"John Mayall's inestimable influence on the evolution of British blues stems more from his talents as a bandleader than from his own talents as a musician. While he's a very gifted instrumentalist, particularly on blues harp, it's his unerring ear for recognizing raw talent that's made John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, in all its incarnations, the legend that it is today...John Mayall evolves by not evolving. At 73, he maintains a vibrancy in his music that never sounds dated. Part of that is his unabashed love for what he's doing. More importantly for us, what he loves happens to be the blues.." –- The New York Times (January 28, 2007)
"John Mayall, “The Godfather of the Blues,” continues to draw audiences to his live shows...When you consider that Mayall will soon turn 78, it’s all the more amazing what he accomplishes here." -- Live In London (October 24, 2011)
The Shedd Institute is pleased to welcome back to the Jaqua Concert Hall John Mayall. Last year's show was one sweet eveninf of work. We can't wait.
At a 70th Birthday celebration in aid of UNICEF in Liverpool, a concert was filmed, recorded and released as a DVD and double CD in December 2003. Along with the Bluesbreakers, it featured old friends Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Chris Barber. The BBC also aired an hour-long documentary on John's life and career entitled 'The Godfather of British Blues' and to coincide with the release of 'Road Dogs' in 2005, John was awarded an OBE by The Queen's Honours list. In the Spring of 2007, John Mayall's 56th album release,'In The Palace Of The King," was an entire studio album that honored and paid tribute to the music of Mayall's long-time hero of the blues, Freddie King. All garnered great reviews, critical and popular acclaim and represent Mayall's ongoing mastery of the blues and his continuing importance in contemporary music.
In addition, over the last ten years, Mayall released live recordings on his own online label, Private Stash Records. (Some still available from his website johnmayall.com. They included 'Time Capsule' (containing historic 1957-62 live tapes), 'UK Tour 2K', (from a 2000 British tour), 'Boogie Woogie Man', (a selection of solo performances), 'Cookin' Down Under', (a live DVD from Australia) and 'No Days Off', (another British live show).
By October 2008, the years of heavy touring were beginning to take their toll on John and he reluctantly announced his decision to take an indefinite break and permanently retire the name 'Bluesbreakers'. It was a sad occasion to say farewell to Buddy and the guys after twenty years of great music and camaraderie but things had reached another turning point. This caused quite a stir in blues circles and lead to rumors about total retirement. Happily for the fans, early in 2009 Eagle Records called upon John to come up with a new album. Feeling much revived after months away from music, he put together a new band for the project.
A few years ago Buddy Whittington had introduced John to a fellow Texan guitarist Rocky Athas and he recalled how impressed he'd been at the time. Luckily he answered the call and was eager to come on board for the proposed album. With the need for a rhythm section of dynamic strength, John turned to bassist Greg Rzab who recommended his fellow Chicagoan Jay Davenport on drums. Finally the three guys were put together with keyboardist Tom Canning and within two days of meeting up in Los Angeles, the album 'Tough' was in the can. It had taken all of three days in the studio and, ever since it's release and a growing schedule of world tours, a new era was born. Although Tom toured with John and the guys for the first year, eventually his other priorities conflicted and he quit.
Since then, as a four piece, the dynamics have escalated to a high degree and in November 2010 a live show in London was recorded and is currently available from John's website on DVD and double CD formats. Today, John can safely say he's never been happier with his band and long career. Revived and revitalized, the long road continues.