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Behind The Music – Bonnie Raitt

on November 9, 2009 No comments
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Produced, Written & Directed by Jason Goodman jason@jasongoodman.tv

When I got the assignment to do Bonnie Raitt’s Behind The Music, I didn’t really know a lot about her. But as I did my homework, I fell totally in love with both her slide guitar playing, and with her back story. Bonnie started playing guitar as a teen, but only started taking it seriously when she went to Radcliffe, and fell in love with a local music promoter who was also the manager of Son House. It wasn’t long before Bonnie left college and started a masters course in the blues at the feet of the men who had invented it. She is very much the real deal.

This was also my first Behind The Music where the other interviews were equally famous performers. Thanks to Bonnie, I got to meet and spend time with one of my childhood heroes, Jackson Browne, Ruth Brown (really loved her, RIP, Ruth), David Crosby, Melissa Etheridge and Don Was. Just writing that down reminded me of how much fun it was to hang with them.

I got into a pretty heated conflict with the network execs over this act. VH1 came to think that Behind The Music’s success was based on the excesses of the Rock ‘n Roll life style, not interest in the actual artist. In Bonnie’s case, she’d had a lull in her career, and during that lull she drank too much, and slept with some people she wouldn’t have slept with if she hadn’t been drinking. I gave it the focus I thought was appropriate – it is my favorite act in the show – but the network wanted a lot more wretched excess, and ultimately my boss told me the show was a miss because it was too soft. Silly me, I thought my job was to tell Bonnie’s beautiful and moving story, not to try to create controversy when it wasn’t really there. I guess that really does sound naïve, doesn’t it?

Two little things about Bonnie. First, regardless of what VH1 thought, Bonnie loved the show. And when she found out I was making a film the following summer in Indianapolis, where she was coming through on a tour with Jackson Browne, she invited me to the show and to a barbecue backstage afterwards. They both really made me feel like we were old friends, and I really wish I was. They are very cool people.

The other thing is about her marriage to Michael O’Keefe. Usually when you get to the relationship part of the interview, particularly when you’re talking to a married couple, you expect to get a lot of shiny happy talk. But both Bonnie and Michael were quite open that neither was finding their marriage that easy, and I wasn’t exactly surprised when they announced their divorced less than a year after we taped the interviews.

Source: © Copyright Jason Goodman
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Over the span of her career, Bonnie has had the opportunity to collaborate with many incredible artists. Listen to some of these tunes on her Duets and Collaborations playlist on Spotify here: spoti.fi/2YBaIoF ... See MoreSee Less

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We are rocked to the core to hear of the passing of our dear friend, bandmate and musical genius, Mike Finnigan. He fought his long illness with the same fearlessness and ferocity he brought to every part of his life. Our deepest condolences go out to Candy, Kelly, Bridget and all his family.

Mike was one of the most powerful, virtuosic soul/gospel/blues singers and Hammond B3 players you’ll ever be blessed to hear. Respected and emulated by musicians the world over, his legacy of staggering
performances across his 60+ years career will stand the test of time. He stopped our show nearly every night. There was simply no one like him.

He was whipsmart, incredibly articulate and funny as hell. He was as devoted to his beloved family and friends as he was to helping so many struggling to get and stay sober. He and his wife Candy were instrumental in my own sobriety and I will be forever grateful.

Rest in peace, dear Mike. I know you’ll be shaking that Heavenly Choir to new heights as only you can do.

Here’s a clip from our 2013 Slipstream tour, where he tore up the place every night with Ray Charles’ iconic “I’ve Got News for You.”

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCz0TyBI1FA
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