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Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa in Madrid, 2009 Photo: Raúl Ranz
Background information
Born 8 May 1977 (1977-05-08) (age 32)
Utica, New York, United States
Genres Blues-rock, blues, rock and roll, R&B, rock, blue-eyed soul, hard rock
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1989 - present
Associated acts Bloodline, Black Country
Website Official website

Joe Bonamassa (born May 8, 1977) is an American blues-rock guitarist and singer from Utica, New York.

Contents

Early life

Bonamassa was born in Utica, New York. He received his first guitar from his father at the age of 4, and by age 7 he was playing Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix tunes note for note. At the age of 11, during a short period of being mentored by Danny Gatton, he learned such styles as country and jazz as well as heavy rock. During this time with Gatton, Bonamassa sat in with Gatton's band whenever they played in New York. He first opened for B. B. King at 12 years of age. After first hearing him play, King said, “This kid's potential is unbelievable. He hasn't even begun to scratch the surface. He's one of a kind.” At 14, he was invited to attend a Fender guitar event; during that trip to the West Coast he met Berry Oakley, Jr. Bonamassa and Berry founded the group Bloodline with Miles Davis's son Erin and Robby Krieger's son Waylon. They released one album which produced two chart singles — "Stone Cold Hearted", and "Dixie Peach." He has since played with other music greats including Buddy Guy, Foreigner, Robert Cray, Stephen Stills, Joe Cocker, Gregg Allman, Steve Winwood, Paul Jones, Eric Clapton, and Derek Trucks.

Influences

Unlike other successful blues-rock guitarists, Bonamassa has cited his influences as being British and Irish blues acts, rather than American acts. In an interview in Guitarist magazine (issue 265), he cited the three albums that had the biggest influence on his playing: John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton (the Beano album), Rory Gallagher's Irish Tour and Goodbye by Cream. He also stated that Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood was a big influence at a young age.

He elaborated further on his influences in his interview:

"You know, my heroes were the English guys – Paul Kossoff, Peter Green, Eric Clapton. There’s so many - there’s Gary Moore, Rory Gallagher – another Irishman who played the same things, but don’t tell him that. But those guys were my guys – Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page. There’s a certain sophistication to their approach to the blues that I really like, more so than the American blues that I was listening to. B. B. King’s a big influence – he’s probably my biggest traditional influence. I love Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and T-Bone Walker and stuff like that, but I couldn’t sit down… I was always forcing myself to listen to whole records by them, where I’d rather listen to Humble Pie do "I'm Ready" than Muddy Waters, you know? I think, the English interpretation of the blues just hit me a lot better, you know?"

And in his October 2008 interview with Express & Star:

“When I heard Kossoff playing "Mr. Big" and when I heard Clapton playing "Crossroads" and when I heard Rory Gallagher playing "Cradle Rock", I was like, 'This is way cooler'.... "British blues are my thing. When I heard Rod Stewart and the Jeff Beck Group singing "Let Me Love You", it changed my life. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Those are my influences".

These influences are evident in his music, but Bonamassa has been influenced by other artists; notable examples include B.B. King, Robert Johnson, Danny Gatton, Eric Johnson, Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Buddy Guy. Bonamassa's style of playing incorporates the wide range of genres these influences cover: rock, blues-rock, Delta blues, electric blues, jazz, country - and even prog rock as evidenced by Yes's "Heart of the Sunrise" and "Starship Trooper"/"Wurm" section being regular features of live performances.

Solo career

Bonamassa's first solo album, A New Day Yesterday, was released in 2000 and produced by Tom Dowd. Bonamassa added drummer Kenny Kramme and bassist Eric Czar as bandmates to tour and support the album.

After touring to support his first album, Bonamassa and the band returned to the studio in 2002 and worked with producer Clif Magness to release his second album So, It's Like That. The second album contained more traditional rock music than his previous studio album, attaining number one on the Billboard Blues Chart.

Positive fan feedback resulted in the 2003 release of Blues Deluxe, which was released to support the Year of the Blues. The album features nine covers of classic blues tunes along with three songs written by Bonamassa. This album also reached number one on the Billboard Blues Chart.

