John Mayall

John Mayall, OBE (born 29 November 1933) in Macclesfield, is a pioneering English blues singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. His musical career spans over fifty years, but the most notable episode in it occurred during the late '60s. The eldest of three from humble working class origins, and in the shadow of WWII, this skinny English lad grew up listening to his guitarist father's extensive jazz record collection and felt drawn to the blues. Strongly influenced by such greats as Leadbelly, Albert Ammons, Pinetop Smith, and Eddie Lang, from the age of 13 he taught himself to play and develop his own style with the aid of a neighbor's piano, borrowed guitars, and secondhand harmonicas.
He was the founder of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and, as a gifted talent-scout, has been influential in the careers of many instrumentalists, including Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Mick Taylor, Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Harvey Mandel, Larry Taylor, Aynsley Dunbar, Hughie Flint, Jon Hiseman, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Andy Fraser, Johnny Almond, Rick Cortes, Jon Mark, Walter Trout, Coco Montoya, and Buddy Whittington.

Mayall's father was Murray Mayall, a guitarist and jazz music enthusiast. From an early age, John was drawn to the sounds of American blues players such as Leadbelly, Albert Ammons, Pinetop Smith, and Eddie Lang, and taught himself to play the piano, guitars, and harmonica.

Mayall spent three years in Korea for national service and, during a period of leave, he bought his first electric guitar. Back in Manchester, he enrolled at Manchester College of Art (now part of Manchester Metropolitan University) and started playing with semi-professional bands. After graduation, he obtained a job as an art designer but continued to play with local musicians. In 1963, he opted for a full time musical career and moved to London. His previous craft would be put to good use in the designing of covers for many of his coming albums.

Since the end of the 1960s Mayall has been living in the U.S. A brush fire destroyed his house in Laurel Canyon in 1979, seriously damaging his musical collections and archives.

Mayall married twice and has six grand-children. Maggie Mayall is an American blues performer and has, since the early 1980s, taken an active part in the management of her husband's career.

In 2005 Mayall was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Honours List.

Spring 2007 brought John Mayall's 56th album release, on Eagle Records: "In The Palace Of The King," an entire studio album that honors and pays tribute to the music of the Mayall’s long-time hero of the blues, Freddie King.

The release of this popular tribute album led to such a heavy touring schedule that it began to take its toll on John physically. He therefore reluctantly decided to take time off to re-evaluate his career. In October 2008 he made the decision to disband and retire the long standing Bluesbreakers, which caused quite a stir in blues circles and led to rumors about total retirement.

Since then Mayall has made some guest appearances with Mark Hummel's Harmonica Blowout and so enjoyed the freedom that he decided to put together some new musicians with a view to touring on a more limited basis. The reaction to this plan has been so positive that two tours of Europe have been put together for 2009, including several shows with BB King in the UK. Eagle Records have also commissioned John to record a new album, which is slated for release in fall 2009. Meanwhile we hope that fans will enjoy the rocking blues contributions of Rocky Athas, Greg Rzab, Jay Davenport and Tom Canning.

To celebrate his 70th birthday Mayall reunited with special guests Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Chris Barber during a fundraiser show. This "Unite for Unicef" concert took place on 19 July 2003 at the Kings Dock Arena in Liverpool and was captured on film for a DVD release. In 2005, Mayall was awarded an OBE in the Honours List. "It's the only major award I've ever received. I've never had a hit record or a Grammy or been in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame." commented Mayall.

In November 2008 Mayall announced on his website he was disbanding the Bluesbreakers to cut back on his heavy workload and give himself freedom to work with other musicians. However three months later a world tour with a new band was announced: Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums. Tom Canning, on organ, joined the band for the tour which started in March 2009. An album was released in September.

Albums Collections

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Room To Move 1969-1974
part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5

Blues Express
part 1 part 2 part 3

Ten Years Are Gone
part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5

Thru The Years – 1972

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The Private Collection

John Mayall & Mick Taylor - Toad’s Place, New Haven, Conn.

Stadschouwburg Middelburg, Netherlands
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The Academy, Dublin, Republic Of Ireland
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