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Joe Bonamassa: Guitar Hero, The Next Generation

The guitar hero superman started with Jimi Hendrix and continues today. There is a long list of great ones: Rory Gallagher, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Leslie West, Gary Moore, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and on and on. They could and can play, look cool, have tremendous instruments and tons of amplification.

Joe Bonamassa and Robert Randolph (Photo: Alex G.)

Joe Bonamassa is a current guitar hero — and a savant. He is 40 years old—and opened for B.B. King 28 years Bonamassa also is productive. Wikipedia says that he has released 15 albums in the last 13 years – and 11 of those have reached number one on the Billboard Blues chart.

Bonamassa was born in upstate New York. His dad was a fan of British rock, so he heard plenty of Clapton, Jeff Beck and others. He was tutored by Danny Gatton, who was billed as “the world’s greatest unknown guitarist.” He toured the upstate New York/Pennsylvania area as a school boy. The B.B. King pairing wasn’t a trick or a sideshow: He opened for the King at 20 shows.

ago.The bio says that Bonamassa cites three albums as his greatest influences: “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton” (which also is called “The Beano Album”), “Irish Tour” by Rory Gallagher and “Goodbye Cream.” He also names early Jethro Tull and Vaughan’s “Texas Flood” as influences, according to the profile.

This review, from Alan Cox at Sonic Perspectives, does a good job of describing what Joe Bonamassa’s latest studio album is: “Fortunately with Redemption, Joe’s 13th studio release, he and producer Kevin Shirley conspire to use every single crayon within the blue color box to deliver one of his best studio releases to date. Bonamassa has never sought to hide his affinity for guitar based 70s classic rock, and his Black Country Communion project (which includes the son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, as well as Deep Purple alumni Glenn Hughes), gave him plenty of room to conjure up the ghost of Jimmy Page.” Check it out by clicking here or on the image at Amazon or here for iTunes. 
The AllMusic profile, written by MacKenzie Wilson, has him opening for King at age eight. Wilson writes that one of his first bands was Bloodline, which featured the sons of famous musicians: Waylon Krieger (the son of Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger), Erin Davis (Miles’ son) and Berry Oakley, Jr.

The bios provide all the information on who Bonamassa has played with – it obviously is a long and star-studded list – and other details. The end of the Wikipedia piece has the important evidence that Bonamassa wants to be more than a guitar hero: Last year, he went on an acoustic tour that included two nights at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It featured Chinese cellist Tina Guo (who also plays the erhu, a two-string bowed instrument) and Hossam Ramzy, an Egyptian percussionist and composer.

Above is “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” and below is “Mountain Climbing.” For what it’s worth, Bonamassa — or, more likely his team — have taken great care to put together a collection of extremely high quality and well produced videos.

Sonic Perspectives was cited in the blue box.