Silverbelle Bonnie

Bonnie Raitt poses for a portrait in August 1971 near Schwenksville, Pennsylvania. (Photo by David Gahr)

[One time in the early 1990s, I went to meet with my client Real Goods Trading Corporation in Ukiah, CA. The president of Real Goods was John Schaeffer, now better known as SB John of the Mendocino Bonobos. He was supporting a local politician named Dan Hamburg and had purchased two tickets to a fund-raiser/concert in nearby Santa Rosa. John had another commitment, however, and gave the tickets to me.

The concert featured Holly Near, who was divine, and Mendocino native, Bonnie Raitt, performing acoustically. An unexpected treat, however, was when she brought onstage her father, the Broadway legend, John Raitt. This clip from the David Letterman Show captures some of the fun and excitement from tht performance. SB SM]

Bonnie Raitt, on getting started in music: My hobby was playing music. So here I was hanging out with all these blues guys, my heroes, because of the man I met at Cambridge when I was a freshman who managed Son House and Mississippi John Hurt and Buddy Guy. We started hanging out, and I took a semester off, because I knew a lot of those guys were older and they weren’t going to live forever. This was an opportunity to hang out with my heroes, and I could always go back to school. In the beginning, to have this career drop in my lap because I happened to play pretty good blues guitar for a girl — which was kind of a joke at the time, but it’s what got my foot in the door. The fact I could play like I did and it was unusual.

When I was at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, which I had gone to as a fan — it was unbelievable to me. It would continue to be unbelievable until about my third album. I kept waiting for Warner Bros. to say, “OK, that was fun, but you’re not selling, so see you later.” But I signed with them because they didn’t care about selling. They said make whatever record you want and we’ll make our money from Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.

Here’s Bonnie performing the Del Shannon classic Runaway live in 1977. You can see why she is, indeed, the First Lady of Rock ‘n Roll and a true Silverbelle.

3 thoughts on “Silverbelle Bonnie

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  1. Have followed Bonnie since the early seventies. Use to watch her perform at Jack’s, the Garage, etc. in Cambridge…also at the UMass/Amherst dining halls.
    All when she could easily sit and talk to the small groups in the audiences. She is a classic and one of the best…

  2. How cool is that memory! I grew up with her father’s show tunes in the background. Never made the connection until I saw them on stage together. Bonnie is the proverbial class act.

  3. Thanks for the visit with Bonnie and her handsome Dad I remember from childhood. Bonnie has remained one of our lifetime favorites and it’s good to remember her roots and her Dad’s great voice.

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