Making a Scene Presents Gerry Casey’s Interview with Marcus Bonfanti
At first glance, Marcus Bonfanti seems to embody the time-honored archetype of the British rock and roll wild man. Raggedly coifed, lazily dressed, blessed with an intense stare that could frighten away a rattlesnake. If he were a few decades older, you could believe he was the love child of Janis Joplin and John Bonham. At sixteen, the song that urged him into a life of music was Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”
But there is more to Marcus Bonfanti than what a first glance would suggest. An actual listen to his music would reveal the kind of nuance and taste no one would expect from a typical British rock and roll wild man.
Bonfanti’s background reflects the kind of eclecticism that clearly played a huge role in his musical development. Born in London to an English mother and an Italian father, young Marcus’ early exposure to music defies simple categorization. His first instrument was the trumpet, playing in school orchestras and brass bands. At fifteen he got his first guitar and everything changed. But as his early days of guitar playing consisted mostly of strumming along with the easygoing likes of The Beatles, Buddy Holly and Crosby, Stills and Nash, Bonfanti still had a ways to go before finding the blues.
Then came Led Zeppelin and with them, a host of other influences that expanded the young Marcus Bonfanti’s music world into something deeper, more varied and more tilted toward the wild world of the blues. Stevie Ray Vaughan was an early influence (“One of the first guys that I really got heavily into blues-wise, because you hear him play and you’ve never heard anything like it. It’s mind-blowing.”) While Rory Gallagher, Tony Joe White and Tom Waits all had their impact. And of course, there were the three Kings – Freddie, B.B and Albert.