Personalities | Bonnie Raitt | Country Blues Class | Guitar Heroes

Blue-eyed soul and country guitarist and singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt was born in Burbank, California in 1949, the daughter of Broadway vocalist John Raitt and pianist-singer Marge Goddard.

At the age of eight, she was given a Stella guitar as a Christmas present, which her parents insisted she play at family gatherings. Raitt became a devotee of blues and folk music at 14 upon hearing an album recorded at the Newport Blues Festival.

She began studying at Harvard in 1967 and started to play clubs and coffee houses in the Boston area, supporting blues legends like Muddy Waters, Son House and John Lee Hooker. Leaving college for a full-time career in music, she was opening for Mississippi Fred McDowell in New York in 1970 when word began to spread of her talents, which led to a recording contract with Warner. Her debut album, Bonnie Raitt (1971), mixed covers of blues standards with Bonnie’s own material. Subsequent albums matched its critical acclaim, but sold in modest quantities until she achieved a breakthrough with ‘Runaway’ from Sweet Forgiveness (1977). Her momentum stalled, however, and she was dropped by Warner in 1983.

Without a record contract for much of the 1980s, Bonnie was struggling with alcohol and drugs, but kept touring and remained politically active, singing on the anti-apartheid song ‘Sun City’ and appearing at Amnesty International benefit concerts. After signing to Capitol in 1989, Bonnie finally achieved commercial success with three chart-topping albums: Nick Of Time (1989), Luck Of The Draw (1991), and Longing In Their Hearts (1994), which earned her an armful of Grammy Awards. Raitt was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2000. Since then, she has mixed recording and performing with political activism. Silver Lining was released in 2002, Souls Alike in 2005 and Slipstream in 2012.

Since 1969, Bonnie has used her Fender Stratocaster at every gig, backed up by her signature-model Stratocasters, to avoid constant retuning. She also has a Gibson ES-175 and a Guild F-50. Bonnie likes to adapt her playing style to suit each song.

Essential Recordings

Solo: Sweet Forgiveness

Solo: Nick Of Time

Solo: Luck Of The Draw

Solo: Longing In Their Hearts

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