham (2016): The guitar of the future doesn't end at the headstock

Maybe it was that same summer while you were having fun at the ocean catching some rays and a golden light fused you with the sand. When you closed your eyes, a guitar seemed to make the still air move after another scorching day. When you decided to relive that magic moment that rocked you in the hammock, mojito in hand, the name Corrado Rustici took you to Naples (1957) to discover another one of those great musicians buried beneath the success of others.

An almost anonymous musician with 40 million albums sold to his credit. And it's not exactly because his own recordings, like Aham, are the stuff super sales are made of, but the top spots on the charts quite frequently feature some of the artists who have hired him as producer, songwriter, or studio guitarist. Or simply as a colleague.

His list of career collaborations is the kind that speaks for itself: Narada Michael Walden, Herbie Hancock, Whitney Houston (her debut album), Aretha Franklin, Elton John… and obviously Zucchero, a collaboration that has now lasted 15 years. But the list is too long and it’s well worth the effort to look into some far-flung albums to find, for example, that one of Rustici’s credits was Clarence Clemons.

Better to listen to his new album than wonder why Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Lee Hooker himself all worked with him. Aham is just his fourth solo album despite a career that started up in the early '70s with his first group, Cervello, before he moved on to Nova and then settled in the US, where he met John G. Perry and the great Narada Michael Walden.

He has currently formed a trio with Steve Smith on drums and ex-Jethro Tull keyboard player, Peter John Vettese, and recorded the highly recommended Live in Japan DVD in 2014.

Musically, Aham suffers from his dual Italo-American personality, caught halfway between progressive rock and the passion of his birthplace. An always exciting mixture that serves as the excuse for his real goal: to take the technique and technology of the guitar to another level.

, a wizard of the recording studio, is a master of the Multiamp. He attributes almost miraculous qualities to it, a kind of electronic Pandora' Box that will make "the notes that flow from your heart to your fingers" shimmer and shine.


His own hands frequently hold his favorite guitar -and that's saying something, because a good part of his time is dedicated to testing the latest models of many brands (with special attention focused on Godin’s custom made)-, a '63 Gibson SG Custom. At least, that was the one he played when he recorded his second album, Deconstruction (2006)… he immediately adds with undisguised envy that his brother has a '55 Les Paul with three pickups (actual value: 50,000 dollars!). 

With the innate elegance of an Andrea Bocelli -another of his ‘produced’ artists-, the guitarist from Naples has made Aham a master class on the future of the instrument. The six strings don't end at the headstock now, but in the circuitry of a sound processor that even leaves Rustici himself marveling at its infinite possibilities. It isn't just an album, it's a doctoral thesis.

Listen now on Spotify:

- Live In Japan