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Joe Bonamassa
Joe Bonamassa performing in 2013
Joe Bonamassa performing in 2013
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Leonard Bonamassa
Born (1977-05-08) May 8, 1977 (age 43)[1]
New Hartford, New York, U.S.
GenresBlues rock
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1989–present
LabelsJ&R Adventures, Provogue
Associated actsBloodline, Black Country Communion, Beth Hart, Rock Candy Funk Party, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Jason Bonham, Wizbit, Joe Lynn Turner, Jordan Rudess

Joseph Leonard Bonamassa (/ˌbɑːnəˈmɑːsə/ BAH-nə-MAH-sə;[2] born May 8, 1977) is an American blues rock guitarist, singer and songwriter. He started his career at age 12, when he opened for B.B. King.[3] In the last 13 years Bonamassa has put out 15 solo albums through his independent record label J&R Adventures, of which 11 have reached number 1 on the Billboard Blues charts.[3][4]

Bonamassa has played alongside many notable blues and rock artists,[5] and earned a Grammy Award nomination in 2013.[6] Among guitarists, he is known for his extensive collection of vintage guitars and amplifiers.[7]

Life and career

Solo career

Bonamassa was born in Utica, New York.[8] He started playing guitar at age four, encouraged by his father, who was an avid music fan and exposed him to British blues rock records by Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, greatly inspiring him. At 11 years old Joe was mentored and trained by American guitar legend Danny Gatton. When he was 12 years old, he had his own band called Smokin' Joe Bonamassa, which gigged around western New York and Pennsylvania, including cities such as Scranton and Buffalo, but only on weekends since Joe had school on weekdays. Bonamassa played a crimson 1972 Fender Stratocaster he called "Rosie", given by his father.[9]

Bonamassa opened for B.B. King at approximately 20 shows in 1989.[9] In 1991, he performed on The Mickey Mouse Club where he is inducted into the Hall of Fame.[10] Before he reached 18 years old, Bonamassa was playing in a band called Bloodline with the sons of Miles Davis, Robby Krieger, and Berry Oakley. Although Bloodline did not become a famous act, it attracted some attention to Bonamassa's guitar chops.[11]

Bonamassa's debut studio album A New Day Yesterday was released in 2000, and features both original tunes and covers of such artists as Vic Ferrari, Rory Gallagher, Jethro Tull, and Warren Haynes.[12] The album features a guest appearance by Gregg Allman on the tune "If Heartaches Were Nickels" and was produced by Tom Dowd.[13] The album reached number 9 on the Billboard Blues chart.[14]

Between 2002 and 2006, Bonamassa saw three studio albums hit number 1 on the Billboard Blues charts, and all five of his solo studio albums made the top 10.[15]

In 2009 Bonamassa fulfilled one of his childhood dreams by playing at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where Eric Clapton played a duet with him.[16]

Bonamassa's live album Beacon Theatre–Live from New York was released in 2012. The show featured one of Bonamassa's musical heroes, Paul Rodgers, formerly of the bands Free and Bad Company, as a guest.[11]

March 26, 2013, saw the release of his live acoustic album An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House, which was released as a CD/DVD/Blu-ray set. This concert marked the first time Bonamassa played a wholly acoustic show. The acoustic ensemble that performed the show was assembled with the help of Bonamassa's longtime producer, Kevin Shirley.[17]

The concluding, three-night stand of Bonamassa's spring 2013 tour occurred at the famous Beacon Theatre in New York City.[17]

Over the summer of 2013, Bonamassa performed four shows in London featuring three different bands and, at one show, a horn section, covering four different sides of his music. Each show had a unique setlist. The shows were recorded for a DVD release and the set of DVDs was released in October 2013 under the name "Tour de Force."[18]

Joe Bonamassa performing at Radio City Music Hall in 2015
Joe Bonamassa performing at Radio City Music Hall in 2015

On December 6, 2013, Bonamassa and Beth Hart were nominated for a Grammy Award for their 2013 collaborative album SeeSaw in the Best Blues Album category.[19]

Bonamassa's album Different Shades of Blue is his first solo studio album since So, It's Like That to showcase only original songs (with the exception of a brief instrumental Jimi Hendrix cover.[20][21]) Bonamassa wrote the album in Nashville with three songwriters: Jonathan Cain of Journey; James House, known for his work with Diamond Rio, Dwight Yoakam, and Martina McBride; and Jerry Flowers, who has written for Keith Urban. Bonamassa sought to create serious blues rock in the project instead of three-minute radio hits.[22] The album was recorded at a music studio in the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas.[20] The album charted at number 8 on the Billboard 200, number 1 on the Blues Chart, and number 1 on the Indie Chart.[23]

In May 2015 Bonamassa won a Blues Music Award in the 'Instrumentalist – Guitar' category.[24]

In April 2018 Bonamassa's signature amplifier the ‘59 Twin-Amp JB Edition was released by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.[25]

