One of the most popular guitarists to emerge from '80s-era heavy metal was Dokken's George Lynch. With an arsenal of snazzy-looking guitars and speedy solos, Lynch helped propel Dokken toward the top of the charts for a spell (before interband tension broke up the group), and later, launched a solo career. Although born in Spokane, Washington, on September 28, 1954, Lynch was raised in Sacramento, California, where he took up the guitar as a teenager. Influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Leslie West, Jeff Beck, and Allan Holdsworth, Lynch played the L.A. club circuit throughout the '70s, including gigs with such forgotten acts as Sergeant Rocks, Xciter, and the Boyz. It was as a member of the latter band that Lynch met drummer Mick Brown and singer Don Dokken, which led to the formation of Dokken by the early '80s. With a sound akin to a more melodic Van Halen (and their lyrics often dealing with the subject of heartbreak), Dokken issued their debut recording, Breaking the Chains, in 1982, first through the European label Carerre before Elektra signed the group and reissued the album in the U.S. Although Ratt bassist Juan Croucier played on the album, newcomer Jeff Pilson became a permanent member soon after.