Mike Varney is an American hard rock record producer, publisher and impresario.
Varney founded record labels
, Tone Center
and Blues Bureau International
addition to discovering a number of important guitarists in the
, progressive metal
Some of his most famous artists were e.g. Yngwie Malmsteen
, Richie Kotzen
, Tony MacAlpine
, Greg Howe
, Marty Friedman
, Michael Lee Firkins
, Vinnie Moore
Varney also produced a number of acts, including metal act W.A.S.P.
and Racer X
During the late 80's Shrapnel Records was focused on guitar
Hard Rock and Metal. Many young guitarists got in
contact with Varney through his Spotlight Column
Guitar Player Magazine
article featured many so-called hometown heroes who sent demos to
Varney to show off their skills. A number of players who were
featured later got opportunities to record for Shrapnel Records.
Varney continues to own and operate his various imprints and still
has a keen ear for talent 27 years after founding Shrapnel.
Prior to forming Shrapnel Records, Mike proved himself as a very
accomplished guitar player in his own right. He played extensively
with the pre-punk San Francisco band the Nuns. He then co-wrote
(along with Jefferson Starship's Marty
) and performed in the rock opera "Rock Justice". Mike
then led his own band Cinema which also had notable success within
the San Francisco Bay Area. Mike was known for searing lead guitar
runs performed on his collection of Gibson
guitars. Mike’s formidable live performances were punctuated
by a slow prowl of the stage with almost-evil-looking leers into
the audience. He was also known for possessing an extensive
LP-record collection of hard rock and heavy metal music that was
likely only surpassed by the Library of Congress in quantity.
Growing up in Novato, California, Mike Varney became the preeminent
metal godfather of Novato guitar-wielding talent, before eventually
setting his sights globally. Novato in the late 1970’s and early
1980’s proved to be a breeding ground of guitar shred that, beyond
Mike Varney, also included Bob Gilles, Greg Strong, and Dan Meblin
(all of whom who have recorded for Mike Varney’s Shrapnel record
label). Other extraordinary guitar talents from that Novato music
hotbed include Pat Gilles and Guitar
editor Matt Blackett. The last “honorable
mentions” from that Novato guitar-gunslinger breeding ground
include Tom Watson, Joe Basso, and Chris Reed.
Official Shrapnel Label Group Websites