To say that John Mayall has an ear for talent is one of the greatest understatements you could utter. Over the course of his legendary, almost 60-year career, the artist performed with some of music’s most enduring figures, and his Bluesbreakers band, itself, helped launch or at least nurture some of rock music’s biggest names and acts. Here are just five.
Old Slowhand came into the Bluesbreakers fresh out of the Yardbirds (the ultimate breeding ground for guitarists with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page following), and, reportedly, as a direct result of that act moving away from its blues roots. While his two stints in the band were brief, spread out over a year, his appearance on the classic Blues Breakers album — released soon after he departed — helped make his reputation as one of the best blues guitarists of the time, and one of the best guitarists of all time. His next act, Cream, also featured former Bluesbreaker Jack Bruce along with future Blind Faith collaborator Ginger Baker.
After a two-year tenure as Bluesbreakers guitarist, Taylor was recruited for a little rock and roll combo called The Rolling Stones to replace Brian Jones. During his half-decade stint, Taylor appeared on a handful of Stones masterpieces, including Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St., and other than some remarkable playing is also said to have contributed considerably but uncredited almost entirely to the songwriting of those albums — something that is widely acknowledged as leading to his departure. He was inducted with them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has since performed live with the band, including as a guest on their current tour, even helping with the reissue of Exile.
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