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Joe Bonamassa: “I have days where I hate the way I play. I have days where I think I am a f**king fraud!”

Joe Bonamassa
(Image credit: Future)

Imposter syndrome – a psychological phenomenon that makes individuals suffer feelings of inadequacy and an exaggerated sense of doubt regarding their abilities – can be felt by anyone, regardless of how adept they might be in a particular field.

Take Joe Bonamassa, for example. He is – by most people's standards – one of today's greatest blues rock guitarists. He was even voted the best blues guitar player in the world by Guitar World readers in 2019. But even he experiences the effects of imposter syndrome.

In a new interview with MusicRadar, the bluesman explains that he has “good and bad days like everybody else”.

“People have a very, very skewed, strange view of how I live, and I think a lot of that is because of what they see on Instagram,” he says. “They see me on Instagram, and all I do is sit around and fuck around with guitars. That is not the truth!”

He continues, reflecting on how Instagram is essential a highlight reel of a person's life: “They think that's all it is, and I think it skews people's reality of what life is about. I have good days and bad days like everybody else. I have days where I hate the way I play. I have days where I think I am a fucking fraud! And that's okay.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Bonamassa details the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on his motivation to play guitar.

“Here's the perspective,” he says. “As we are having this conversation, I have a guitar in my hand, and I am playing because I have a reason. I am sitting in with a friend of mine in New York City in about six or seven hours. I have a reason to pick up the guitar. 

“Like, if this was just a regular Wednesday – and look around, I live in a house of guitars – I would pick up the guitar for a moment and then go, ‘Oh, there’s a ladybug on the wall.’ Why am I doing this?”

“I know a lot of people, people who are my friends, who are my age group, who felt the same way,” he continues. “If you take the stage away, it takes away the impetus to play. 

“I think the prevailing view outside of the circle was, ‘Can you imagine the kind of creativity that’s going to come out of this? People are going to come out and all they have been doing is [being] locked up in their house and all they do is play…’ 

“I’m telling you, from my perspective, it was demoralizing, because it reminded you of what you did for a living and you have no control over the fact that you cannot do that.”

Last week, Joe Bonamassa offered his six-string services to fellow blues-rocker Eric Gales on his new single, I Want My Crown

It followed Notches, The Heart That Never Waits and Time Clocks, singles released ahead of Bonamassa's new album – also called Time Clocks – which is out today (October 29).

Sam Roche

Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.