50 Years Later: Meeting Bonnie Raitt at the Beginning of Her Career, Backstage in Houston, 1972
Long before hits, a major label move, and Grammys made her more of a household name than her Broadway-musical-star father, John Raitt, my introduction to Bonnie brought about an unexpected response!
We had just gotten our coveted TPP staff ID cards, and I proudly took mine to Bonnie Raitt’s show at Liberty Hall in downtown Houston.
Her second album, Give it Up, was released by Warner Bros. Records in September of 1972, the beginning of my senior year.
I had already enjoyed her debut album in 1971, as well as her latest: Dad was in ad sales at the local Houston CBS radio affiliates, KTRH-AM and KLOL (two years after meeting Bonnie, I’d be playing her music, behind the mic, at “Mother’s Family Radio,” KLOL-101 FM), and routinely brought home Warner Bros. promo albums! Jazz fan that he was, I’d get all the rock stuff!
Plus, each box of new releases had the most recent issue of Circular, the weekly, promotional in-house PR tool of Warner Bros. In each, there would be news of the new releases from the intrepid House of Bunny, artist bios, and other creative scribblings from the typewriter of one Barry Hansen, known by most as Dr. Demento.
In the general timeframe of Raitt’s show at Liberty Hall comes this video of a live performance by Bonnie and band that features noted keyboard whiz, Jef Labes, on piano!
We met Jef in a recent FR&B article, where our own Stephen Michael Schwartz met Jef’s wife, Eve Brandstein after a show. Eve is known (among many other credits) for casting the 1984 rock parody movie, This is Spinal Tap!
At the time (1978), Eve was casting for a singing/acting/guitar-playing “David Cassidy type” for a network TV sitcom, Please Stand By. Stephen got the part, and the whole story (with photos of Jef and Eve) can be caught here:
Back to Bonnie onstage, in a rollicking version of her “Give it Up Or Let Me Go,” featuring her killer slide guitar playing, and dynamite riffin’ by the venerable Freebo on fretless bass.
After Bonnie’s set at Liberty Hall, I went backstage to meet her, again, armed with my brand-spankin’-new Three Penny Press Staff ID card. She was sitting on a couch, and there was a small gathering of band members, fans, and presumably, Houston-area Warner reps.
During a lull in conversation, I introduced myself to Bonnie, and whipped out my TPP ID card and showed it to her across a coffee table between us.
“Oh, so I see you’re a narc!”
She was lovely, and certainly sweet-tempered, but I was taken aback by that response!
I’m sure I muttered something about being on the school paper, but as this was 1972 or so, and still at the tail-end of the laid-back ‘60s “hippie” era (that hadn’t quite yet gone away) her use of the now-archaic “narc” placed her way off base about me:
Not only was I not a member of law enforcement, I never took a toke! But, so suburbanly naive was I that I didn’t even realize Black Sabbath’s 1971 “Sweet Leaf” was all about that dreaded leafy substance!😲And, I listened to Master of Reality as much as Bonnie’s Give it Up (ah, the embarrassment of riches that was the constant inflow of Warner Bros. promos)!
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