Joe Bonamassa Shredded Like a Pro at Just 13 in 1990 TV Debut

Joe Bonamassa’s prowess as a bluesman is undeniable, but what’s astonishing is how skilled he was at just 13 years old. In 1990, young Bonamassa appeared on television, showcasing his virtuosity. After a brief comedic bit, he took the stage with a Fender Telecaster and delivered a face-melting blues rock performance.

His youthful energy was evident as he executed blistering high-speed runs across the fretboard and laid down a funky rhythm that had the crowd clapping along. He started with some classic blues rock licks before transitioning to a harder-edged rock segment that electrified the audience. Even at such a young age, Bonamassa knew how to captivate and engage the crowd.

This TV appearance has garnered 2.8 million views on YouTube, with fans leaving comments like, “Got to see him right around this time. He opened for BB King. Yes, he absolutely was good!” and “When you can play a musical instrument like that at 13, it’s a God-given talent. Some people are born to play the guitar.”

Bonamassa’s journey with the guitar began at age 4, encouraged by his music-loving father, who was a fan of British blues legends like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. By age 12, Bonamassa was already gigging around New York and Pennsylvania. His big break came when BB King invited him to open for about 20 shows. Bonamassa later uploaded a compilation of clips from this tour to YouTube as a tribute to King after his passing in 2015, crediting him with giving him his career.

Reflecting on his experiences with King, Bonamassa shared, “He’s the nicest person I’ve ever met in the music business. He is the blues; the blues is him. He’s still excited about being on the road. I’m not sure I’m going to be still playing ‘The Ballad of John Henry’ aged 88. But I look at BB and that is exactly how I want to live my life.”

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