On June 27, 2018, Bonamassa premiered at the Grand Ole Opry when he made a guest appearance after being introduced by Chase Bryant and playing along with him in his final song of the set, "I Need a Cold Beer."[26]

Collaborations with Beth Hart

Bonamassa was first exposed to Beth Hart's music after seeing her play several television performances. The two would often cross paths when playing shows separately in Europe, and Bonamassa became very impressed with Hart when he caught her show at the Blue Balls festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. While recording his album Dust Bowl and listening to the expanded edition of the Rolling Stones' Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! that features tracks by Ike and Tina Turner, Bonamassa became inspired to try pairing up with a woman, and Beth Hart came to mind. The two musicians met up in a hotel bar in Dublin and soon Bonamassa floated the idea, which Hart accepted immediately, although she was at first under the impression that he was asking her to sing backup vocals on his next album. When she realized that his intention was for her to sing lead vocals, she said "I was floored".[27]

Bonamassa, Hart, and producer Kevin Shirley wrote down lists of soul songs they liked to come up with material for the album, which was named Don't Explain. The group settled on twelve songs, although only ten ended up being recorded. Bonamassa and Hart chose five songs for the album each.[28] Some of Hart's favorite tracks on the album, included "For My Friend" by Bill Withers and "Sinner's Prayer" by Ray Charles. Bonamassa had always wanted to do versions of Brook Benton's "I'll Take Care of You" and "Well Well" written by Delaney Bramlett & Bonnie Bramlett.[29][27]

Their follow-up album, Seesaw was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Blues Album.[30]

On January 26, 2018, Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa released Black Coffee, produced by Kevin Shirley.[31][32]

Other side projects

Bonamassa serves as the guitarist for the hard rock supergroup Black Country Communion. The band released their fourth studio album, "BCCIV" in September 2017.[33]

He is also a member of the jazz-funk band Rock Candy Funk Party. They released their debut album, We Want Groove in 2013 and followed it up with Rock Candy Funk Party Takes New York – Live at the Iridium. The show was recorded over a three night stand at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City. The band played Conan on February 10, 2014.[34]

The Pickup Radio

Bonamassa produced podcasts between January and July 2015 with another guitar aficionado, Matt Abramovitz. The episodes are about "the life and lore of the guitar", with Bonamassa and Abramovitz going in depth about their favorite guitars, guitarists, and occasionally non-guitarists associated with the blues and rock genres.[35]


Unlike many blues rock guitarists that came before him, Bonamassa's influences are British and Irish blues acts rather than American artists. In an interview in Guitarist magazine he cited 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.[36] He also noted that Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood had a big influence when Bonamassa was young. Among other bands, he listed the early blues playing of Jethro Tull as an influence, and named both Martin Barre and Mick Abrahams as important musicians to him.[37][38]

Bonamassa performing at The Tropical Hotdog Manor in 2007
Bonamassa performing at The Tropical Hotdog Manor in 2007

He elaborated on his influences:

"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 Irish musician 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?"[39]

In an October 2008 interview with Express & Star, he said:

"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".

In a December 2012 interview with MusicRadar:

"My friends would ask me, 'Have you heard the new Van Halen record?' And I'd be like, 'Nope.' I was listening to Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush".[40]

Guitar and amplifier collection

Joe Bonamassa playing a Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar with Black Country Communion 2011
Joe Bonamassa playing a Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar with Black Country Communion 2011

Joe Bonamassa is known for his extensive collection of vintage amplifiers and guitars, particularly his Les Paul "bursts". He started collecting guitars at an early age (his parents owned a music shop in upstate New York, which is now called Bonamassa Guitars); his first vintage guitar was a 1954 Stratocaster. He bought guitars compulsively for a while, including many he would never play, and then sold a lot of them to focus on guitars he could actually use. By 2016 he had fewer than 100, including some recreations of vintage guitars from the Gibson Custom Shop that he uses for touring. The heart of his collection was a set of three Gibson Les Paul sunbursts from 1958 to 1960.[41][42]

Bonamassa affectionately refers to the area of his home with vintage gear as the "Bona-seum".[43] "Joe Bonamassa has been playing, buying and collecting vintage guitars and amps for most of his life. ...he has a vast collection, enough to create his own museum of rare and vintage gear: the Bona-seum."[44] Bonamassa is also known for his love of vintage guitars known as "Bursts" (A burst is a 1958–1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard). These "Burst" guitars are among the most expensive electric guitars in the world, and Bonamassa owns several examples and he tours with them.[45] In a 2019 Guitar World interview, Bonamassa revealed that he has more than 400 guitars and 400 amplifiers.[46]


Solo Studio Albums

Solo Live Albums

With Black Country Communion

With Rock Candy Funk Party

With Beth Hart

With Sleep Eazys

  • Easy to Buy, Hard to Sell (2020)

