John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers
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John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
John Mayall (1970).png
John Mayall in 1970, the year The Bluesbreakers broke up
Background information
OriginLondon, England
  • 1963 (1963)-1970 (1970)
  • 1982 (1982)-2008 (2008)

John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers was an English blues rock band, led by singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist John Mayall, OBE. While never producing a radio-friendly hit on their own, the Bluesbreakers' greatest legacy is 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 still appears heavily in classic rock radio. Among those with a tenure in the Bluesbreakers are Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce (later of Cream), Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie (who would form Fleetwood Mac), Mick Taylor (the Rolling Stones), Aynsley Dunbar (Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention), and numerous other musicians.

Mayall used the band name between 1963 and 1967, but then dropped it for some fifteen years. However, in 1982 a 'Return of the Bluesbreakers' was announced, and the name was in use until the band again dissolved in 2008. The name has become generic, without a clear distinction between recordings that are to be credited to Mayall alone and recordings that are to be credited to Mayall and his band.


The band that would evolve to the Bluesbreakers in 1965[1] was formed in March 1963 and became an ever-evolving lineup of more than 100 different combinations of musicians performing under that name.[2] Eric Clapton joined in April 1965, just 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 single release, Bernie Watson was replaced by Roger Dean, and Martin Hart was replaced by Hughie Flint. This lineup played on John Mayall Plays John Mayall. After this, the band released a single called "Crocodile Walk", with "Blues City Shakedown" as the b-side. The single was produced by Decca producer Tony Clarke.[4] Roger Dean then left the group and was replaced by Eric 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 went to see 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 A Hard Road, after which Green left to form Fleetwood Mac.

Then Mick Taylor 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. 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

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 his former band.[8] Former band member Johnny Almond died on 18 November 2009 from cancer, aged 63.[9]

However, 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]

