About John Mayall
John Mayall, OBE is an English blues singer, guitarist, organist and songwriter, whose musical career spans over sixty years. In the 1960s, he was the founder of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, a band which has counted among its members some of the most famous blues and blues rock musicians. They include Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, 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, Walter Trout, Coco Montoya, Kal David, and Buddy Whittington.
Born in Macclesfield, Cheshire in 1933, Mayall was the son of Murray Mayall, a guitarist and jazz music enthusiast. From an early age, John was drawn to the sounds of American blues players such as Lead Belly, 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 England, he enrolled at Manchester College of Art 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 lived in the US. A brush fire destroyed his house in Laurel Canyon in 1979, seriously damaging his musical collections and archives.
Mayall has been married twice, and has six grandchildren. His second wife, Maggie Mayall, is an American blues performer, and since the early 1980s took part in the management of her husband's career. The pair divorced in 2011 and Maggie wrote online about the experience.
In 2005 Mayall was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Honours List.
In 1956, with college fellow Peter Ward, Mayall had founded the Powerhouse Four which consisted of both men and other local musicians with whom they played at local dances. In 1962 Mayall became a member of the Blues Syndicate. The band was formed by trumpeter John Rowlands and alto saxophonist Jack Massarik, who had seen the Alexis Korner band at a Manchester club and wanted to try a similar blend of jazz and blues. It also included rhythm guitarist Ray Cummings and drummer Hughie Flint, whom Mayall already knew. In 1962 John and his band were frequent and popular artists at all night R&B sessions at the 'Twisted Wheel' cellar club in central Manchester. Alexis Korner persuaded Mayall to opt for a full-time musical career and move to London, where Korner introduced him to many other musicians and helped them to find gigs. In late 1963, with his band, which was now called the Bluesbreakers, Mayall started playing at the Marquee Club. The line-up was Mayall, Ward, John McVie on bass and guitarist Bernie Watson, formerly of Cyril Davies and the R&B All-Stars. The next spring Mayall obtained his first recording date with producer Ian Samwell. The band, with Martin Hart at the drums, recorded two tracks : "Crawling Up a Hill" as well as "Mr. James." Shortly after, Hughie Flint replaced Hart and Roger Dean took the guitar from Bernie Watson. This line-up backed John Lee Hooker on his British tour in 1964.
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