John Mayall was born on 29 November 1933 in Macclesfield, Cheshire, England. The small village he grew up in was near the industrial city of Manchester.
Of working class origins, he was the eldest of three. His father was an amateur guitarist and a jazz enthusiast. His extensive record collection exposed John to a wide variety of music from his earliest years. Starting at the age of 12, he taught himself how to play guitar, ukulele, harmonica and piano.
After attending the Manchester Junior School of Art, he worked in window design before serving in the British Army for three years. Upon his return home in 1954, John enrolled in Manchester’s College of Art. While in college, he and drummer Peter Ward formed the Powerhouse Four in 1956 playing local dances. After graduation, he embarked on a successful career as a graphic designer. John also found time to teach music at a local youth club, where he met drummer Hughie Flint, who would become an integral part of the Bluesbreaks.
While opening for Alexis Korner and Blues Incorporated, he was befriended by Korner, who would serve as John’s musical mentor.
In late 1962, John formed The Blues Syndicate and performed around the Manchester area. Urged by Korner, John relocated his family to London and turned professional. He was 29 years old.
In 1963, he formed The Bluesbreakers. In its various incarnations, The Bluesbreakers have been a stepping stone for some of the world’s most famous musicians, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Aynsley Dunbar, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, Coco Montoya, Walter Trout and others. John has never stopped recording or performing.
In 2003, in celebration of his 70th Birthday and in aid of UNICEF, John hosted a special concert in Liverpool. Special guests included Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Chris Barber. The concert was filmed and recorded. It was released as a DVD and double CD in December 2003.
In a 2003 BBC documentary about Mayall, Eric Clapton said, “John showed me, by example, how to be a successful bandleader. You hire a musician for what he’s going to bring, now what you are going to tell him to play. I learned that as being the ideal way of being a bandleader.”
Today, John Mayall is known worldwide as the “Father of British Blues”. During his forty-year career, he has recorded more than 40 albums. He continues to tour worldwide playing about 125 dates a year.
Official Website: www.johnmayall.com