Veteran blues star, 83, has no plans to hang up guitar just yet

John Mayall. Picture: Roni Newman.
John Mayall. Picture: Roni Newman.
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The veteran guitarist regarded by many people as the Godfather of British Blues returns to the UK for another tour which will feature tracks from his latest album, Talk About That – his 65th original long-player.

John Mayall is preparing for a 36-date tour of the UK – including a date in Sheffield and a tour that during which he will celebrate his 84th birthday.

John rose to fame in the 1960s, when he founded John Mayall & the Bluebreakers and enjoyed a strong of top-10 albums.

The band was the catalyst for a boom in the genre and, during various line-ups, included some of the most famous blues and blues rock musicians around, Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Walter Trout, Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood amongst them.

In fact, one Bluesbreaker, Buddy Whittington, formed his own band and will be the special guests on the forthcoming tour.

John’s unique take on blues music helped him find fame in the US where he was lauded for his jazz/rock/blues fusions.

He received a Grammy Award for his 1993 album Wake Up Call, which featured guest musicians Taylor, Mavis Staples and Buddy Guy.

He was made an OBE for his services to British music in 2005 and inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame just last year.

In 2008, he retired the Bluesbreakers name and has since toured with George Rzab and Jay Davenport as a trio.

Speaking from Los Angeles, the Blues singer, guitarist, organist and songwriter admits the Godfather title is a happy honour.

“I don’t even think about it, to be honest,” he says.

“It’s meant to be complimentary and I take it as such.

“I grew up with jazz and blues in the house, so I guess that music is in my DNA and I think I’ve put it to good use.”

Talk About That was released in January and has received strong feedback.

“It’s had very good reviews and I’m very proud of it,” says John.

“It was great recording it too – we had Joe Walsh with us on a couple of tracks.”

For the forthcoming six-week tour, which includes a show at Sheffield City Hall on Tuesday, October 24, John will be keeping his band on their toes.

“We play a different set every night drawn from a list of about 40 songs,” he says.

“No two sets are the same. I try to make it a good mixture and a cross-section of my career from the earliest songs to the latest. It makes it very interesting.”

Although resident in the US for nearly five decades – he settled there at the age of 36 – Cheshire-born John still enjoys playing in Britain.

He says: “There is always a phenomenal reception for us in the UK and Europe.

“I think it might be that we don’t play there very often, but I always look forward to playing in the UK as it’s my homeland, even though I moved to the US in 1969.”

And John, who was born in Macclesfield and who will celebrate his 84th birthday on tour in St Albans – “there are no special plans for show the show – says he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

“It’s not come up yet,” he says.

“However, if the day comes when I can’t get up on stage and give an energetic performance, that’ll be the time.”

Tickets for John’s Sheffield show are now available, priced from £30.80, from www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk