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February 06, 2018

Mahindra Blues Spotlight: Meet John Mayall, The Grandfather Of British Blues

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

“I’m expecting lots of adventures at the festival and am looking forward to performing for fans in India”

On his introduction to music “I started collecting eclectic blues records at the age of 10, when everything was on 78 rpm discs and LPs hadn’t been invented yet. Blues records were available in abundance back then and the first ones I bought in the boogie-woogie line were by Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Lead Belly. My father had a big 78s collection of all the artistes from the ’20s.”

On his humble beginnings “I spent three years in Korea for national service and, during a period of leave, bought my first electric guitar. I then enrolled in the Manchester School of Arts, which is now part of Manchester Metropolitan University, and started playing with a semi-professional band.”

On the evolution of the blues as a genre “It represents the mood of a society and its primary events at any given time. It is a genre that has trailed on and kept up with the times.”

On what’s keeping him busy right now “My tour calendar is booked for the entire year, and I’m excited to perform around the globe. For now, I’m expecting lots of adventures at the Mahindra Blues Festival and am looking forward to performing for fans in India.”

On his favourite recording moments “A day before we recorded The Devil Must Be Laughing, we got a message through the studio owner from Joe Walsh asking if he could come by and play on a track or two as a guest. Who was I to say no to that? Joe turned up at noon on the appointed day and with just a quick listen, plugged in and did the song in one take. The second song followed the same trajectory, and with a smile and a quick photo, Joe was on his way. I remember being giddy from all the excitement!”

The Mahindra Blues Festival will take place at Mehboob Studio, Mumbai from February 10-11, 2018.

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