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Hiroshi's "6 Albums That Changed Me"

Michael Jackson: Thriller

This was my very first record. A friend of my mother's gave it to me when I was about eight. Listening to this album taught me the importance of rhythm and groove.

Apparently, Michael and co-producer Quincy Jones spent a long time looking for the right guitarist for this record. For the song "Beat It" they eventually settled on Eddie Van Halen. Steve Lukather of Toto also contributed to the record and plays rhythm guitar on several tracks.

Skid Row: Skid Row

I later started listening to heavier bands and I particularly loved the band Skid Row. Their guitarist Scotti Hill became my first guitar hero.

Stray Cats: Gonna Ball

I got heavily into rockabilly when I was in high school. I remember spending a lot of time figuring out the guitar parts off this album.

Tom Waits: Closing Time

The first time I heard Tom Waits was in the art room of my high school where I used to hang out. This was Tom Waits' debut album, and although it's often seen as being a jazz, piano-led album, it has strong folk elements too.

Even though it's not particularly a guitar album, it really expanded my music world.

Jason Vieaux: Guitar Recital

The Grammy Award winning American classical guitarist Jason Vieaux is considered to be one of the finest classical guitarists currently around. He remains the youngest ever winner of the Guitar Foundation of America International Guitar Competition. This album really taught me how to interpret music and how to bring out emotions.

Dušan Bogdanović: Unconscious in Brazil

The music of Serbian composer and classical guitarist Dušan Bogdanović is fascinating for me. It's a really organic synthesis of classical, jazz, and ethnic elements. I actually did my DMA (Doctor or Musical Arts) degree on his music. As part of my research I visited Bogdanović at his home in San Francisco and took a 3-hour lesson with him.

I love everything Bogdanović puts out, but this album has a whole lot of unconventional beauty in it. Every time I listen to it, it makes me realize how powerful melodies can be.

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