2005 saw the release of Had to Cry Today, which returned to the more traditional rock music sound heard in So, it's Like That. In late 2005, after extensive touring with his previous trio, Bonamassa changed the line-up of the musicians in his touring band. He enlisted the help of bassist Mark Epstein and former Kenny Wayne Shepherd drummer, Bogie Bowles.

Bonamassa performing at the Stafford Center, Stafford, Texas, in 2007

In 2006, Bonamassa released his fifth full-length studio album, You & Me. This album also appeared at #1 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart. For the recording of this album, he enlisted the talents of multiple studio musicians such as Jason Bonham, son of John Bonham. "Your Funeral And My Trial", a track on the album, featured harmonica prodigy L.D. Miller,and bassist Carmine Rojas (Rod Stewart, David Bowie). You & Me is Bonamassa's heaviest blues album, breaking away from the heavier rock styles featured in So, It's Like That, and Had to Cry Today. The title of the album was taken from the Django Reinhardt song "Vous et Moi" (You and Me - 1942). The violin intro of that song was actually played by Reinhardt and inspired Bonamassa to write "Django", the 7th track on the album. Longer live versions would later appear on Live From Nowhere in Particular in 2009, and at the May 4th Royal Albert Hall Concert (Live DVD).

Sloe Gin was released in August 2007, and, as of March 2008, had spent more than 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard Blues Chart. This album features much more acoustic guitar work than any of Bonamassa's previous albums. Bonamassa's touring band underwent another change for this album's tour; bassist Carmine Rojas replaced Epstein and keyboardist Rick Melick was added. Both of the new band members took part in the recordings of You & Me and Sloe Gin.

Bonamassa presented his first live show as DJ on UK radio station Planet Rock on Sunday November 9, 2008, playing tracks from the likes of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Rory Gallagher and Eric Clapton.

In November 2008 Bonamassa announced he would be playing at the Royal Albert Hall in London on May 4, 2009. Tickets for the concert sold out in less than a week. Bonamassa described the event to the Express & Star as "the complete culmination of 20 years of work for me."

At the Royal Albert Hall gig 4 May 2009, Bonamassa stated that the first song that he learned to play was "Further on up the Road" and he then introduced Eric Clapton and together they performed the song, which Joe had been featuring on his current tour. Later in the gig, Joe paid tribute to the 'Paul Jones Radio Hour' on BBC Radio for playing his material on the air, then introduced Paul Jones (ex Manfred Mann & Blues Band) who played blues harp/harmonica on a Sonny Boy Williamson song called "Your Funeral, My Trial." Joe thanked the audience for "being a part of the best day of his life."

It was announced by UK radio station, Planet Rock on 14 January 2010 that Bonamassa was forming a new band with Jason Bonham and Glenn Hughes, to be known as Black Country. An album is planned for release later in the year.

Discography

DVDs

Live at the Rockpalast was released in 2005, and recorded at the Burg Satzvey in Mechernich, Germany.[6] It is one of the last concerts Bonamassa performed with his original band.

A live DVD titled A New Day Yesterday, Live was given away for a short period of time with So, It's Like That. This concert was later re-released as a full CD and DVD.

An instructional DVD, Signature Sounds, Styles and Techniques, was released in 2006.

A live DVD, "Joe Bonamassa: Live From Royal Albert Hall." was released in September 2009.

References

  1. ^ Zobbel (2007-06-16). "Chart Log UK". Zobbel. http://www.zobbel.de/cluk/CLUK_M.HTM. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  2. ^ Joe Bonamassa Official Message Board / "Live From Nowhere in Particular"
  3. ^ "The Official UK Albums Chart for the week ending 6 September 2008". ChartsPlus (Milton Keynes: IQ Ware Ltd) (367): 5–8. 
  4. ^ Billboard 200 Position, Billboard.com
  5. ^ Mascot Records Releases, Mascotrecords.com
  6. ^ DVD Review: Joe Bonamassa Live At Rockpalast

External links

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