Joe Bonamassa onstage with a Music Man Y2D outfitted with two
humbuckers, a single-coil, and a solid-brass tail block.
Joe Bonamassa, one of today’s hottest blues/blues-rock players, has enjoyed an extraordinarily charmed life—at least when it comes to all things guitar. His parents not only owned a music shop in upstate New York, they also owned a very cool record collection that turned him on to artists like Guitar Slim and Eric Clapton when he was practically a toddler. Later, they hooked him up with an enviable selection of instruments. Bonamassa proceeded to learn Stevie Ray Vaughan licks at the ripe age of 7, and by 12, as a protégé of Telecaster legend Danny Gatton, was skilled enough to open for blues god B.B. King.
Since 2000, Bonamassa, now 34, has perfected his trademark brand of electrifying blues-rock on more than a dozen albums. His searing lines and soulful vocals have proven just as popular with guitarists as with the general public. At press time, his latest solo album, Dust Bowl, had climbed to #37 on the US charts. But thanks to his insatiable playing appetite and tireless work ethic, Bonamassa has also been attracting attention in the rock super group Black Country Communion, which is fronted by former Deep Purple bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes.
Black Country Communion vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes wields
his Nash PB57 while Derek Sherinian pounds the ivories.
Having joined DP in 1974, and later doing a stint with Black Sabbath, Hughes had a hands-on role in shaping the heavier strains of the British blues-rock movement that is one of Bonamassa’s main benchmarks. In Black Country Communion, Bonamassa and Hughes are flanked by a pair of formidable musicians—the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s son Jason on drums and ex-Dream Theater wizard Derek Sherinian on keyboards. On 2, the follow-up to BCC’s acclaimed 2010 debut, the Anglo-American quartet plays a tight, fierce brand of rock that shows another side of Bonamassa. We recently spoke to Bonamassa and Hughes about their new rock ’n’ roll adventures and how they approach their music.
For those who haven’t heard yet, how did you guys come to form Black Country Communion?
Hughes: I met Joe around the time that he was on the rise, about five years ago, at a NAMM show in Los Angeles. It was a pleasure to encounter this really nice lad who grew up playing my music and Led Zeppelin’s. We befriended each other immediately. Joe came over to my house a few times to have lunch and play some music, and we casually talked about making a record together. Jump forward three years, and producer Kevin Shirley [Rush, Dream Theater, Iron Maiden] suggested we get together with Jason and Derek. After that, it all happened so quickly. Within a month, we were in the studio making our first album. The rest is history.
Bonamassa (right) rocks a flamed-maple Les Paul plugged into a pair of Marshall JCM2000s and a vintage Laney Klipp head, while Hughes routes his Nash PB57 through dual Laney Nexus-Tube stacks.