John Mayall - vocal, harmonica, organ, piano, guitar,
John Mayall was born 29th of November 1933 in Macclesfield, a small English village near the industrial hub of Manchester—a far cry at that time from the black American blues culture we are familiar with today. 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.
John Mayall's first brush with fame, however, was not for his music. As a teenager, he decided to move out of the house, and, showing the signature eccentricities and artistic qualities that have added to his legendary status, he moved into his backyard treehouse. This gained him notoriety enough to receive newspaper attention. Even more so, since, upon returning from a stint in Korea, he brought his first wife Pamela to live with him there.
From an art college training, to three years with the British Army in Korea, to a successful career in graphic design, his blues singing and playing took a back seat until he reached the age of 30. From 1956 until 1962, John was performing publicly on a part-time basis fronting The Powerhouse Four and, later on, The Blues Syndicate. It was then that Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated pioneered what was to become known as The British Blues Boom of the Late 60's. Alexis was quick to encourage and help John make his move to London where he soon secured enough club work to be able to turn professional under the name John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. After a couple of years and a constant turnover of musicians, he met his soulmate in Eric Clapton, who had quit the Yardbirds in favor of playing the blues. This historic union culminated in the first hit album for the Bluesbreakers and resulted in worldwide legendary status.
After Clapton and Jack Bruce left the band to form Cream, a succession of great musicians defined their artistic roots under John's leadership, and he became as well known for discovering new talent as for his hard- hitting interpretations of the fierce Chicago-style blues he'd grown up listening to. As sidemen left to form their own groups, others took their places. Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood became Fleetwood Mac. Andy Fraser formed Free, and Mick Taylor joined the Rolling Stones. As Eric Clapton has stated, "John Mayall has actually run an incredibly great school for musicians."