Joe Bonamassa (born May 8, 1977 in Utica, New York) is an American blues rock guitarist, singer.
Bonamassa was born and raised in Utica, New York to parents that owned and ran a guitar shop. As a fourth-generation musician, he recalls knowing he wanted to be a musician as early as age four. With a great-grandfather and grandfather who both played trumpet, and a father who plays guitar, Bonamassa credits his parents in fostering an appreciation of music in his life as early as he can remember. When he was a young child, he would listen to his parents' large record collection. He recalls at age 7, sitting with his parents on Saturdays and listening to Guitar Slim, Bonnie Raitt, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Eric Clapton, and Jethro Tull. Thus, he sees his music as an amalgam of all the various rock and blues he heard as a child.
He received his first guitar from his father at the age of 4, and by age 7 he was playing Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix tunes note for note. At the age of 11, during a short period of being mentored by Danny Gatton, he learned such styles as country and jazz as well as heavy rock. During this time with Gatton, Bonamassa sat in with Gatton's band whenever they played in New York. He first opened for B. B. King at 12 years of age. After first hearing him play, King said, “This kid's potential is unbelievable. He hasn't even begun to scratch the surface. He's one of a kind.” At 14, he was invited to attend a Fender guitar event; during that trip to the West Coast he met Berry Oakley, Jr. Bonamassa and Berry founded the group Bloodline with Miles Davis's son Erin and Robby Krieger's son Waylon. They released one album which produced two chart singles — "Stone Cold Hearted", and "Dixie Peach." He has since played with other music greats including Buddy Guy, Foreigner, Robert Cray, Stephen Stills, Joe Cocker, Gregg Allman, Steve Winwood, Paul Jones, Ted Nugent, Warren Haynes, Eric Clapton, and Derek Trucks.
Unlike other successful blues-rock guitarists, Bonamassa has cited his influences as being British and Irish blues acts, rather than American acts. Within the blues genre, hearing the traditional blues players, as with Guitar Slim, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and all the traditional American blues players, (with the exception of B.B. King), comparing the music in the United States to the "European" versions of the blues, Bonamassa found the English blues, fostered by notable musicians such as the Jeff Beck Group, Eric Clapton, and the Irish blues player Rory Gallagher to be far more interesting to him than the original Delta blues players. In an interview in Guitarist magazine (issue 265), he cited the 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. He also stated that Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood was a big influence at a young age.