Former members


John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

Original John Mayall albums

  • 1965: John Mayall Plays John Mayall (Decca) [live, December 1964]
  • 1966: Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (Decca) UK No. 6
  • 1967: A Hard Road (Decca) UK No. 10
  • 1967: Crusade (Decca) UK No. 8
  • 1967: The Blues Alone (Ace of Clubs) UK No. 24
  • 1968: The Diary of A Band - Volume One (Decca) [live] UK No. 27
  • 1968: The Diary of A Band - Volume Two (Decca) [live] UK No. 28
  • 1968: Bare Wires (Decca) UK No. 3
  • 1968: Blues from Laurel Canyon (Decca) UK No. 33
  • 1969: Looking Back (Decca) compilation [1964-1968] UK No.14
  • 1969: The Turning Point (Polydor) [live] UK No. 11
  • 1970: Empty Rooms (Polydor) [July-October 1969] UK No. 9
  • 1970: USA Union (Polydor) UK No. 50
  • 1971: Back to the Roots (Polydor, 2LP) UK No. 31
  • 1971: Memories (Polydor)
  • 1971: Thru the Years (Decca) compilation [1964-1968]
  • 1972: Down The Line (London, 2LP) compilation [1964-1968] second album in this set was the first official release of John Mayall Plays John Mayall in the USA
  • 1972: Jazz Blues Fusion (Polydor) [live, US, November-December 1971]
  • 1973: Moving On (Polydor) [studio + live, US, July 1972]
  • 1973: Ten Years Are Gone (Polydor, 2LP; then 2CD reissue in 2008) [studio + live, New York, 1972]
  • 1974: The Latest Edition (Polydor)
  • 1975: New Year, New Band, New Company (Blue Thumb/ABC - One Way)
  • 1976: Notice To Appear (ABC - One Way)
  • 1976: A Banquet In Blues (ABC - One Way)
  • 1977: Lots of People (ABC - One Way) [live, Los Angeles, November 1976]
  • 1977: A Hard Core Package (ABC - One Way)
  • 1977: Primal Solos (Decca) [live, UK, 1965 and 1968]
  • 1978: The Last of The British Blues (ABC - One Way) [live, US]
  • 1979: Bottom Line (DJM)
  • 1979: No More Interviews (DJM)
  • 1980: Road Show Blues (DJM), reissues:
    • 1982: Roadshow Blues Band
    • 1995: Why Worry
    • 1997: [Blues Breaker]
    • 1998: The Adventures of John Mayall
    • 2000: Lost And Gone
    • 2001: Reaching For The Blues
    • 2006: Godfather of The Blues
    • 2007: A Big Man
  • 1985: Return of The Bluesbreakers (AIM [Australia]) [1981 and 1982]
  • 1985: Behind The Iron Curtain (GNP Crescendo) [live, Hungary], reissue:
    • 2004: Steppin' Out
  • 1988: Chicago Line (Entente - Island), reissues:
    • 1994: Uncle John's Nickel Guitar (Dog 'N' Roll)
    • 1999: Blues Power (Recall, with live bonus CD: Life In The Jungle - Charly Blues Masterworks, Vol.4 [that was originally released in 1996])
    • 2000: Blue For You (Dressed To Kill)
    • 2000: Blues Breaker (Neon, with two live bonus tracks)
  • 1988: The Power of The Blues (Entente) [live, Germany, 1987], reissues:
    • 1992: British Blues (Editions Atlas)
    • 1993: New Bluesbreakers (The Blues Collection #008) (Orbis)
    • 2003: Blues Forever (Fuel)
  • 1988: Archives To Eighties (Polydor) [<-1971]
  • 1990: A Sense of Place (Island)
  • 1992: Cross Country Blues (One Way) [1981 and 1984]
  • 1993: Wake Up Call (Silvertone) UK No. 61
  • 1994: The 1982 Reunion Concert (One Way) [live, US]
  • 1995: Spinning Coin (Silvertone)
  • 1997: Blues For The Lost Days (Silvertone)
  • 1999: Padlock On The Blues (Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra; then Eagle in 2002) -with John Lee Hooker
  • 1999: Rock The Blues Tonight (Indigo, 2CD) [live, Canada, 1970 and 1971]
  • 1999: Live at The Marquee 1969 (Spitfire; then Eagle in 2002) [live, London]
  • 1999: The Masters (Spitfire, 2CD; then Eagle in 2002) [live, UK, 1969]
  • 1999: Live: 1969 (Eagle, 2CD), reissue:
    • 2004: The Turning Point Soundtrack
  • 2000: Reaching For The Blues '79-'81 (Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra)
  • 2001: Along For The Ride (Eagle/Red Ink)
  • 2002: Stories (Eagle/Red Ink)
  • 2003: Rolling With The Blues: John Mayall Live...The Second Decade 1972-1982 (Secret-Shakedown, 2CD + interview DVD; then Recall in 2005 but minus the DVD) [live, Germany, 1972-1973, USA, 1980-1982, and Italy, 1982], -note: on most Canadian editions, the verb Rolling has been changed to Running. reissue:
    • 2006: The Private Collection (Snapper, 2CD)
  • 2003: 70th Birthday Concert (Eagle, 2CD) [live, Liverpool]
  • 2005: Road Dogs (Eagle)
  • 2007: Live at The BBC (Decca) [1965-1967, and 1975]
  • 2007: In The Palace of The King (Eagle)
  • 2007: Live from Austin, Tx (New West) [1993]
  • 2008: Dreaming About The Blues (Blues Boulevard, 2CD) -note: reissues of both Chicago Line and The Power of The Blues
  • 2009: Tough (Eagle)
  • 2011: In The Shadow of Legends (Blues Boulevard) [live, New Jersey, 1982] -note: same material as Blues Alive/Jammin' With The Blues Greats DVD
  • 2014: A Special Life (Forty Below) -note: producer Eric Corne's label
  • 2015: Blues Alive NYC 1976 (Rockbeat) [live, October 1976]
  • 2015: Live In 1967 (Forty Below, London clubs)
  • 2015: Find A Way To Care (Forty Below)
  • 2016: Live In 1967, Volume 2 (Forty Below, London clubs)
  • 2016: Live At Jazz Fest 2016 (New Orleans, April 24) (Munck Music)
  • 2017: Talk About That (Forty Below, recorded Fall 2016)


