John Mayall - Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton (1966)

John Mayall is a British blues singer and multi-instrumentalist, who was a major figure in the 60s British blues scene.

After the release of his debut live album and a couple of non-charting singles, John Mayall had to find a new lead guitarist for his band The Bluesbreakers, after the departure of Roger Dean. He found one in the young Eric Clapton, who had recently left The Yardbirds as he was unhappy with their move away from blues into pop. It was a match that suited both of them - Mayall got a flashy hot-shot guitarist to give his group a new appeal, and Clapton got to continue playing his beloved blues music with one of Britain's top artists in the genre. Clapton joined in April 1965.
With Clapton, the Bluesbreakers started to attract considerable attention, and they recorded a single ("I'm Your Witch Doctor" b/w "Telephone Blues"). However in August he suddenly disappeared to Greece, and Mayall had to quickly find a replacement, which he soon found in Peter Green. At the same time bassist John McVie was replaced by Jack Bruce from the Graham Bond Organization. But Clapton returned in November and took up his position as guitarist again. McVie also returned. The group (with Hughie Flint on drums) then went to the studio, and in three days recorded a new album, released on Decca Records in July 1966.
Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton proved to be a highly influential album, and a cornerstone in the British blues genre. Most importantly, Clapton's fluid and powerful guitar playing was entirely new at the time - it was one of the first instances of the Gibson Les Paul guitar and Marshall amplifier combination, and introduced a whole new sound to the electric guitar. It has since achieved the status of a classic guitar album, and elevated Clapton to 'God' status amongst British guitar enthusiasts.
The songs were a mix of blues and R&B covers (including Otis Rush's "All Your Love", Freddie King's "Hideaway", Robert Johnson's "Ramblin' On My Mind" and Ray Charles' "What'd I Say") and originals from Mayall. Mayall played organ, piano and harmonica and was the lead singer, though Clapton got to sing his first lead vocal on "Ramblin' On My Mind". On several songs the group were fleshed out by a three-piece horn section.
Clapton only stayed with the Bluesbreakers for little over a year. By July 1966 he had gone, to form Cream with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. The album turned out to be a small but majorly significant stepping stone in his career. For Mayall, it turned out to be a much-needed boost in popularity and recognition, and remains today his best-known album.

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