As a child, he would travel from Pasadena to San Pedro to learn classical piano from an elderly gentleman at the behest of his mother.
He was ranked #8 on Rolling Stone's list of Top 100 Guitarists in 2011.
His father was Dutch and his mother was Indonesian. He married Valerie Bertinelli on April 11, 1981; after their divorce on December 20, 2007, he married Janie Liszewski on June 27, 2009. He had a son named Wolfgang.
Allmusic, an online music guide service, ranked him second behind only Jimi Hendrix as a guitarist.