WITH 200 live dates a year around the world, and brand new supergroup in rehearsal and a reputation as one of the finest guitarists in the world, guitarist Joe Bonamassa tells us he has no time to take it easy.

EVER since he was a child Joe Bonamassa has been destined to play the guitar.

By the age of 12 he was opening shows for BB King and has since gone on to be described as ‘the future of the blues’.

As he embarks on a UK tour which comes to Manchester next week, the American admits it feels like he’s coming home.

“I have always had an affinity with British music,” he said.

“My early influences were from the British rather than American music scene — the likes of Jeff Beck, Free and particularly Rory Gallagher.”

Bonamassa’s virtuoso guitar playing leaves audiences genuinely stunned but as a result they perhaps overlook his credentials as a singer and songwriter but he retains a laid-back attitude to the question of fame.

“Hey, I don’t care what people recognise me for, I’m just glad they recognise me for something,” he laughed.

Still only in his thirties, Bonamassa already has 10 solo albums to his name and a touring schedule which spans the globe.

But he is just as excited about returning to the UK as though it was his first major tour.

“I really love coming to the UK,” he said. “The fans are really knowledgable and have a real affinity with what I do on stage.”

And, he revealed he is looking forward to a brand new venture which will see him as part of a genuine ‘super-group’.

Along with Jason Bonham on drums, voc-alist Glenn Hughes, of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and Dream Theater keyboard player Derek Sherinian, he has put together Black Country Communion.

“I’m really excited about this,” he said. “We’ve only just started working on songs but it’s already amazing.

“To work with people of such quality is great. There are no egos we all just want to make music together and boy it’s going to be loud.”

Black Country Communion are expected to tour and release an album in the new year but before then fans can catch some Bonamassa magic next Friday.

* JOE BONAMASSA — Manchester Apollo, Friday, October 15. Details from 0844 777677.