Guitar virtuoso the Great Kat was born Katherine Thomas in Swindon, England. After her family moved to Long Island, Thomas began studying music, taking up piano at age seven and violin two years later. Thomas won a scholarship to Juilliard and studied classical music, but upon graduating with honors, she took up heavy metal guitar in addition to violin and retooled herself as the Great Kat. Billing herself as the "High Priestess of Shred Guitar" and "the Reincarnation of Beethoven," the Great Kat issued her debut album, Worship Me or Die, in 1987. 1990's Beethoven on Speed continued her approach of blending originals with speed metal arrangements of well-known classical pieces. A spate of similar albums followed over the '90s, including Guitar Goddess and Bloody Vivaldi, and her persona and stage show became increasingly S&M-themed. In 2000, the Great Kat issued a six-and-a-half-minute CD titled Rossini's Rape, which featured a run through the William Tell Overture.