Joe Bonamassa Says Eric Clapton Was Big But Not The Biggest Influence On Him

During a recent interview with Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, Joe Bonamassa talked about his early childhood and the musicians that influenced him the most but confessed that Eric Clapton was actually not his biggest inspiration.

As you may know, the blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa started his music career rather early at the age of 12 when he opened for B.B. King. To this day, he’s released 15 studio albums and 11 of those albums ranked No.1 on the Billboard Blues charts. During his childhood, Joe was one of the lucky musicians who had the chance to learn from the stars that others admired.

Joe’s father Len Bonamassa was a well-respected guitar dealer and player which made it easier for the young musician to follow his dreams. His greatest mentor was the blues star Danny Gatton who didn’t only teach Joe how to play the guitar, but also helped him learn and understand the history of music.

In previous interviews, Bonamassa had said that there were three albums that really inspired him as a kid; the ‘Beano’ album by the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, ‘Irish Tour’ by Rory Gallagher, and ‘Goodbye’ by Cream. However, in his recent interview, he said that it was mostly watching guys like Paul Kossoff and listening to Danny Gatton that got him where he is now, rather than Eric Clapton.

Joe Bonamassa described his biggest influences as follows:

“If you have a long-barred solo, you don’t want to just play everything you know in the first 30 seconds and then have another minute left to rehash those first 30 seconds, you want to tell a story where it peaks and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

I learned that a lot from watching guys like Paul Kossoff play – Eric Clapton was big, but as far as figuring who to listen to, Danny Gatton was the biggest for me. That, and my father.

Danny would sit me down like, ‘Hey, kid, you know a little bit about the blues- not a lot, but you know a little bit. Are you hip to Hank Garland?’ I’m like, ‘No…’ ‘Are you hip to Gene Vincent? Do you know who Les Paul is?’

And of course, as a 12-year-old, you’re like, ‘Yeah, I have a Les Paul at home.’ And he goes ‘Les Paul and Mary Ford…’ Next thing you know… I mean, just hanging with him as a kid, I was blessed to do that, and my life went from mono to stereo.”

You can watch the whole interview below.