The Road to Moe’s Tavern…
In many ways, Joe Bonamassa was no ordinary kid. Ordinary kids generally can’t shred like a long-time blues master on guitar. Ordinary kids don’t open up shows for B.B. King. And ordinary kids don’t usually lust after guitars that were created 2 decades before the kid was even born. But Joe Bonamassa was no ordinary kid. Nevertheless, there was one sense in which Joe Bonamassa was an ordinary kid:
He loved The Simpsons.
Lots of kids love The Simpsons. And grown-ups too. The Simpsons is a beloved American institution, a wonderful and witty satirical animated take on the traditional working class American family. Its array of quirky and sometimes outlandish characters shed light with tremendous humor and intelligence on American culture, practices, and general life.
The Simpsons debuted on December 17, 1989 and its 28th season is about to begin airing this month. It is the longest running American sitcom ever, was named the best television series of the 20th century by Time Magazine and it has won 31 Emmy Awards. Joe, who has followed the program for many years, continues to do watch it today.
The show has also featured numerous guests that have been turned into Simpsons animated characters or, if you will, “Simpson-ized”. Many of these have been musicians, including legends like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Elton John, U2 and The Who (to name a few). So when Joe casually told J&R Adventures’ Director of Marketing that it would be a dream come true for him to be Simpsonized or somehow involved with the show, and that this was very high up on his bucket list, a quest was started to make it happen.
After networking with some super double secret industry connections (it is all about who you know after all), J&R was able to get Joe a seat at a cast table reading for the show. At the table reading, the voice actors from the show including Dan Catellaneta (Homer, Krusty, etc), Hank Azaria (Moe, Chief Wiggum, etc), Yeardley Smith (Lisa) and Nancy Cartwright (Bart) sit at a table with their scripts and complete a read through in their characters’ voices.
The small audience is composed of a few lucky special guests who get to peer into the behind-the-scenes creative process of the show. Joe had a blast at the table reading and was able to take home a prized piece of memorabilia – an actual script from the episode, which is yet to be aired.
Meanwhile, J&R continued working towards the goal of getting Joe “Simpsonized”. After sprinkling a little more networking pixie dust, the deed was completed by The Simpsons’ lead animator and voilà, here you see the finished project, an animated Joe Bonamassa that was months in the making!
The character is very recognizably Joe, but includes the perfect amount of Simpson in the design and trademark yellow skin. The animators had a lengthy debate about whether or not to include Joe wearing shades. Ultimately the design was completed sans shades, because they wanted Joe’s face to be clear and recognizable to everyone.
Joe has achieved some pretty special accomplishments in his day as the Blues Rock Titan. He’s headlined shows at Radio City Music Hall and the Royal Albert Hall. He’s jammed with his music hero Eric Clapton. But Joe is proud to acknowledge this as a huge moment for him as well. Not just anyone gets “Simpsonized” by an actual Show animator - Special Thanks to Kevin Newman and Bryan Mead!
Is there a future for Joe in the zany fictional town of Springfield where the Simpsons dwell? There’s no official word yet, but we are hopeful that someday we might see Joe on a future episode of America’s premier animated series. Lisa Simpson, the overachieving Simpsons’ daughter, better be brushing up on her saxophone chops, just in case…
- J&R Adventures