January 22, 1985
🇦🇺 Adelaide, Australia
Guitar virtuoso Orianthi catapulted to success as a solo artist after first gaining attention behind superstars Carrie Underwood and Michael Jackson.
Orianthi Panagaris started playing electric guitar as an 11-year-old after catching Carlos Santana on his Dance of the Rainbow Serpent tour. Orianthi sent Santana her demos, and the recordings impressed him enough to offer her a spot on stage the next time he played her native Adelaide, Australia. The gig with Santana led to an endorsement from Paul Reed Smith's PRS Guitars, and after independently releasing her first LP Violet Journey in 2005, she moved to L.A., signed with Geffen Records and started work on her major-label debut, Believe.
Before the album's release, Orianthi was recruited to perform at the 51st Grammy Awards as country hitmaker Carrie Underwood's lead guitarist, which resulted in an invitation to tour as a member of Underwood's band. Shortly afterward, Orianthi was asked by a representative of Michael Jackson to audition for his forthcoming This Is It tour. Less than three weeks before the start of the tour, Jackson suddenly died from a prescription overdose: Geffen made sure that Orianthi performed at Jackson's memorial, an event televised live across the globe, before finally releasing Believe (which she began recording two years earlier) on the same late October day as the soundtrack to Jackson's This Is It documentary. Believe yielded Orianthi's biggest pop hit, "According to You," but as public interest in guitar-dominated music waned, she retreated to the background, playing lucrative shows with Alice Cooper, Dave Stewart and Michael Bolton, among many others.