John Mayall Mayall was born in Macclesfield, Cheshire, the son of Murray Mayall, a guitarist and jazz enthusiast. From an early age, he was drawn to the sounds of American blues players such as Leadbelly, Albert Ammons, Pinetop Smith, and Eddie Lang, and taught himself to play the piano, guitars, and harmonica.
Mayall attended art college and then had three years of national service with the British Army in Korea. In 1956, he started playing blues with semi-professional bands named "The Powerhouse Four" and, later, "The Blues Syndicate". Under the influence of Alexis Korner, he moved to London and formed "John Mayall's Bluesbreakers".
The band was always something of a training ground for blues musicians, and went through several changes of personnel, before the arrival of Eric Clapton, with whom they achieved their first commercial success. After Clapton left to form Cream, the Bluesbreakers took on a succession of other notable musicians, including Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Taylor. Eric Clapton is quoted as saying, "John Mayall has actually run an incredibly great school for musicians."
In the early 1970s, Mayall achieved commercial success in the United States and moved to Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles. There, he was influential in the developing careers of musicians such as Blue Mitchell, Red Holloway, Larry Taylor, and Harvey Mandel.
Mayall has continued to play and tour, ever since, including reforming the Bluesbreakers in 1982.
In 2005, he was awarded an OBE in the Honours List.