Personalities | Orianthi | Santana’s Appointed Successor | Guitar Heroes

Orianthi Panagaris (b. 1985) was born in Adelaide, South Australia, to Greek and Australian parents. She began playing piano at age three, switched to acoustic guitar at six, and to electric at 11.

After listening to a lot of Whitesnake, Van Halen and Def Leppard, she was wowed by Carlos Santana at a concert in Adelaide. By the time she was 15, she had performed in her first stage show for Steve Vai. When she was 18, Orianthi met her hero Santana, who invited her join him onstage to jam at a return concert in 2003. Santana has said that if he were to ‘pass the torch’ to another guitarist, it would be Orianthi.

After releasing her debut studio album Violet Journey in 2005, Orianthi relocated to Los Angeles, signed with Geffen Records in late 2006, and opened for Steve Vai in the US. An appearance with Carrie Underwood at the fifty-first annual Grammy Awards led to Orianthi’s becoming a member of the singer’s band. As a result, she was hired to become Michael Jackson’s guitarist for the This Is It tour, which was in rehearsal at the time of Jackson’s death. Orianthi appears in the film of the rehearsals, This Is It (2009), with Jackson onstage. Later, she played guitar on the song ‘Monster’ by Michael Jackson featuring 50 Cent, which was released posthumously in 2010. Since then, she has toured or performed with multiple artists, including Alice Cooper, Kid Rock, Adam Lambert and Chris Brown, and has performed on several editions of ‘American Idol’.

Orianthi’s major label debut Believe was released in October 2009. It contained the hit ‘According To You’. She followed up with a four-track EP including the singles ‘Shut Up And Kiss Me’ and ‘Courage’. In 2011, she released the five-track EP ‘Fire’, produced by Dave Stewart and released on iTunes. Her third studio album, Heaven In This Hell, was released on 12 March 2013. In December 2013, she paid tribute to Carlos Santana, performing in the Kennedy Center Honors Gala. In 2014, she toured and recorded an album with Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora.

Essential Recordings

Solo: Violet Journey

Solo: Believe

Michael Jackson feat. 50 Cent: ‘Monster’

Solo: Heaven In This Hell

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