Bonnie Raitt will be in concert tonight at Delta Downs. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, May 05, 2012 9:14 PM
Bonnie Raitt had an epiphany in 1969 as a college freshman, much to her parent’s chagrin.
Raitt, then at Radcliffe, met 65-year-old bluesman Dick Waterman and started playing with and listening to him and other old blues artists. She was so moved, she dropped out of college and moved to Philadelphia.
The rest is rock history.
“These people had become my friends, my mentors. I took the semester off. It was an opportunity that young white girls just don’t get. And, it turns out, an opportunity that changed everything,” Raitt told Rolling Stone.
Raitt will be in concert tonight, May 4, at Delta Downs.
Raitt, the only daughter of former Broadway star John Raitt (“Carousel,” “Oklahoma” and “Pajama Game”) and Marjorie Haydock, a pianist and actress, had learned to play the guitar by age 8.
And, she said, “There was always music in our house, Momma playing the piano and Dad singing.” It provided a natural learning environment for the accomplished, brassy blues singer and bottleneck guitar player.
Raitt cut her first album in 1971, “Bonnie Raitt,” for Warner Bros.
Her 18th album, “Slipstream,” was released in April. It will be the focal point of her current 80-stop tour.
Her rise to musical stardom was less than meteoric. She had cut nine albums by 1988, several to critical acclaim, but not many big paydays. Additionally, she was partying hard and living the road life.
“Let’s put it this way: when we were touring, we were pushing the fun button. I was 37 and chunky. A bunch of friends of mine were getting sober, and so did Stevie Ray (Vaughan).
“When I saw him (Vaughan) play sober, I knew it was time to grow up,” Raitt told Rolling Stone.
She grew way up. Her tenth album, “Nick of Time” (1989), not only won three Grammy Awards in 1990, but was the first of four albums to go platinum. The others were “Luck of the Draw,” “Longing in Their Hearts” and “Fundamental.”
During the following nine years, Raitt had 15 singles on the charts. She added a fourth Grammy for her collaboration with blues master John Lee Hooker on Hooker’s album “The Healer” in a duet of “In the Mood.”
She is an ironic blues star — a white, red-headed woman who plays the slide guitar and sings earthy, heart-wrenching love songs. Rolling Stone termed her “A romantic socialist; a politician of the heart.”
B.B. King added, “She is the best slide guitarist.”
Along with recording, Raitt has toured extensively and lent her energy and name to countless activist causes.
Raitt, now 62, has slowed down over the past seven years. She has dealt with the deaths of her mother, father and oldest brother.
Her newest album is the first on her own label, Redwing Records, and has debuted at number six on the charts. So why the grind of a long tour?
“You have to win them over with every show – my dad taught me that. You want to make sure people know you’re even badder than last time,” Raitt told Rolling Stone recently.