Over her almost 40-year-long career, Bonnie Raitt has solidified herself as one of the finest blues singers and guitar players of all time. She has also made her name as a songwriter, an activist, and a humanitarian. Bonnie Raitt was born outside of Los Angeles on November 8, 1949 with some pretty good musical genes. Her father, John Raitt, was a Broadway star and her mother, Marjorie Haydock, was a classical pianist. She began playing guitar as a youngster, mostly playing blues style guitar. She attended Radcliffe College, where she met high-powered blues promoter Dick Waterman, with whom she struck up a close friendship. When Waterman moved to Philadelphia in 1969, she left school and also moved to Philly to persue a career in music.
In 1970, during a show at New York City's Gaslight Café, a reporter from Newsweek witnessed Raitt's performance, which helped her build a buzz, culminating in a record deal from Warner Bros. that same year. In 1971, she released her debut self-titled LP. The record features mostly covers, among them a fantastic version of Stephen Stills' "Bluebird." Though the album didn't sell particularly well, it was a favorite among critics and quickly showed that she was a legitimate blues artist.
Her 1972 follow-up Give It Up again featured mostly covers and was popular among critics. While it is one of her most popular albums among fans, it still didn't sell particularly well, charting at No. 138 on the Pop Albums Charts. She released roughly one album per year for the rest of the '70s, and finally took three years off at the dawn of the '80s. Her first offering of the decade was 1982's Green Light. A decidedly different sound for Raitt, the record featured a more upbeat rock approach that had hints of rockabilly. The album scored rave reviews, and sold well. However, she wasn't really able to capitalize on the success of Green Light, as 1986's Nine Lives was a disaster. The album was finished in 1983, but due to a change in management at Warner Bros. she was dropped and the album was shelved. After two years of limbo, Warner Bros. decided to release it, but they didn't promote it well and the album flopped.
Finally free from Warners, Raitt hit the open market and signed with Capitol Records. Warner Bros.' loss was Capitol's gain, as Raitt's first disc for Capitol was the classic Nick of Time. The album sold over five million albums, finally fulfilling the widespread commercial success that her prodigious talent had always suggested. The record features such classics as "Something To Talk About" and "I Can't Make You Love Me"—a ballad about a one-sided relationship. She followed it up with the 1991 smash Luck of the Draw, which, like its predecessor, struck a balance between commercial success (over seven million copies sold) and critical relevance.
She has continued to release successful albums, with her most recent 2005's Souls Alike receiving mostly positive reviews. Though she may not tour as much as she used to, she plays to packed houses whenever she does. Also, as a staunch Democrat, she has been a progressive voice for human rights and environmental organizations. Raitt will always be remembered as one of the best musicians of her era. She is a guitar hero to both males and females and stands as one of the best blues players around. Not bad for a white girls from the 'burbs.