Mayall magic ... at 80!

John Mayall
John Mayall

John Murray on the Blues-meister who once played Valley Gardens

Known in some circles as the godfather of British blues, John Mayall is still very active at age 80.

As skiffle started to decline and trad jazz became popular in 1962, many young men turned to the blues for their kicks and when Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies opened a blues club in Ealing, they now had an outlet.

Mayall was already 30 years of age and moved to London, putting together his band under the banner of the Blues breakers.

Eric Clapton left The Yardbirds to join his mate Jack Bruce in the band, recording a legendary album before they left to form Cream.

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers became a vehicle for all young blues musicians including Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie who would then form Fleetwood Mac.

Their relentless touring took them all over the UK and in April 1968 they played Kirkcaldy YMCA in Valley Gardens.

Tickets were 10/- (50p) and 8/6 for members and playing that night were Keef Hartley on drums (who as Keef Harley Band played Woodstock Festival), 15-year-old Andy Fraser on bass (later that year formed Free), Dick Heckstall-Smith on sax (Colosseum) and Mick Taylor, later of the Rolling Stones on guitar.

Quite a line-up, even for the YM.

Next week, John, with his new band, will release A Special Life (Forty Below) revisiting standards and introducing three new songs.

World Gone Crazy is his and a mid tempo commentary with accompanying harmonica from John.

And, on the title track, he further exploits that wailing blues harmonica.

On Albert King’s Flooding In California, he shows he can still carve out some guitar licks too, overdubbing his customary Hammond organ.

To celebrate this new record, he is touring and there is a rare chance to see him live at the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline, on November 14.