How long before we realise we are privileged to be in the presence of the next rock and blues guitar legend. Not only is Joe Bonamassa a brilliant guitar player but he has developed his vocal and song writing skills to such an extent that he can hold his own in three dimensions.
A man who at the age of 36 stands alongside the greats like Jimi Hendrix, BB King. Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Page. A man of humble disposition who has grown from a twelve year old prodigy over 25 years to become a major draw to audiences all over the world. A workaholic who is transcending the boundaries and promoting himself in an unprecedented way, flying in the face of conventional standards. Joe Bonamassa is a true legend in his lifetime; a genius who has driven himself through dedicated passion to become an amazing new world blues/rock star.
To open for BB King at the age of twelve is incredible to say the least but when you consider his musical pedigree and the fact that he was playing Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, note for note, at the age of seven it is not such a surprise. His parents owned a guitar shop, his great-grandfather, grandfather and father all musicians. The list of musicians he has played with since is impressive and includes such names as Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Stephen Stills, Paul Rodgers and Joe Cocker. He has produced 10 studio albums, 6 live albums and 9 DVD’s. His live performances are always sell-outs and he seems to be constantly on the road taking his music to the world. The ‘Tour de Force’ shows in the UK were a major accomplishment incorporating 60 songs into 4 different shows. He has a guitar collection to rival any in the world and it is still a growing obsession. But he considers himself as the curator and protector of approximately 200 guitars he has acquired from some of the great guitar players of all time, to play them in his lifetime and then pass them on when he is finished. Like museum pieces.
But he is still and I imagine he always will be, approachable and just the boy next door. His humble demeanour belies his incredible talent and skill. Among the biggest influences on his career are BB King Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Page, Paul Kossoff, and Gary Moore. Interestingly they are mostly British which Joe says were his heroes rather than the Delta Blues players of old who were the originators of the Blues such as Muddy Waters, Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy. He was even influenced by progressive rock bands like Yes and features excerpts from their music in his repertoire. It’s interesting that I have never heard reference to Little Richard, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee-Lewis, Elvis Presley, The Beatles or the Rolling Stones as influencing him in any way. Yet they were all a major influence before and during the time of his heroes in the genre of blues and rock music. I was weaned on Bill Haley, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Buddy Holly through to Elvis, Jerry Lee-Lewis, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and the Stones. Led Zeppelin, Free, Pink Floyd, Cream and on to the present day I have lived with them all and Joe is without a doubt one of the best of all time.
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