John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

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John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers
John Mayall (1970).png
John Mayall in 1970, the year the Bluesbreakers broke up
Background information
Origin London, England
Years active
  • 1963 (1963)–1970 (1970)
  • 1982 (1982)–2008 (2008)
  • 2020 (2020)–present
Associated acts
Members John Mayall
Greg Rzab
Jay Davenport
Carolyn Wonderland
Past members List of band members

John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers are an English blues rock band led by singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist John Mayall. While never producing a hit of their own, the band has been hugely influential as an incubator for British rock and blues musicians. Many of the best known bands to come out of Britain in the 1960s and 1970s had members that came through the Bluesbreakers at one time, forming the foundation of British blues music that is still played heavily on classic rock radio. Among those with a tenure in the Bluesbreakers are Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce (both later of Cream), Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie (the three of whom would form Fleetwood Mac), Mick Taylor (the Rolling Stones), Aynsley Dunbar (Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention), Jon Hiseman, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Tony Reeves (these three would form Colosseum), and numerous others.


Mayall used the band name between 1963 and 1967, then dropped it for some fifteen years. In 1982 a 'Return of the Bluesbreakers' was announced, and the name was used until the band again dissolved in 2008. The name has become generic, without a clear distinction between recordings by Mayall alone and those by Mayall and his band.


The band that would evolve to the Bluesbreakers in 1965 [1] was formed in February 1963 and became an ever-evolving lineup of more than 100 combinations of musicians performing under the name. [2] Eric Clapton joined in April 1965, a few months after the release of their first album. Clapton brought guitar-led blues influences to the forefront of the group; he had left The Yardbirds in order to concentrate on the blues.

The first single released by John Mayall and his band, in May 1964, was the song "Crawling Up a Hill", with "Mr. James" as the b-side. The band on the single were Peter Ward, John McVie on bass, Bernie Watson on guitar, and Martin Hart on drums. [3] After the release, Watson was replaced by Roger Dean, and Hart by Hughie Flint. This lineup played on the album John Mayall Plays John Mayall , recorded in December 1964 and released in 1965. After this, the band released a single called "Crocodile Walk", with "Blues City Shakedown" as the b-side, which was produced by Tony Clarke of Decca Records. [4] Dean then left the group and was replaced by Clapton. [5]

The group lost their record contract with Decca that year, which also saw the release of a single called "I'm Your Witchdoctor" (produced by Jimmy Page) in October 1965, the first credited to John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, [1] followed by a return to Decca in 1966. Then in August 1966 John Mayall and Eric Clapton released the single "Lonely Years", with the b-side "Bernard Jenkins", [1] which was released by Purdah Records. [6] The album Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton was released in July; [1] it reached the Top Ten in the UK.

Shortly after Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton was released, Eric Clapton saw Buddy Guy in concert, and being impressed by his trio, the idea for Cream was formed, and he left to form this new group with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. [7] Clapton was replaced by Peter Green for the album A Hard Road , which was recorded with McVie on bass and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. Then the same line-up served as backing band for the album Eddie Boyd and His Blues Band Featuring Peter Green. After this, Green left to form Fleetwood Mac.

Mick Taylor then joined the group, and they recorded Crusade on 12 July 1967. Soon after, McVie joined Fleetwood Mac and was replaced by Tony Reeves for the album Bare Wires , which was their highest-charting UK album. Then Reeves, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Jon Hiseman left to form Colosseum. Following a further album, Blues from Laurel Canyon , Taylor then left to join the Rolling Stones, and the name "Bluesbreakers" was dropped from John Mayall albums.

By the time the 1960s were over, the Bluesbreakers had finally achieved some success in the United States.

Joe Yuele, drummer with the band, 2008 Joe Yuele with John Mayall 2008.jpg
Joe Yuele, drummer with the band, 2008

With some interruptions, the Bluesbreakers have continued to tour and release albums (over 50 to date), though they never achieved the critical or popular acclaim of their earlier material. In 2003, Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Chris Barber reunited with the band for John Mayall's 70th Birthday Concert in Liverpool—the concert was later released on CD and DVD. In 2004, their lineup included Buddy Whittington, Joe Yuele, Hank Van Sickle and Tom Canning, and the band toured the UK with Mick Taylor as a guest musician.

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. A 2009 solo tour with Rocky Athas (formerly of Black Oak Arkansas) was the first musical venture Mayall undertook after disbanding the band. [8] Former band member Johnny Almond died on 18 November 2009 from cancer, aged 63. [9]

In 2009, Eagle Records asked Mayall for a new album, and he put together a solo band including Rocky Athas (guitar), Tom Canning (keyboard), Greg Rzab (bass) and Jay Davenport (percussion) and produced the album Tough the same year. After a year, Canning left because of other priorities. [10]


Main lineup


Studio albums

See also

Related Research Articles

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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.

British blues is a form of music derived from American blues that originated in the late 1950s, and reached its height of mainstream popularity in the 1960s. In Britain, it developed a distinctive and influential style dominated by electric guitar and made international stars of several proponents of the genre including The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin.

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John McVie British bass guitarist

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<i>Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton</i> 1966 studio album by John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, colloquially known as The Beano Album, is a studio album by the English blues rock band John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Produced by Mike Vernon and released in 1966 by Decca Records (UK) and London Records (US), it pioneered a guitar-dominated blues-rock sound.

<i>A Hard Road</i> 1967 studio album by John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

A Hard Road is the third album recorded by John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, released in 1967. It features Peter Green on lead guitar, John McVie on bass, Aynsley Dunbar on drums and John Almond on saxophone. Tracks 5, 7 and 13 feature the horn section of Alan Skidmore and Ray Warleigh. Peter Green sings lead vocals on "You Don't Love Me" and "The Same Way".

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<i>Crusade</i> (album) 1967 album by John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

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<i>Bare Wires</i> 1968 album by John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

For the American band see Matthew Melton

<i>Looking Back</i> (John Mayall album) 1969 compilation album by John Mayall

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<i>Thru the Years</i> 1971 compilation album by John Mayall

Thru the Years is a compilation album of music by John Mayall released in October 1971 by Decca Records in the U.K. and London Records in the U.S.A. The album was the second compilation to be issued by Decca/London with Mayall's blessing, although his contract with them had ceased. It features a mixture of previously unissued songs or non-album tracks that had only been released as singles.

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John Mayall discography

The discography of English blues rock musician John Mayall, including the band John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, consists of 35 studio albums, 34 live albums, 24 compilation albums, four extended plays (EPs), 44 singles and four video albums. Mayall's 36th studio album was released in 2019.


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  2. The Complete Rock Family Trees, Omnibus Press (Dec 1983, ISBN   978-0-7119-0465-1) lists 109 different lineups
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