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John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

British Blues Borne of the Bluesbreakers

If you look through charts of Britain’s top rock and blues charts, you might be hard pressed to find the name Bluesbreakers on any of the hits. But if you look a little closer into their roster over the years, and the bands that formed from their alumni, it’s easier to see why John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers is considered one of the greatest incubators of British blues and rock music.

The band that became the Bluesbreakers was formed in 1963, and had over 100 different combinations of musicians playing under one name, until its final disbanding in 2008. And in 45 years, just about every influential British blues musician you can think of has made their way through the band, the one constant always being Mayall on lead vocals.

The first official lineup of the group included guitarist Bernie Watson, bassist John McVie (of later Fleetwood Mac fame) and drummer Peter Ward. But Martin Hart replaced Ward shortly after the band’s formation, and before the release of their first single, Watson and Hart were replaced by Roger Dean and Hughie Flint, respectively. And much of the Bluesbreakers history goes as such, with an ever-evolving roster of rock stars.

The photo above is from the October 31, 1967 iteration of the band, which included Mick Taylor, who would go on to perform with the Rolling Stones on some of their classic albums, and Dick Heckstall-Smith of Colosseum. Most notably, however, are Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, later of Cream, and Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie, who would go on to form Fleetwood Mac.


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