“Now, I’m known as Bonnie Raitt’s father,” said John Raitt.
Raitt, famous for his stage and summer circuit performances in “Oklahoma,” “Carousel” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” is currently appearing in “I Do! I Do!” at the Chateau de Ville in Farmingham.
Daughter Bonnie, who attended Radcliffe for two years, is traveling the music path too, but on another route. She started with a guitar and folk songs and is now into Deep South blues. She’s appeared in several of the New York “in” places and the major festivals.
“SHE’S CUT a record for Warner Brothers with a $40,000 advance and 10 percent of the gross. She’ll make about $100,000 this year. “Not bad for a 22-year-old girl,” said Raitt.
Although it’s not his kind of music, Raitt is for it.
“I used to be a square—one of the squarest in the business. I had a very religous upbringing. We spent all Sunday in church. Professionally there were roles that I found shocking and rejected. I was the guy who always wore a suit. You know the type, very proper. My wife’s father was a Methodist minister. We had a house on each coast. We were so into that Westchester type living that I was smothering. One day I took stock and realized that wasn’t what I wanted. I was living a lie. And was shrinking, instead of growing,” he said candidly.
Two years ago Raitt and his wife of 27 years, Marge, separated. After legal hassling, he got the house in California.
“And she got everything else. That coupled with the legal fees, has left me in debt. I sold the big California house and have moved into an apartment on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The complex was built by the oldtime movie actor, Henry Hull,” said Raitt.
RAITT ATTRIBUTES the break-up to, among other things, the wide differences of opinion on raising their children Bonnie, Steve, 24, and Dave, 19.
“All our kids are free souls. I guess they converted me. Marge is shackled to all those puritanical and conventional principals—a college education, a steady job. That kind of thing. Steve and Dave both live off the earth. They grow their own vegetables. Dave’s into building and wood-carving. He lives in New Hampshire. He was involved in building Mongolian Yurt huts for the Department of the Interior. He lived with the Mc-Kree Indians and is an expert on their culture. He quit high school, but through practical experience he could teach others how to build, farm, carve and survive, and he’s happy doing all those things,” said Raitt.
Raitt claims seeing his children do the things they want and enjoy awakened the desire to do his own thing, too.
“I’M PUTTING a company together and plan to take Carousel to college campuses. Starting January 28, we’ll be doing one-nighters all around the country. We open in Hershey, Pa. I’m also hoping to take new talent and develop it. I’m reversing the conventional career pattern, after 30 years in show business instead of slowing down I’m going to be doing one-nighters,” said Raitt, who describes himself as 50ish.
Raitt says his new philosphy and life style is:
“Live for now. Most people are afraid of life, but don’t realize it. I’ve had a chance to realize that and do something about it.”
Does he think his philosophy will damage his box-office appeal with the middle-aged, suburbanite?
“No, I think they’ll come for the music and the enjoyment of the evening. That’s the beginning of living for now,” he said.