Self-taught guitarist Stevie Salas is a Mescalero Apache Indian who was raised in San Diego. He went to high school in Oceanside where, at the age of fifteen, he picked up his first guitar and ended up choosing a music career over joining the Coast Guard.
He got an early career boost after being spotted by George Clinton of Parliment Funkadelic. As a result, just two years out of high school, Salas was already touring with Rod Stewart, and Mick Jagger tapped him for a 2001 tour. His band Sass Jordan featured a young future Foo Fighter, the late Taylor Hawkins, personally chosen by Salas.
Salas credits his San Diego upbringing for his musical diversity. “I think deep down, it’s because I didn’t fit in. I loved Kiss, but I didn’t sound like Kiss when I was coming up. I played with Bootsie [Collins] and George [Clinton] in Funkadelic, but I didn’t really sound like them. I always fell through the cracks, but I could work with [Mick] Jagger, Terence Trent D’Arby, Duran Duran. That’s the thing about San Diego: you grow up, you’ve got the Marine base, you’ve got all these different cultures. I had black friends, yellow friends, green, purple, pink friends. I didn’t see color; thank you, North County San Diego. We could play a Montrose song, and then we could play a song by Joe Jackson, and the kids would like both equally. So, when I got to L.A., I understood funk and I understood hard rock.”
Salas has produced bands like Australia's Yothu Yindi, a group with Aboriginal and balanda (non-Aboriginal) members. He also branched into film production, including the 2017 documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, chronicling artists such as Link Wray, Robbie Robertson, Randy Castillo, and Jimi Hendrix, whose paternal grandmother was one-quarter Cherokee. He followed that up with a film about the Standing Rock conflict involving Native Americans attempting to prevent oil pipeline construction on Indian land.
In 2018, he decided to forgo touring in favor of working on more film scripts, though he did go to Australia at the end of the year to perform and record again with Yothu Yindi. Around the same time, he formed new band featuring frequent Rolling Stones collaborator Bernard Fowler, bassist Doug Wimbish (Living Colour), and drummer Brian Tichy (Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol).
In early 2019, Salas was recruited to play the 2019 David Bowie Alumni Tour, alongside Bowie's longtime keyboardist Mike Garson and several other Bowie vets.
During the 2020 pandemic shutdown, Salas was working at a San Diego studio with actor Graham Greene, who was narrating a new short documentary Salas was doing called The Water Walker. Also In town for the sessions with Ben Moore were director James Burns (VICE) and writer/director Kevin Munroe (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ratchet & Clank). "When I rock, I rock," said Greene at the time. "Pissin’ with the big dogs now."
In 2022, Salas toured with MC5 mainman Wayne Kramer in a touring project called We Are All MC5, alongside Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails) on drums, singer Brad Brooks, and bassist Vicki Randall (Mavis Staples, Rufus).