Other Appearances


  1. ^ Jackson, Ernie (January 2011). Guitar – Ernie Jackson – Google Boeken. ISBN 9781446301388. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  2. ^ "Live from Nerdville with Joe Bonamassa - Episode 26 - S.E. Cupp" on YouTube. November 18, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Joe Bonamassa to Make Radio City Debut This Winter". October 1, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  4. ^ "Blues Albums". Joe Bonamassa Album & Song Chart History. Billboard. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
  5. ^ Ross, Brian. "Joe Bonamassa: The Best Living Guitarist You've Never Heard Of..." November 1, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  6. ^ "Joe Bonamassa". November 1, 2019. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  7. ^ Bienstock, Richard (November 13, 2019). "Joe Bonamassa finally reveals how many guitars and amps are in his mammoth collection". Guitar World. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  8. ^ Browning, Tamara (May 3, 2012). "Guitarist Joe Bonamassa born to play the blues". State Journal-Register. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Brown, Mick.Brown, Mick (September 2, 2014). "Joe Bonamassa remembers opening for BB King in 1989". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  10. ^ MMC Hall of Fame: Smokin' Joe Bonamassa with End Credits, retrieved February 1, 2020
  11. ^ a b Berick, Mike."Joe Bonamassa: The Quiet Prince". Relix. October 5, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  12. ^ Eduardo Rivadavia. "Review". Joe Bonamassa – A New Day Yesterday. Allmusic. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  13. ^ "Credits". Joe Bonamassa – A New Day Yesterday. Allmusic. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  14. ^ "Joe Bonamassa: Chart History". Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  15. ^ "Joe Bonamassa: Chart History". Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  16. ^ "Joe Bonamassa Live From The Royal Albert Hall". December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Joe Bonamassa to Release Live CD/DVD, 'An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House,' March 26". February 1, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  18. ^ Sculley, Allen. "'Different Shades' of blues rocker Joe Bonamassa". November 6, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  19. ^ Billboard Staff. "Grammy Awards 2014: Full Nominations List". December 6, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  20. ^ a b Mitchell, Ed. "Heavy Lies the Crown." The Blues Magazine, October 2014.
  21. ^ Jeffries, Neil. "Joe Bonamassa: Different Shades of Blue." Classic Rock Magazine, October 2014
  22. ^ Moore, Rick. "Joe Bonamassa Readies Different Shades of Blue with Nashville Cats". August 2, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  23. ^ "Joe Bonamassa to Make Radio City Debut This Winter". October 1, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  24. ^ "2015 Blues Music Awards Winners". Archived from the original on May 19, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  25. ^ March 2018, Guitar World Staff 28. "Fender and Joe Bonamassa Announce '59 Twin Amp JB Edition". guitarworld. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  26. ^ Armstrong, Leslie. "The Opry welcomes blues guitarist with Chase Bryant's performance". Nashville Country Club. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  27. ^ a b Bosso, Joe. "Interview: Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart on their new album, Don't Explain". November 7, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  28. ^ "Joe Bonamassa's Biography". Planet Rock. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  29. ^ Bosso T23:11:00.31Z, Joe. "Interview: Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart on their new album, Don't Explain". MusicRadar. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  30. ^ Billboard Staff (2013). "Grammy Awards 2014: Full Nominations List".
  31. ^ "Hart/Bonamassa announce "Black Coffee"". Blues Rock Review. December 6, 2017. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  32. ^ Maxwell, Jackson (December 6, 2017). "Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa Announce New Album, 'Black Coffee'". Guitar World. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  33. ^ Sculley, Allen. "'Different Shades' of blues rocker Joe Bonamassa". November 6, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  34. ^ "Rock Candy Funk Party To Make Late Night Debut on CONAN, 2/10". January 2, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  35. ^ "The Pickup Radio". Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  36. ^ Guitar Magazine, Issue 265
  37. ^ "Joe Bonamassa Interview". Blues in Britain. June 2, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  38. ^ "Joe Bonamassa Interview: Guitar Interviews". Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  39. ^ Chopik, Chopik. "Joe Bonamassa Interview". Guitar Messenger. Guitar Messenger. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  40. ^ Joe Bosso, "Joe Bonamassa: my top 5 not-so-guilty pleasures of all time", Music Radar, December 7, 2012
  41. ^ Perlmutter, Adam (January 22, 2018). "Joe Bonamassa Shares His Rare Les Pauls and Other Guitars". Guitar Player. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  42. ^ Vinnicombe, Chris. "Meet the Millennial Who Owns Some of the World's Rarest Guitars". guitar. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  43. ^ Tuerk, Jim. "Welcome to Nerdville: Inside Joe Bonamassa's Home Collection". Reverb., LLC. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  44. ^ Scapelliti, Christopher. "See Joe Bonamassa's Vintage Guitar Museum in New Video and Interactive Tour". Guitarworld. Future Publishing Limited Quay House. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  45. ^ Mead, David. "One for the road: Joe Bonamassa". Music Radar. MusicRadar/Future plc. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  46. ^ Bienstock, Richard. "Joe Bonamassa finally reveals how many guitars and amps are in his mammoth collection". Guitar Player. Future Publishing Limited Quay House. Retrieved November 13, 2019.

External links

This page was last edited on 25 November 2020, at 20:48
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