Kirk Fletcher makes a triumphant return to the stage following his recent stroke – and his blues chops were in full working order as he jammed with Joe Bonamassa in Tulsa

Kirk Fletcher
(Image credit: Future)

Blues guitar phenom and Guitar World columnist Kirk Fletcher returned to the stage last night (November 8) for the first time since July, when he suffered a stroke onstage at Eastside Bowl in Tennessee. 

Fletcher joined Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith onstage at the Tulsa Theater, and showed the world what it had been missing over these past few months, with a short video posted to Bonamassa’s Instagram page proving that Fletcher’s recuperation was in full swing. 

It’s only a short video, shot from the side of the stage, but it was enough to demonstrate that Fletcher’s lost none of his chops, and none of the feel he has for those bends, and the blues phrasing that makes him one of his generation’s greatest blues players.

Indeed, to Bonamassa’s ear, Fletch is “one of the greatest traditional blues players of all time”. High praise from the world’s highest-grossing bluesman.

A full-time return to the stage is still some time away yet for Fletcher. In the meantime, the great man is offering private lessons. There can be few better ways to learn the blues than in the company of Fletcher. Head over to Learn With Kirk to sign up. 

To help with his medical expenses and to support him as he recovers, Bonamassa and Smith launched a fundraiser in which a trove of gear is bundled up for an epic auction. 

The package is pretty much an entire rig and includes a 2022 Gibson Les Paul Custom signed by the likes of Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram, Blackberry Smoke, Cardinal Black, Ruthie Foster, the main man Bonamassa, and more.

You’ll need something to put that through. How about a ‘48 Fender Dual Professional JB Edition guitar amp, straight out of Nerdville bearing serial number #3? There’s a lot of headroom with that; it’ll sound good with a pedal, and Bonamassa has just the thing: a signed Way Huge Doubleland Special overdrive pedal, which is doubly collectible because these things are OOP. 

There’s also a signature JoBo Cry Baby wah pedal, gigbag and guitar strap, and the winning bid will get two VIP meet-and-greet tickets to a Bonamassa gig of their choosing.

“It’s a really nice package and all of the money is going to Kirk Fletcher,” said Bonamassa. “It’s going to help him out tremendously get through the next six months, eight months until he starts playing again.”

Bonamassa is dead right: it is a great package, and a great cause, too. Fletcher is one of the good guys. Current bid is $33,198 and the fundraiser is live and receiving bids until 1:59pm EST on November 12. See Rally Up for more information. 

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.