Al Laurence Di Meola (born July 22, 1954) is an American jazz, jazz fusion, and world music guitarist. Albums such as Friday Night in San Franciscohave earned him both critical and commercial success with fans throughout the world.
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, into an Italian family with roots in Cerreto Sannita, a small town northeast of Naples, Di Meola grew up in Bergenfield, where he attended Bergenfield High School. He has been a resident of Old Tappan, New Jersey.
When he was eight years old, he was inspired by Elvis Presley and the Ventures to start playing guitar. His teacher directed him toward jazz standards. He cites as influences jazz guitarists George Benson and Kenny Burrell and bluegrass and country guitarists Clarence White and Doc Watson.
Di Meola with Return to Forever at Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, New York, 1974
He attended Berklee College of Music in the early 1970s. At nineteen, he was hired by Chick Corea to replace Bill Connors in the pioneering jazz fusion band Return to Forever with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. He recorded three albums with Return to Forever, helping the quartet earn its greatest commercial success as all three albums cracked the Top 40 on the U.S. Billboard pop albums chart. He could play so fast that he was sometimes criticized for playing too many notes.