  • 1982: Blues Alive VHS (re-released on DVD as Jammin' With The Blues Greats in 2004), a concert filmed in June 1982 at New Jersey's Capitol Theater with a lineup of Mayall, Mick Taylor, John McVie, and Colin Allen, with guests Albert King, Etta James, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, and Sippie Wallace
  • 2003: 70th Birthday Concert CD + DVD (Eagle) live 2003
  • 2004: The Godfather of British Blues/The Turning Point DVD (Eagle) documentary
  • 2004: Live at Iowa State University DVD (Quantum Leap/Umbrella) live 1987
  • 2004: Live From The Bottom Line, New York DVD (Quantum Leap/Umbrella) live 1990
  • 2006: Room To Move: John Mayall In Concert DVD (All Stars) live 1987 -note: same material (9 songs) as Live at Iowa State University, but adds 6 more from the same show
  • 2006: Bits And Pieces About...John Mayall DVD + bonus CD (Laserlight/Delta)
  • 2007: Live From Austin, TX DVD (New West) live 1993 on Austin City Limits
  • 2011: Live In Germany 1988 DVD (Immortal)
  • 2012: Sweet Little Angel: Paris 1970 DVD (IMV/Blueline) live 1970, with guest Duster Bennett
  • 2012: The Lost Broadcasts DVD (AIS/Gonzo) live 1969, and 1979

John Mayall's website only

"Private Stash" limited releases
  • 2000: Time Capsule (from Mayall's private archive, 19 tracks 1957-62)
  • 2001: UK Tour 2K (live)
  • 2001: Boogie Woogie Man (11 live "solo" concert performances, 2000)
  • 2003: No Days Off (live)
  • 2004: Cookin' Down Under (DVD)
  • 2011: Live In London (1 November 2010, 2CD and DVD)
  • 2012: Historic Live Shows, Vol. 1 (6 tracks 1970-71, Germany + 4 tracks 1990, Japan and Germany)
  • 2012: Historic Live Shows, Vol. 2 (12 tracks 1990-95, USA and Germany)
  • 2012: Historic Live Shows, Vol. 3 (4 tracks 1997, USA + 6 tracks 1998, Holland)

Unofficial editions and bootlegs

  • 1990: Crocodile Walk (bootleg, reissued as Bulldogs For Sale in 1996)
  • 1984: Blues Alive (RCA/Columbia, reissued as Back To The Roots, Gaha in 2002)
  • 198?: Dal vivo a Milano (bootleg) [live 26 November 1982]
  • 199?: Beano's Boys (bootleg)
  • 199?: The First 5 Years (Pontiac) [Crocodile Walk + BBC sessions + unreleased live tracks]
  • 199?: Simply Outstanding: Live at The Fillmore West '68 (Vintage Masters VMCDR-107) [same as Wolfgang's Vault]
  • 1999: Horny Blues (Massive Attack) [live 1972]
  • 1999: Mayallapolis Blues (Blues Tune BT09) [live in Minneapolis, 3 March 1993]
  • 2001: Archive: Live (Rialto)

