Ipswich: Godfather of British blues John Mayall reveals he is still keen to try new things ahead of Regent gig on Saturday night

John Mayall, in Ipswich October 18

John Mayall, in Ipswich October 18 - Credit: Archant

A Special Life is John Mayall’s first studio album in five years. It’s a fitting title.

Support act King King. Photo: Marco van Rooijen/BluesMagazin

Support act King King. Photo: Marco van Rooijen/BluesMagazin - Credit: Archant

During the 1960s his first band the Bluesbreakers was a finishing school for the leading blues-rock musicians of the day. Guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor honed their skills there before going on to join Cream, Fleetwood Mac and Rolling Stones. John Mcvie, Mick Fleetwood, Jack Bruce and John Almond all played and recorded with him during that time too.

“There are titles you pick up along the way... I’ll take anything that comes my way,” laughs Mayall when I ask what it feels like to have been dubbed the undisputed godfather of British Blues.

During the last 50-plus years, he’s released 60 albums and continues to tour; despite rumours back in 2008 he was calling it a day.

“It was blown up, the retirement thing. The band that had been together 15 years wasn’t exactly tired, but I felt like doing something else. In order to regroup I took a break but it turned out it wasn’t too long, the record company wanted a new album so I put the new band together and we’ve been together ever since.”

To mark his 80th anniversary, Mayall will be joined on the road by his band Rocky Athas, Greg Rzab and Jay Davenport for a world tour that stops by the Ipswich Regent on October 18.

“I’m having such a good time playing, it’s very encouraging we have an audience out there all the time. It’s my responsibility to give them the best that I can do. The audiences I have, it’s (also) very encouraging I can do what I want musically.”

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He’s never worried about straying outside his comfort zone; incorporating other genres like jazz, funk and even pop elements into his work.

“There’s a little bit of that in everything I’ve done. It’s mainly triggered off by the fact I enjoy creating music and there’s so much to do. One thing leads to another, I’m not afraid to try new things.”

A Special Life sees him return to his roots with an eclectic mix of songs centered in the blues but with diversions into rock and Americana.

“We’ll be playing quite a few tracks from the new album, but there’s so much to choose from... We’ve tried to put together new versions of many of the older tracks so it’s a good cross section. You can look forward to a nice repetoire,” says Mayall, who changes the set list every night. Isn’t that a headache?

“No headaches at all. I’m a very lucky man to have the freedom to play and create music and have it appreciated. I don’t know any other way. I just love playing music and don’t like to play the same things. It (music) is a constant source of exploration. I hope the weather is good,” he laughs. “If not we’ll cheer you up.”

Mayall will be supported by Glasgow four-piece King King, led by singer and guitarist Alan Nimmo, who have won best blues band at the British Blues Awards twice and won rave reviews for their first two albums Standing in the Shadows and Take My Hand.

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