Live Band
Jon Gordon

Name: Jon Gordon

Birthplace: New York City

Birthdate: October, 1952

Playing with Suzanne Vega: from early 1984 to late 1986

Instrument: Guitar (primarily electric)

Jon Gordon started his music career as a session guitarist, recording also in the late 70's as a member power-pop band "Tycoon". He became musician and musical director for Madonna and Suzanne Vega. And later toured with Mary Travers and Christine Lavin, and played locally with Patti Scialfa.

Since 1987, Jon Gordon started a career of producer, composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and engineer at his own studio "Jon Gordon Music Production". Studio clients include: Avon Corp, Fox Network, The American Heart Association, Weight Watchers, Simon & Schuster Audio, Warner-Chappell Music, Brielle Music, Billy Straus Music, In-Common Music, NJJ Music, Ronnie Lawson Productions, Killer Trax, NBC Sports, Patty Scialfa-Springsteen, The Uptown Horns, Jeff Franzell, Holly Lamar, Maria Christiansen, Steve Tannen and Lisa Loeb.

With Suzanne Vega
Jon Gordon started to accompany Suzanne Vega live before her signing with A&M. He played in Suzanne's local shows and contributed to the recording of several demos. Jon participated in the debut album "Suzanne Vega" (1985) doing the subsequent tours of 1985 and 1986. Jon left the Suzanne Vega band in late 1986, being replaced by Marc Shulman, but leaving recorded the famous guitar solo in "Luka".
How did it happen that you joined the Suzanne Vega band?

I was recruited by Steve Addabbo. We originally met when we were both playing guitar in Country Western bands. Subsequently Steve and I collaborated on some original recording projects.
Steve had formed a management and production company with his longtime friend Ron Fierstein. Suzanne was their first artist. Steve thought I would work well with Suzanne. I have to say, I believe I was a very good choice. I was the first "outside" musician brought into the project. For a time, Suzanne's "band" consisted of Steve and myself.

We began playing as a trio about a year prior to Suzannes signing to A&M. Not sure of the dates, but if Suzanne was signed in the fall of 1984, then I believe I started working with her in late 1983.

What were the other intruments used besides your and Suzanne's guitars, in those days?

My recollection is that Steve played acoustic 6 and 12 string guitar and a little bit of synth here and there. I think we used my Roland Juno 60 synth, and I believe we tried also incorporating an Oberheim DX drum machine (also mine) into "Neighborhood Girls".

What, according to you, did you bring to the live performance of Suzanne's songs?

Well, Suzanne once told me that her mother said I had "animal magnetism". That aside, I tried very hard to reinforce and amplify the sensibility of Suzanne's songs without grandstanding or overbalancing her.

The first time I saw Suzanne perform, solo, it totally blew me away. In an intimate setting, she had complete control over the room. It was a thing of beauty to watch.
I always tried to make my performance be on the same intimate scale that hers was, and I always had doubts as to whether a band could really do her music justice.

With her performances so delicate and nuanced, sometimes barely above a whisper, accompanying her was quite a challenge for an electric guitarist. Marc Shulman once paid me the compliment of saying that I had really created the electric guitar vocabulary for that gig. I'm so glad he said it, because that was what I was trying to do.

What are the characteristics of Suzanne's music that attract you the most, both as a musician and as a listener?

Her lyrics and her vocal delivery. Her music is very very good at best, but for me it is her poetry, her voice and her stage presence that really stand out.

What are your main music influences, and musicians you look up to?

Too many to list. Every genre of music from Gregorian chant to Emo. Every guitar player of note from Django Reinhart to Slash.

Apart from playing with Suzanne, which are the other projects, you have been participating in, that you're more proud of?

A few Indy CD's I've been involved with, notably: Steve Tannen's first album "Big Senorita" ( on which I engineered, played and associate produced, and Eytan Mirsky's "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight" (, on which I produced, arranged, engineered and played a number of instruments.

I also was involved in a high school band with Walter Becker, subsequently of Steely Dan. I wrote an essay for the Steely Dan site which some people find amusing:

Original interview by Josť Carlos Maltez (December 2004)

Last Update: December 10, 2006

Copyright © 2004 José Carlos Maltez