UK singles

  • May 1964: "Crawling Up A Hill" / "Mr. James" (Decca F-11900)
  • Apr 1965: "Crocodile Walk" / "Blues City Shakedown" (Decca F-12120)
  • Oct 1965: "I'm Your Witchdoctor" / "Telephone Blues" (Immediate IM-012)[12]
  • Aug 1966: "Lonely Years" / "Bernard Jenkins" (Purdah 45-3502)
  • Sep 1966: "Key To Love" / "Parchman Farm" (Decca F-12490)
  • Oct 1966: "Looking Back" / "So Many Roads" (Decca F-12506)
  • Jan 1967: "Sitting In The Rain" / "Out Of Reach" (Decca F-12545)
  • 1967: "Curly" / "Rubber Duck" (Decca F-12588)[13] [note: this is just The Bluesbreakers band, no Mayall on these recordings]
  • Apr 1967: John Mayall's Bluesbreakers With Paul Butterfield (Decca DFE-R8673) [this is a 7" EP release; the four titles are "All My Life", "Ridin' On The L & N", "Little By Little", and "Eagle Eye"]
  • Jun 1967: "Double Trouble" / "It Hurts Me Too" (Decca F-12621)
  • Aug 1967: "I'm Your Witchdoctor" / "Telephone Blues" (Immediate IM-051) [reissue]
  • Oct 1967: "Suspicions, Pt. 1" / "Suspicions, Pt. 2" (Decca F-12684)
  • Feb 1968: "Jenny" / "Picture On The Wall" (Decca F-12732)
  • Jun 1968: "No Reply" / "She's Too Young" (Decca F-12792)
  • Nov 1968: "The Bear" / "2401" (Decca F-12846)[6]

US singles

  • Nov 1966: "Key To Love" / "Parchman Farm" (London 45-20016)
  • Apr 1967: "All Your Love" / "Hideaway" (London 45-20024)
  • Sep 1967: "I'm Your Witchdoctor" / "Telephone Blues" (Immediate ZS7-502)
  • Jan 1968: "Suspicions" / "Oh, Pretty Woman" (London 45-20035)
  • Apr 1968: "Jenny" / Picture On The Wall" (London 45-20037)
  • Jun 1968: "Broken Wings" / "Sonny Boy Blow" (London 45-20039)
  • Nov 1968: "Walking On Sunset" / "Living Alone" (London 45-20042)
  • Aug 1969: "Don't Waste My Time" / "Don't Pick A Flower" (Polydor PD-14004) Billboard Hot 100 #81
  • Nov 1969: "Room To Move" / "Saw Mill Gulch Road" (Polydor PD-14010)
  • Dec 1970: "Nature's Disappearing" / "My Pretty Girl" (Polydor PD-14051)
  • Mar 1972: "Play The Harp" / "Nobody Cares" (Polydor PD-14117)
  • Oct 1972: "Moving On" / "Keep Our Country Green" (Polydor PD-14151)
  • Jun 1974: "Gasoline Blues" / "Brand New Band" (Polydor PD-14243)
  • Aug 1974: "Let Me Give" (mono) / "Let Me Give" (stereo) (Polydor PD-14253)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "The Eric Clapton Lyric Archive - Search By Album". Retrieved 2011.
  2. ^ The Complete Rock Family Trees, Omnibus Press (Dec 1983, ISBN 978-0-7119-0465-1) lists 109 different lineups
  3. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 134. CN 5585.
  4. ^ "John Mayall And The Bluesbreakers - Crocodile Walk". YouTube. 8 July 2008. Retrieved 2011.
  5. ^ "Roger Dean - Bluesbreaker, Bluejay, Guitarist and more - Timeline". 16 March 1943. Retrieved 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Artists: J". 10 February 1910. Retrieved 2011.
  7. ^ Clapton, Eric (2007). Clapton: The Autobiography. Broadway.
  8. ^ "Newsletter". John Mayall. Retrieved 2011.
  9. ^ Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club". Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ "Mayall History". John Mayall. Retrieved 2012.
  11. ^ : The Turning Point
  12. ^ "Singles from Oct. 1965 to Sept. 1966". Retrieved 2015.
  13. ^ "The single is only titled "The Bluesbreakers", and it was the only one ever issued by the band without their leader". Retrieved 2015.

External links

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