Bonnie Bramlett – Gotcha
Bonnie Bramlett (born Bonnie Lynn O’Farrell, November 8, 1944) is an American singer and occasional actress known for her distinctive vocals in rock and pop music. This began in the mid-1960s as a backing singer, forming the husband-and-wife team of Delaney & Bonnie, and continuing to the present day as a solo artist.
Bramlett was born in Alton, Illinois. She started her musical career at the age of thirteen as a backup singer for blues acts such as Fontella Bass, Albert King, and Little Milton.
She made history as the first white female to sing with Ike and Tina Turner as one of the “Ikettes”. She eventually moved to Los Angeles, where she met fellow singer Delaney Bramlett in 1967 at a bowling alley gig for his band, The Shindogs. They were married within the week and are the parents of singer Bekka Bramlett, who was briefly a member of Fleetwood Mac in the 1990s.
The duo signed with Stax Records and became known as Delaney & Bonnie, becoming the first white artists among R&B artists such as Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave, John Lee Hooker, and Booker T. and the MGs. They soon toured Europe with British rock legend Eric Clapton. With frequent drop-in performances by other noted musicians like Duane Allman, George Harrison, and Dave Mason, the group became known as Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Despite this all-star assistance, the duo only managed to chart two songs, their best-known “Never Ending Song of Love” and a cover of Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know”. During the course of their relationship with Eric Clapton, Delaney and Bonnie co-wrote “Superstar” with Leon Russell and the classic “Let It Rain” which is featured on Clapton’s eponymous first album.
Delaney & Bonnie disbanded, both musically and maritally, in 1972. Bonnie Bramlett continued her career as a solo songwriter and recording artist. She released Sweet Bonnie Bramlett in 1973, backed by The Average White Band. She toured the USA with her band, The Entertainers, featuring a name brand of musicians, including: Mike Baxter on keyboard; Little Moe Mosely on drums; Doc Schwebke on bass; Michael Elliot and Phillip John Diaz on guitar; Larry Williams and Big John Raford on saxophones; background vocals Carolyn Brandt, Lagatha Smallwood, and Lea Santos; led by trumpeter Gabe Flemings. Bramlett also continued to contribute vocals to recordings by a variety of other artists, including Little Feat and The Allman Brothers Band.
In the late 1970s, she toured with Stephen Stills, during which she gained some press notoriety for an incident with Elvis Costello at a Holiday Inn hotel bar in Columbus, Ohio. Costello referred to James Brown as a “jive-ass nigger” and Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant nigger”. Bramlett responded by giving Costello a punch in the face. Costello apologized at a New York City press conference a few days later, claiming he’d been drunk, trying to be obnoxious in order to bring the conversation to a swift conclusion. According to Costello, “it became necessary for me to outrage these people with about the most obnoxious and offensive remarks that I could muster.”
In 1979, Bonnie Bramlett travelled to Havana, Cuba, to participate in the historic Havana Jam festival that took place between 2–4 March, alongside Stephen Stills, the CBS Jazz All-Stars, the Trio of Doom, Fania All-Stars, Billy Swan, Weather Report, Mike Finnegan, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge and Billy Joel, plus an array of Cuban artists such as Irakere, Pacho Alonso, Tata Güines and Orquesta Aragón. Her performance is captured on Ernesto Juan Castellanos’s documentary Havana Jam ’79.
After exploring gospel music in the ’80s, Bonnie married Danny Sheridan in 1988. He produced her next recordings via the “Revolutionary Hard Rockin’ Blues” of their “Bandaloo Doctors”. The group’s music attracted the admiration of many Hollywood celebrities, and the couple was soon cast for several seasons as semi-regulars on the hit ABC series Roseanne. Bonnie (credited as Bonnie Sheridan) played a co-worker and friend (who just so happened to be named Bonnie) of Roseanne Barr’s character ‘Roseanne Conner’, with Danny Sheridan occasionally writing music and appearing as the character “Hank the bass player”. During this period, Delaney and Bonnie’s daughter, Bekka Bramlett, also started a singing career, eventually joining Fleetwood Mac in 1993 after the departure of Stevie Nicks.
Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett had had small roles in the 1971 film Vanishing Point and in 1974’s Catch My Soul. Bonnie had also guest-starred in an episode of Fame in 1986 and in the 1991 movie The Doors as a bartender. She also appeared in the Andrew Davis film The Guardian (2006) starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher.
In 2002, Bonnie Bramlett returned to her musical roots, releasing her album I’m Still the Same. In 2006, she appeared as a backup vocalist for Southern rock artist Shooter Jennings on his album Electric Rodeo, however, she declined to accompany Jennings on the ensuing tour.
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