John Mayall was born on the 29th of November 1933 and grew up in a village not too far from Manchester, England. It was here 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 Eddie Lang, Lonnie Johnson, Brownie McGhee, Josh White and Leadbelly. However once he heard the sounds of boogie woogie giants Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis, his desire to play 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 to play the blues. 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 until 1962 when the news broke in the 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 sit in and form their own groups.
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, and Sonny Boy Williamson on their first English club tours.
After a couple of years and many personnel changes, Eric Clapton quit the Yardbirds and John quickly offered him the job as his new guitarist. Although John had previously released a couple of singles and a live LP for Decca, the now classic collaboration between Eric and John resulted in the all time best selling classic 'John Mayall's Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton'. However by the time it was entering the charts, he and bassist Jack Bruce had left to form Cream. So began a succession of future stars who would define their roots under John's leadership before leaving to form their own groups. Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood became Fleetwood Mac. Andy Fraser formed Free, and Mick Taylor joined the Rolling Stones.
In 1969, with his popularity blossoming in the USA, John caused somewhat of a stir with the release of a drummer less acoustic live album entitled "The Turning Point", from which his song "Room To Move" was destined to become a rock classic. He received a gold record for this album. Attracted by the West Coast climate and culture, John then made his permanent move from England to Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles and began forming bands with American musicians. Throughout the 70's, John became further revered for his many jazz/rock/blues innovations featuring such notable performers as Blue Mitchell, Red Holloway, Larry Taylor, and Harvey Mandel.
In 1982, motivated by nostalgia and fond memories, John decided to re-form the original Bluesbreakers. Mick Fleetwood was unavailable at the time so John hired drummer Colin Allen to join with John McVie and Mick Taylor for a couple of tours and a video concert film entitled 'Blues Alive'. Featured greats were Albert King, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Etta James. By the time Mick and John had returned to their respective careers, public reaction had convinced Mayall that he should honor his driving blues roots. In Los Angeles, he selected his choices for a new incarnation of the Bluesbreakers. Officially launched in 1984, it included future stars in their own right, guitarists Coco Montoya and Walter Trout.
Throughout the eighties and nineties, John's popularity went from strength to strength with a succession of dynamic albums such as 'Behind The Iron Curtain', 'Chicago Line', 'A Sense of Place', and the Grammy-nominated 'Wake Up Call' that featured guest artists Buddy Guy, Mavis Staples, Albert Collins and Mick Taylor.