Joe Bonamassa Recalls Auditioning For UFO To Replace Michael Schenker

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The successful singer, songwriter, and guitarist Joe Bonamassa talked about his experiences in his audition to join UFO as a guitarist after Michael Schenker on the 955KLOS YouTube channel.

The 44-year-old blues-rock guitarist’s career began when he played at the opening of B.B. King. He has created 15 solo albums which got him a nomination for a Grammy Award in 2013. Paul Kassoff was one of his influences in the rock world that led him to this level of success. In a recent interview, Bonamassa revealed that he auditioned for UFO and started to listen to Kassoff after this audition.

Apparently, in the late ’90s, he auditioned to replace Schenker when he was only 18 years old. He stated back then, he thought they had a pretty good time at the audition but he was not hired. Instead, the band hired Vinnie Moore who Bonamassa also said was the right choice.

Joe Bonamassa recalled his audition as follows:

“Not a lot of people know this about me but when I was 18 years old and started on my full full-time solo career, I auditioned for UFO in the late ’90s. They were looking for a guitar player to replace Michael Schenker, who I think they’d have another falling out, there was a love/hate relationship there.

And I traveled from upstate New York to Columbus, Ohio, and I auditioned in Pete Way’s basement with Jerry Shirley on drums from Humble Pie, another big band! So I’m 18 years old, I got a Flying V, and we’re playing ‘Lights Out,’ and just whatever.

Pete goes to me about halfway through the audition, and we’re having a great time… But ultimately, the gig went to Vinnie Moore, which he was way more right for that gig than I was.

After revealing his experience with the UFO audition, Bonamassa also mentioned that his all-time inspiration Paul Kossoff, the Free guitarist, was actually introduced to him by Pete Way. Joe also told the story of how Way told him he resembled Kossoff and made him a tape which he listened in his car as life-changing events.

Here is what he fully stated:

“Pete goes, ‘You sound like Paul Kossoff! Your vibrato is like Paul’s!’ I’m like, ‘What’s a Paul Kossoff?’ And he made me a tape of the best of Free, it was just two sides on a Maxell tape, and I played it in the car on the way back, and my life was changed.

You’re hearing ‘Songs of Yesterday,’ ‘Walk in My Shadow’… And it’s just this wonderfully simple but devastatingly effective power trio with a lead singer. And that just set me on this journey of really being a dilettante of the British blues art form because I really dug their take on things.”

Although he did not get to be a guitarist for UFO, he talked about the experience as a life-changing event. Most of the comments on the interview were about Bonamassa being an excellent storyteller. With his storytelling skills, he revealed his story of auditioning for UFO and his introduction to Kossoff’s music who later became his idol.

You can watch the full interview below.