Mayall the maestro still going strong at 80

John Mayall
John Mayall

There’s no denying that Godfather of British Blues is some title to live up to, but John Mayall manages it with ease.

The Manchester born musician’s place in music history became apparent to many when he put together the first of his bands, the Bluesbreakers back in 1963.

But now, as he enters his 80s, he continues to perform to audiences across the globe and is currently doing just that on what has been named his ‘80th anniversary tour’.

And on Friday, November 14, the show hits the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline.

John is the artist who provides the link between Cream, Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones and his role as front man and mentor has shaped and influenced modern music history in a multitude of ways.

Entering a new decade in his life, Mayall is currently embarking on a tour which includes 34 UK dates this autumn, following gigs in America, Canada and Europe already this year.

Speaking to the Press he said: “It’s great, it’s a wonderful tour they have set up for me and I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s always nice to come back to the UK.

“The one thing about it compared to the rest of the world is that everyone speaks the same language.

“It’s good and I’m looking forward to having some really good times.”

When asked about getting older and how it feels to still be performing live at venues across the world John said: “It’s a piece of paper that says how old I am.

“It doesn’t bear any relation to the music and energy I put out.

“I still enjoy doing what I’m doing.”

On the current tour John is joined by his band, Texan guitarist Rocky Athas, bassist Greg Rzab and fellow Chicagoan Jay Davenport.

In a career spanning over half a century John has released 60 albums and contributed to the rock-blues scene more than any other musician in history.

He continues to actively record and this summer he released his first new studio album in five years, entitled “A Special Life”, serving as further testament to Mayall’s boundless talent, vitality and ever dynamic personality.

“Some will say it’s been a long wait, but it’s not been my fault,” John explained.

“The record company let us down and kept us waiting and waiting, so I said forget about it and moved on.

“Now we’ve got a good solid blues album.

“I had a great time making it.

“We’ve (the band) been together for over five years so we know what we’re doing.”

Along with his accomplished band, for this record he goes back to his roots on the new album with an eclectic mix of songs centred in the blues, but with diversions into rock and Americana.

Throughout the 60s, his band, the Bluesbreakers, acted as a finishing school for the leading blues-rock musicians of the day. Guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor joined his band in a remarkable succession in the mid 60s, honing their skills before going on to join Cream, Fleetwood Mac and Rolling Stones.

But it didn’t stop there. John Mcvie, Mick Fleetwood, Jack Bruce and John Almond all played and recorded with Mayall in the 60s.

So having been in the music industry for as many years as John has and seeing big changes in the business thanks to technology, how has it affected him?

“For me things haven’t changed that much,” he said.

“As long as I’m able to record and go on the road that’s all that matters.

“It’s not important how that then gets out there, so it hasn’t changed that much.”

So what can people expect from the live show next week?

He added: “It’s definitely a mix of songs people have known from the early days and new versions of some of those.

“It’s really a different set every night depending how we feel, but we’ll be featuring the new album material too.”

For the UK tour John and his band will supported by special guest artist, King King.

Having won twice Best Blues Band Award at the British Blues Awards, the Glasgow four piece led by vocalist/guitarist Alan Nimmo have burst out the block, garnering rave reviews for what critics have called their first two classic albums.

And the band are embarking on their busiest period to date as they come to the stage supporting John fresh from the studio, with their hotly anticipated third album due out next spring.

Following the 34-date tour, King King are planning a run of British headline dates for early next year, with plans afoot for wider touring in France, Germany, Scandinavia and beyond after that.

After their debut in 2010, King King soon hit on a winning dynamic, with Alan and Lindsay Coulson co-writing the original material and proving their studio alchemy with 2011’s debut album.

This is a chance to see King King for yourself live as they support the Godfather of British Blues.

John Mayall plays the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline on Friday, November 14.