Music is My Life: Episode 031

Songwriter Bonnie Hayes on Sexism, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Bonnie Hayes is best known as a songwriter, having contributed tracks to Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time, which won the Grammy for album of the year 30 years ago. But there were a lot of twists and turns that brought her there, from her youth in the San Francisco scene in the 1970s—her brother Chris played guitar with Huey Lewis and the News and her brother Kevin played drums with the Robert Cray Band—to escaping a cult-like commune to see the Sex Pistols on the first show of their 1978 American tour. And her career has taken several turns since, from playing as a touring keyboardist for Billy Idol to becoming the chair of the Berklee College of Music Songwriting department. This interview touches upon all of the above, as well as her frustration with sexism in the music industry (learn why she thinks the photo above is ridiculous), and the emotional rigors of touring. Her Berklee Online course, Arranging for Songwriters: Instrumentation and Production in Songwriting, which she co-authored with Sara Brindell, is live now.