Godfather of Blues turns back the clock

John Mayall
John Mayall

When John Mayall formed The Bluesbreakers in 1963, he had no idea that because of the band members that would be in and out of the band, he would be forever labelled as ‘The Godfather of British Blues’.

And now he is undertaking a year-long world tour, with the UK leg arriving at Buxton Opera House on Thursday October 30, at 7.30pm.

What’s special about that, I hear you say. Well, Mayall is 80-years-old and will be 81 in the week after his UK tour concludes in mid-November.

“Age doesn’t come into it,” he explained, speaking from his home in California. “I’m pretty healthy and as long as I’ve got the energy to perform, then I will.

“As long as I can play my music, that’s the main thing.”

Mayall, who was attracted to blues music from an early age, continued: “The blues is about expressing feelings and I never learned to read or write music, so I play what I feel.”

The Bluesbreakers provided a ‘leg-up’ to some of this country’s greatest guitar legends with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green and John McVie, Andy Fraser and Mick Taylor all being part of the band at one time or another.

Plenty of prodigious talent there, but does anybody stand out?

“Obviously Eric Clapton is the one that drew attention to our work.

“He was, and is, a great player and we shared a love of blues music,” Mayall said without hesitation.

Mayall’s current band includes Texan guitarist Rocky Athas and two Chicago-born musicians in Greg Rzab (bass) and drummer Jay Davenport.

Together, they have recorded ‘A Special Life’, Mayall’s first studio album in five years. This contains new compositions, plus some blues favourites.

“Everything I write is about real life,” he insisted. “I feel that I have had a special life – hence the title.”

The album’s tracks will feature in the show, which Mayall promises to be ‘special’.

He added: “We really do a different show every night. There’s so much to choose from. We’ll change maybe five songs from night to night.

“Of course, we’ll try and include songs from the earliest to the latest; it’ll be a good cross-section.”

Tickets for Mayall’s 80th anniversary tour, priced £28.50 and £30.50, are available from the box office on 0845 127 2190 or via www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk.