Joe Bonamassa: ’Never Listen to People Online, Be Who You Are’

According to modern blues rock (or, shall we say, “blues-based“) guitar legend Joe Bonamassa, you shouldn’t pay too much attention to what people are saying. Instead, as he revealed in a recently published chat with Guitar World, you should just stay true to yourself and “be who you are.”

“Don’t listen to anybody else; only listen to yourself,” offered Bonamassa when asked to share advice with the new generation of guitar players.

Joe, who started getting attention even as a kid with his incredible guitar-playing talent, always stuck to his ways, ultimately making it big as an independent artist. Although deeply rooted in blues, he’s still incredibly versatile and is pretty much like a walking living encyclopedia of modern guitar.

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To further add to this argument, Bonamassa advises young musicians not to strictly follow the rules all the time, explain:

“Don’t follow the rulebook, and never listen to the people online because they don’t know anything.”

“And they especially don’t know what’s best for you,” Joe added. “These days, everybody thinks they know what’s best for other people and have suggestions and all sorts of things to say about creative things.”

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“They say things like, ‘Oh, you’re not a real blues player’, which is all bulls***.”

As Joe concludes, those who achieve the greatest results as guitar players simply don’t care too much about what people say:

“So, my message to young players is: be who you are. People will respond with enthusiasm and conviction. People who get it don’t care about rulebooks and stupid internet polls. That’s the best advice I can give any young player.”

This year, Bonamassa is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his third album “Blues Deluxe.” In his mid-20s at the time, Joe did mostly covers of some blues classics, along with a few original pieces.

The two decades of this album’s release are marked in a special way — a new record titled “Blues Deluxe Vol. 2.” Serving as somewhat of a continuation of his 2003 record, it features two original tunes along with Joe’s covers of great artists, such as Albert King, Fleetwood Mac, and Guitar Slim, among others.

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Speaking of this new record, he explained:

“The thing to understand about ‘Vol. 2’ is that, when I was making ‘Blues Deluxe,’ there were no guarantees. I didn’t know there would be a ‘Vol. 2’ because ‘Blues Deluxe’ was a last-ditch effort to suffer for everything. It was a last-ditch effort to make a name for myself, and it worked.”

Joe also added:

“So, with ‘Vol. 2,’ I wanted to do something for the 20th anniversary of that. There are extra tracks, and I asked my friend Josh Smith to help me produce. We went back in, picked eight covers and a couple of originals, and found a balance between those.”

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“Blues Deluxe Vol. 2” came out in early October this year. So far, it’s getting mostly positive reviews, with critics praising his clever arrangements and additions to the blues classics.

In another recent interview, Bonamassa discussed his style as a musician and pointed out that he doesn’t see himself as a “traditional blues player” but rather a “blues-based” one instead. After all, as he explained, his influences were from Great Britain and not his home country of the US. He said:

“So I’m a blues-based guitarist. I mean, I’m not a traditional blues player by any standard — my avenue, my gateway to the blues, was through London, not Mississippi or Chicago.”

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“And I got to the original masters through people like Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Alexis Korner, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers — [who] should be in the Hall of Fame, anyway — Rory Gallagher, Gary Morris, all those people that I first listened to when I was 11 and 12 going, ‘This is what I want to do.'”

However, after meeting the King himself, things changed for Joe:

“Then I met B.B. King, and then I heard Son House, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and all of that.”

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“But my introduction to the blues was almost like a kid from the 1960s listening to Led Zeppelin and going, ‘What’s this ‘Whole Lotta Love’ thing about?’ And then you go, ‘Oh, it’s awesome.'”

“I’m kind of a product of my musical influences, my upbringing, my geographical location, just like anybody else. You only listen to what’s around you. My dad would play Jethro Tull, just as religiously as he would play Guitar Slim.”

Photo: Florian Stangl (Joe Bonamassa – 2013 World Tour – Meistersingerhalle Nuernberg – 11-03-2013 (8557288377))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.