A blues singer and guitarist from the United States, Bonnie Lynn Raitt. Raitt’s first album, simply named, was published in 1971. Next, she dropped a string of albums that drew from blues, rock, folk, and country, all of which were met with widespread praise.
As Bonnie Lynn Raitt, she entered the world on November 8, 1949, in Burbank, California. Bonnie grew up with brothers David and Steve, and she is the only daughter of actor John Raitt and musician Marjorie Haydock. Marjorie Raitt’s marriage to Dr. James Goddard of the US Public Health Service occurred after her 1970 divorce from Raitt’s father.
John, who was famous for his roles in musicals like “The Pajama Game” and “Carousel,” remarried twice: first to Rosamond Smith and then to Rosemary Kraemer. Since 2004, Marjorie, John, and Steve have all tragically departed away.
Bonnie’s parents fostered an early interest in music in their children; young Raitt took up the piano as a result. She started going to Camp Regis in the Adirondack Mountains every summer after receiving a Stella guitar as a gift when she was eight years old. Before leaving for good at age 15, Raitt was a regular performer at Camp Regis, where she was frequently sought out by the counselors to perform for the other campers.
After graduating from Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, New York, Bonnie enrolled in Harvard’s Radcliffe College, where she studied African Studies and Social Relations before “traveling to Tanzania, where President Julius Nyerere was creating a government based on democracy and socialism.” During her time at university, Raitt sang with the Revolutionary Music Collective and became friends with blues promoter Dick Waterman. She has called her semester in Philadelphia during her sophomore year with Waterman and a group of local artists “the opportunity that changed everything.”
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When Did Bonnie Raitt Pass Away?
Bonnie Raitt is still active at age 73. At the 2023 Grammy Awards, Bonnie Raitt won the award for song of the year.
First Lady Jill Biden surprised a stunned Raitt with an award for her song “Just Like That,” which she dedicated to her musician friend John Prine, who passed away in 2020 after a long struggle with coronavirus.
On April 27, 1991, Bonnie wed actor Michael O’Keefe; the couple later split up in 2000. In 2012, Raitt revealed that she has battled substance abuse and told the world about it “As one author told “Parade” magazine, “I felt I had to live that partying lifestyle in order, to be honest, but in fact, if you keep it up too long, all you’re going to be is sloppy or dead.
This past week marked the 25th anniversary of my first day of sobriety. I count myself among the fortunate. Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’ song may have made some people laugh, but it broke my heart to hear her sing it because it seemed to me that she was headed down a dangerous path that ultimately ended with her death, as did the death of Whitney Houston.”
Bonnie has been an activist since the late 1970s when she joined Musicians United for Safe Energy. She has also shown support for the Alliance for Survival, the Abalone Alliance, Little Kids Rock, Reverb, and No Nukes. She has paid for new gravestones to be erected in honor of Fred McDowell (one of her musical mentors), Tommy Johnson, Memphis Minnie, and Sam Chatmon, and she contributed to a 2004 Indian Ocean disaster relief record in 2008 titled Aid Still Required. In 1991, Raitt was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree by Berklee College of Music in Boston.
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Nominations and Awards
As of this writing, Raitt has won 10 of her 26 Grammy nominations. Following the success of “Nick of Time,” for which she won Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, and Album of the Year at the 1990 Grammys, as well as Best Traditional Blues Recording for “I’m In The Mood,” and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Good Man, Good Woman,” at the 1991 Grammys, she went on to win Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for ” They won in the following categories: Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo for “Luck Of The Draw,” Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for “Something To Talk About” in 1992, Best Pop Album for “Longing In Their Hearts” in 1995, Best Rock Instrumental Performance for “SRV Shuffle” in 1997, and Best Americana Album for “Slipstream” in 2013. For “VH1 Honors,” Bonnie was nominated for a CableACE Award in 1995 alongside Al Green and Mavis Staples for Performance in a Music Special or Series.
At the 2012 Americana Music Honors & Awards, she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance. Four years later, in 2016, she was nominated for Artist of the Year. In addition to the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Guitar Museum, Raitt’s list of accolades includes the Harvard Arts Medal (1997), the People’s Voice Award (2018, Folk Alliance International Awards), and the Harvard Arts Medal (1997). In the year 2002, Bonnie was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.