Legendary Guitarist Joe Bonamassa Talks Redemption, His Favorite Guitars & Most Memorable Place He Ever Played

Photo Credit: Marty Moffatt

With 21 #1 Billboard blues albums to his credit (the most of any musician in history), legendary guitarist Joe Bonamassa first made a name for himself when he toured with B.B. King at just 12 years old.

Since then, the guitar prodigy tours globally more than 200 days each year. Right now, the two-time Grammy nominated blues-rock legend is on his summer tour that will be followed by a visit to Tel Aviv, Australia and New Zealand before embarking on his fall US tour in October.

Bonamassa took some time out of his busy touring schedule to talk about redemption, some of his favorite guitars and the most memorable place he has ever played.

Tell us a little about the inspiration behind your 13th studio release, Redemption.

We released a record called Blues of Desperation back in 2016 and this seemed to be the next logical step. To look inward before looking outward. Sometimes you have to blame yourself before you can blame others. And that’s kind of the frame of mind I’ve been in for the last year or so.

You are one of the biggest names in blues rock today and at just 12 years old, you toured with B.B. King. At what age did you first become interested in learning more about the blues? 

I started playing guitar at the age of four and even at a young age I was listening to records from my dad’s collection. The sound of British blues guys like Eric Clapton, Paul Kossoff, etc. really got my attention as a kid.

You perform with a lot of vintage guitars. What are some of your favorites? 

For me, that is like trying to pick a favorite child. I would say my 1959/1960 Gibson Les Paul Sunbursts, the 1955 Howard Reed Black Fender Strat, the 1958 Amos Flying V. The list could go on and on. 

Photo Credit: Christy Goodwin

Who have been some of the most influential and inspirational guitar players for you throughout your career? 

Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Peter Green, Jeff Beck, Paul Kossoff, Albert King. Again, the list can go on.

Do you think social media, online music and sites like YouTube have positively impacted your career? 

Yes, I would definitely agree. A lot of my fans found me on a YouTube video that someone took from one of my live shows and these people become lifelong fans. With social media, it makes it quicker and easier for the fans to interact with the musician but, of course, you will have pros and cons with any new cultural phenomenon.

You play about 200 concerts each year. Most memorable place you have ever played? 

I would have to say either my 2009 Royal Albert Hall show in London because the venue is amazing and Eric Clapton sat in and my first show at Red Rocks, we recorded a DVD of cover songs from the three kings of the blues. The songs were amazing and we had a blast playing them for the over 8,000 fans!

What keeps you inspired to keep performing such a rigorous schedule?

I am a bit of a work-a-holic. Also, I try not to rest on my laurels and I am always trying new things and making my sound better. Also, it helps that I love to play and the fans are amazing.

Photo Credit: Jen Rosenstein