John Mayall, English blues guitar player was born today. For more than 50 years, John Mayall has been acknowledged as the Godfather of British Blues. People such as Eric Clapton, John McVie, Mic Fleetwood, and Mick Taylor (Brian Jones’ substitute in the Rolling Stones) have being part of his band or play with him with The Bluebreakers. A note on the following paragraphs, I decided to quote it ad verbatim as it appears on John Mayall’s website.
As a teenager that he first became attracted to the jazz and blues 78s in his father’s record collection. Initially it was all about guitarists such as Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie McGhee, Josh White and Leadbelly. However, once he heard the sounds of boogie woogie piano giants Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis, his desire to play in that style was all he could think of.
At the age of 14, when he went to Manchester’s Junior School of Art, he had access to a piano for the first time and he began to learn the basics of this exciting music. He also found time to continue learning the guitar and, a couple of years later, the harmonica, inspired by Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter.
After his two years at art school, he joined the art department of a major department store while starting to build up his own record collection that was to be his source of inspiration. At age eighteen, when he was due for National Service, he spent three years in the Royal Engineers as an office clerk in the south of England and in Korea all the time playing whenever he got a chance. As no one seemed to be interested in this type of music, John felt pretty much of an outsider throughout his twenties up until 1962 when the news broke in the British music magazine Melody Maker that Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies had opened a club in Ealing devoted to blues music. After Britain’s ten year traditional jazz boom had about run its course, a new generation was ready for something new. Out came the amplifiers, guitars and harmonicas and out came young enthusiasts from all over the country eager to form their own groups.
Mayall’s last release 2019’s “Nobody Told Me” boasted an impressive and diverse list of guest guitarists, all personal favorites of Mayall’s including Todd Rundgren, Little Steven Van Zandt of The E Street Band, Alex Lifeson from Rush, Joe Bonamassa, Larry McCray and Carolyn Wonderland who has since joined the band on tour.
The album was recorded at The Foo Fighters’ Studio 606 on the same legendary Sound City Neve console his one-time protégés from Fleetwood Mac used to record parts of the best-selling Rumors album.
“This project has been a true labor of love for me and I can’t wait for people to hear the fireworks that took place,” beams Mayall. Nobody Told Me is an apt title for the blues icon who suffered a recent unexpected health scare shortly after recording the album. But, the seemingly ageless road dog, who famously takes no days off and carries his own gear on tour, has been given a clean bill of health and plans to return to his usual grueling touring schedule to support the release.
This was all the encouragement thirty-year old John needed and, giving up his graphic design job, he moved from Manchester to London and began putting musicians together under the banner of the Bluesbreakers. Although things were rough at first, the music quickly took off thanks to the popularity of the Rolling Stones, Georgie Fame, Manfred Mann, The Animals and Spencer Davis with a young Steve Winwood. John also backed blues greats, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Eddie Boyd and Sonny Boy Williamson on their first English club tours.
Under his belt, he has over 36 albums releases and I am not counting the lives one.