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“Truth Is, I Hate the Way I Play Guitar”: Joe Bonamassa Speaks Candidly in Our Exclusive Interview

Joe Bonamassa
(Image credit: Future/Joby Sessions)

“Smokin’” Joe Bonamassa had an early start to his illustrious career as a blues guitar hero while sharing stages with the likes of B.B. King and Danny Gatton at age 12. But 30-plus years and 11 Billboard Blues chart-topping albums later, the most high-profile blues guitarist around has recently had a couple of realizations: “I’m not a guitar player; I’m not a singer or songwriter. I’m an entertainer,” Bonamassa told GP in our exclusive interview.

“What I do onstage is an extension of my personality, which then morphs into a character that does not exist outside of the theater. I like not being recognized.”

Joe Bonamassa performs at the Fifth Annual LOVE ROCKS NYC Benefit Concert Livestream for God’s Love We Deliver at The Beacon Theatre on June 03, 2021 in New York City.

Joe Bonamassa performs at the Love Rocks NYC benefit concert at the Beacon Theatre on June 03, 2021 in New York City. (Image credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for LOVE ROCKS NYC/God's Love We Deliver)

In this intimate and revealing conversation with GP “the man in the suit” discusses the gulf between self-image and the public eye. “When I put on the suit, I become “that guy.” And therein lies part of the success and part of the problem,” reveals Bonamassa before going on to confess, “Truth is, I hate the way I play guitar. I hate the way I sing. I know I can do it pretty well, but I wish I could do it so much differently.”

Read more surprising revelations (such as his desire to play guitar in somebody else’s band and why he never wants to shoot a TikTok video) in our latest issue – out now!

Guitar Player issue 714 December 2021 cover

(Image credit: Future)

Due out on October 29th Joe Bonamassa’s latest album – Time Clocks – can be purchased directly from his website (opens in new tab).


Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.