Bonnie Raitt is an American blues singer-songwriter and guitarist, born on November 8, 1949, in Burbank, California. Her parents were both in the music industry, her father John Raitt was a Broadway singer, and her mother Marjorie Haydock was a pianist. Her early years were spent in Los Angeles, where she developed a love for music and began playing guitar at the age of eight.
Raitt’s early musical influences came from her parents, who introduced her to a variety of musical genres. She was especially drawn to blues music, and was heavily influenced by blues legends such as Mississippi Fred McDowell, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters. She also discovered the music of Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and Judy Collins, which would later influence her songwriting.
In the late 1960s, Raitt attended Radcliffe College, where she continued to play guitar and perform at local coffeehouses. After graduating in 1970, she moved to Philadelphia and became a regular performer at a local club called the Gaslight Café. It was there that she was discovered by a talent scout from Warner Bros. Records, who signed her to a recording contract.
Raitt’s self-titled debut album was released in 1971, but it failed to make a significant impact on the charts. However, her follow-up album, “Give It Up,” released in 1972, featured the hit single “Too Long at the Fair,” which helped to establish her as a rising star in the blues-rock scene. Over the next few years, Raitt released a string of successful albums, including “Takin’ My Time” (1973), “Streetlights” (1974), and “Home Plate” (1975).
She is known for her incredible slide guitar playing on her Fender Stratocaster that she calls Bronwie. The guitar is a 65′ body with a neck from another year. Also known as a Partscaster.
Despite her success, Raitt struggled with drug and alcohol addiction throughout much of the 1970s. However, she managed to overcome her addiction and released her breakthrough album, “Nick of Time,” in 1989. The album was a critical and commercial success, selling over five million copies and earning Raitt four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
Raitt’s subsequent albums, including “Luck of the Draw” (1991), “Longing in Their Hearts” (1994), and “Silver Lining” (2002), continued to showcase her unique blend of blues, rock, and folk music. She also collaborated with a variety of other artists throughout her career, including John Lee Hooker, Ruth Brown, and B.B. King.
In addition to her successful recording career, Raitt has also been a passionate advocate for social and environmental causes. She has been involved with organizations such as the No Nukes Movement, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and the National Resources Defense Council. In recognition of her philanthropic efforts, she was awarded the Americana Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
Over the course of her career, Raitt has won a total of 10 Grammy Awards, including Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for “Nick of Time” and “Something to Talk About,” and Best Traditional Blues Album for “Slipstream” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby.”
She recently won the Grammy in 2023 for Song Of The Year for her track “Just Like That.” She has also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.
Raitt is a bona fide blues legend who continues to influence and inspire both young and old blue guitarist and listeners.
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