Joe Bonamassa was already a well-established electric blues guitarist by the time he released his debut album, A New Day Yesterday, in 2000.
Though he was unknown to the music-listening world at large, Bonamassa had spent more than a decade onstage beginning at the age of 10. In addition to touring Western New York and Pennsylvania with his own band, he’d shared the stage with numerous guitar greats, including B.B. King, for whom he opened during a 1989 tour when he was just 12 years old.
One of the greatest onstage moments in his early career came in 1991, when “Smokin’ Joe Bonamassa” (as he was billed at the time) appeared alongside Yngwie Malmsteen, Albert Lee, Vivian Campbell and Steve Lukather at a memorial jam tribute to electric-guitar pioneer Leo Fender, who had died that same year.
A clip from that night’s show can be seen above, with Bonamassa trading solos with Robben Ford. The influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan can be heard and seen in Bonamassa’s performance, from his note selection to his hat choice.
Filmed at the Bren Centre at the University of California in August 1991, the full performance was released on VHS release in the mid Nineties but has not seen an official release since then.