John Mayall Profile:
Born: November 29, 1933 in Macclesfield, England
Few artists can claim to have had the influence on blues, jazz, and blues-rock that British musician John Mayall can boast of during his fifty-year career. An accomplished bandleader with an ear for talent, Mayall discovered and/or nurtured such instrumental talents as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor. Mayall's extensive 56-album catalog includes excursions into the blues, blues-rock, jazz, and African styles of music.
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
Influenced by the extensive record collection of his father, a jazz guitarist and musical enthusiast, Mayall found himself enthralled by the sounds of Leadbelly, Pinetop Smith, Eddie Lang, and Albert Ammons. As a teen, Mayall taught himself to play guitar, harmonica, and piano, largely with borrowed instruments. After a three-year stint in the British army in Korea, Mayall began a career as a graphic artist, playing music part-time at night with bands like the Blues Syndicate.
At the urging of musician Alexis Korner, Mayall moved to London in 1962, formed John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and began playing professionally full-time. Guitarist Eric Clapton joined the band in 1965, recording a single groundbreaking album with the band. The late-1960s would be Mayall's most successful period, as talents like Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor rotated through the Bluesbreakers.
The Years After Clapton
With awareness of his music growing in the U.S., Mayall relocated to Laurel Canyon in California. Throughout the 1970s, Mayall continued to experiment with variations on blues and jazz music, releasing albums like the live Jazz Blues Fusion, Moving On, and A Banquet in Blues. Mayall also backed such legends as John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, and Sonny Boy Williamson on their U.K. tours. With interest in the blues at an all-time low by 1979, Mayall's career was floundering and he would have to regroup.
Reforming the Bluesbreakers in 1984 with guitarists Walter Trout and Coco Montoya, Mayall rode the wave of the Stevie Ray-fueled blues-rock revival well into the 1990s, touring and releasing a number of critically-acclaimed albums. Today, Mayall continues to tour and is respected as an elder statesman of British blues.
Recommended Albums: The groundbreaking Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton may be the definitive John Mayall album, but A Hard Road, with guitarist Peter Green, is a classic as well.