Bonnie Raitt Part One
I’m now doing Bonnie Raitt Part One, because she’s number one in my book. Theirs so many ways to start her life story, but, I’ll try it from the beginning.
Bonnie Lynn Raitt (born November 8, 1949) is an American blues singer, guitarist, songwriter, and activist.
Raitt in 2000
Bonnie Lynn Raitt
November 8, 1949 (age 69).
Burbank, California, U.S.
Blues blues rock roots rock Americana.
Singer songwriter musician.
Vocals guitar • Electric piano.
During the 1970s, Raitt released a series of roots-influenced albums that incorporated elements of blues, rock, folk and country. In 1989, after several years of critical acclaim but little commercial success, she had a major hit with the album Nick of Time. The following two albums, Luck of the Draw (1991) and Longing in Their Hearts (1994 ), were also multimillion sellers, generating several hit singles, including “Something to Talk About“, “Love Sneakin‘ Up on You“, and the ballad “I Can’t Make You Love Me“ (with Bruce Hornsby on piano).
Raitt has received 10 Grammy Awards. She is listed as number 50 in Rolling Stone‘s list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time“ and number 89 on the magazine‘s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time“. Australian Country MusicArtist Graeme Connors has said, “Bonnie Raitt does something with a lyric no one else can do; she bends it and twists it right into your heart.“
Raitt was born in Burbank, California, the daughter of the Broadway musical star John Raitt and his first wife, the pianist Marjorie Haydock. Raitt is of Scottish ancestry; her ancestors constructed Rait Castle near Nairn. She was raised in the Quaker tradition. She began playing guitar at Camp Regis-Applejack in Paul Smiths, New York, at an early age. Later she gained notice for her bottleneck-style guitar playing. Raitt says she played “a little at school and at a summer camp“ in New York.
After graduating from Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1967 Raitt entered Radcliffe College, majoring in Social Relations and African studies. She said her “plan was to travel to Tanzania, where President Julius Nyerere was creating a government based on democracy and socialism“. Raitt became friends with blues promoter Dick Waterman. During her second year of college,Raitt left school for a semester and moved to Philadelphia with Waterman and otherlocal musicians. Raitt says it was an “opportunity that changed everything.“
In the summer of 1970, she played with her brother David on stand up bass with Mississippi Fred McDowell at the Philly Folk Festival as well as Opening for John Hammond at the Gaslight Cafe in New York, she was seen by a reporter from Newsweek, who began to spread the word about her performance. Scouts from major record companies were soon attending her shows to watch her play. She eventually accepted an offer from Warner Bros., who soon released her debut album, Bonnie Raitt, in 1971. The album was warmly received by the music press, with many writers praising her skills as an interpreter and as a bottleneck guitarist; at the time, few women in popular music had strong reputations as guitarists.
While admired by those who saw her perform, and respected by her peers, Raitt gained little public acclaim for her work. Her critical stature continued to grow but record sales remained modest. Her second album, Give It Up, was released in 1972 to positive reviews. Though many critics who still regard it as her best work, it did not change her commercial fortunes. 1973‘s Takin‘ My Time was also met with critical acclaim, but these notices were not matched by the sales.
Raitt began to receive greater press coverage, including a 1975 cover story for Rolling Stone, but with 1974‘s Streetlights, reviews for her work were becoming increasingly mixed. By this point, Raitt was already experimenting with different producers and different styles, and she began to adopt a more mainstream sound that continued through 1975‘s Home Plate. In 1976, Raitt made an appearance on Warren Zevon‘s eponymous album.
Raitt performing at the Berkeley Community Theater, 1976– 1977.
1977’s Sweet Forgiveness album gave Raitt her first commercial breakthrough whenit yielded a hit single in her remake of “Runaway.” Recast as a heavy rhythm and blues recording based on a rhythmic groove inspired by Al Green, Raitt’s version of “Runaway” was disparaged by many critics. However, the song‘s commercial success prompted a bidding war for Raitt between Warner Bros. and Columbia Records. “There was this big Columbia– Warner war going on at the time“, recalled Raitt in a 1990 interview. “James Taylor had just left Warner Bros. and made a big album for Columbia … And then, Warner signed Paul Simon away from Columbia, and they didn’t want me to have a hit record for Columbia– no matter what! So, I renegotiated my contract, and they basically matched Columbia’s offer. Frankly the deal was a really big deal.”
Warner Brothers held higher expectations for Raitt’s next album, The Glow, in 1979, but it was released to poor reviews as well as modest sales. Raitt would have one commercial success in 1979 when she helped organize the five Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The shows spawned the three-record gold album No Nukes, as well as a Warner Brothers feature film of the same name. The shows featured co-founders Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, John Hall, and Raitt as well as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Doobie Brothers, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Gil Scott-Heron, and numerous others.
In 1980, she appeared as herself in the Paramount film “Urban Cowboy” where she sang “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance.”.
For her next record, 1982’s Green Light, Raitt made a conscious attempt to revisit the sound of her earlier records. However, to her surprise, many of her peers and the media compared her new sound to the burgeoning new wave movement. The album received her strongest reviews in years, but her sales did not improve and this would have a severe impact on her relationship with Warner Brothers.