Born: May 8, 1977 in Utica NY
Blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa came of age at a strange time for blues music. Bonamassa was one of three talented teenage guitar wunderkinds - the others being Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd - to emerge from the long shadow of the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan during the 1990s.
While both Lang and Shepherd would release their debut albums in 1995, Bonamassa didn't release his solo debut until 2000 (although it could be argued that the self-titled 1994 Bloodlines album was his coming out party). Since unleashing his acclaimed debut on unsuspecting blues fans, however, Bonamassa has certainly been more prolific than his peers, and he has showed an ambition to improve his craft in every area. Of course, when you have no less than B.B. King singing your praises, you're on the right track.
Six-String Blues Prodigy
Call it providence, or maybe fate, but six-string blues guitar prodigy Joe Bonamassa was born on what would have been blues great Robert Johnson's 66th birthday. Destined, perhaps, for a life in music, Bonamassa began playing guitar at the age of four on a small instrument given him by his father, a guitar player and dealer. By the age of seven, young Joe had moved up to a full-size guitar and was working out on Stevie Ray Vaughan songs.
Bonamassa began playing gigs in upstate New York at the age of ten, when he would be discovered by the blues great B.B. King. Recognizing the young guitarist's talents, King said "this kid's potential is unbelievable. He hasn't even begun to scratch the surface. He's one of a kind." By the age of 12, Bonamassa was touring with the likes of King, Buddy Guy, George Thorogood, and Robert Cray, among others. King was so impressed that he asked Bonamassa to open the shows of his 80th birthday celebration tour in 2005.
Joe Bonamassa's Bloodlines
Joe Bonamassa's recording career began during the early-1990s when, after meeting Berry Oakley, Jr. - the son of the late Allman Brothers bassist - the two formed the band Bloodline. Other members of the band included Waylon Krieger (son of the Doors' keyboardist Robby) and Erin Davis (son of jazz great Miles Davis). Bloodline released a single self-titled album of hard-edged blues-rock in 1994 that featured Bonamassa's scorching guitarwork. After the band's break-up, Bonamassa went back to his solo career.
Bonamassa made his solo debut in 2000 with the rock-oriented, Tom Dowd-produced album A New Day Yesterday, named for a classic Jethro Tull song covered by the guitarist. Alongside Bonamassa's original songs, the album also included versions of material from Rory Gallagher, Free, Al Kooper, and Warren Haynes, and included guest appearances by musician friends like Gregg Allman, Rick Derringer, and Leslie West of Mountain. The album would subsequently hit number nine on Billboard magazine's blues chart.
Number One On The Blues Charts
Bonamassa followed his debut with 2002's So It's Like That, which would become the guitarist's first number one album, and released A New Day Yesterday, Live, a document of his 2001 tour, the following year.
To honor the "Year of the Blues" in 2003, Bonamassa released Blues Deluxe a collection of three original tunes and nine classic blues numbers from artists like John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Robert Johnson, and Elmore James, among others. Blues Deluxe would also hit number one on the blues charts, a feat that Bonamassa would accomplish with three of his four following studio albums, as well as 2008's Live From Nowhere In Particular.
Rock, Soul & Blues
With 2006's You & Me album, Bonamassa recorded with Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin drummer John "Bonzo" Bonham and a seasoned rock music veteran in his own right. With the following year's album, Sloe Gin, Bonamassa played more acoustic guitar and the song's feature the guitarist's warm, maturing vocals along side a typical mix of rock, soul, and blues originals and covers. Sloe Gin proved to be one of Bonamassa's most popular albums, spending nearly three months on the blues charts.
Over the course of better than two decades of performing and recording, Joe Bonamassa has built a loyal and still-growing fan base that appreciates his enormous six-string talents, maturing songwriting skills, and dynamic live performances. Bonamassa has also earned the respect of the blues industry. He was the youngest-ever member of the Memphis-based Blues Foundation's Board of Directors, and Bonamassa is heavily involved with the Foundation's Blues In The Schools program, which educates students across the country of the legacy and influence of the blues. Bonamassa was also a popular DJ on Sirius satellite radio, hosting his own blues show.
Recommended Albums: Bonamassa's acclaimed debut, A New Day Yesterday, is highly recommended but his 2009 album The Ballad of John Henry displays the full range of the artist's guitar, vocal, and songwriting skills. Bonamassa further stretched his blues-rock muscles with 2011's Dust Bowl, while 2011's acclaimed Don't Explain is an exceptional collection of soul covers recorded with talented L.A. singer Beth Hart. Classic rock fans may enjoy the guitarist's tenure with the classic rock "supergroup" Black Country Communion.
Joe Bonamassa Discography
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- A New Day Yesterday (Medalist, 2000)
- So, It's Like That (Medalist, 2002)
- A New Day Yesterday, Live (Medalist, 2003)
- Blues Deluxe (Medalist, 2003)
- Had To Cry Today (Premier Artists, 2004)
- You & Me (Premier Artists, 2006)
- Sloe Gin (Premier Artists, 2007)
- Live From Nowhere In Particular (J & R Adventures, 2008)
- The Ballad of John Henry (J & R Adventures, 2009)
- Black Rock (J & R Adventures, 2010)
- Dust Bowl (J & R Adventures, 2011)
- Don't Explain w/Beth Hart (J & R Adventures, 2011)
- Driving Towards The Daylight (J & R Adventures, 2012)
- Beacon Theatre - Live In New York (J & R Adventures, 2012)