The Godfather Of Blues has enjoyed a 50-year-plus career, with Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Andy Fraser among the now big names that passed through his early band The Bluesbreakers.
Apart from the fact that you’re playing two shows each night at Ronnie’s, what else can we expect from those gigs?
The most important thing is that each of the six appearances will be different. I’ve a lot of material, so I play a unique set-list every night.
Last summer you took on the role of guitarist when forced to play without Rocky Athas. Why keep it that way?
The trio thing is working out really well. I don’t play more guitar than I did, it’s just that whatever I play – harmonica, keyboards or organ – is now more prevalent. The interplay between myself, Greg [Rzab, bass] and Jay [Davenport, drums] is much more pronounced.
You’re doing a huge tour in the autumn. Few artists play tours of thirty-six dates of the UK any more, fewer still those who are in their eighties. Is it gruelling?
Not at all. It’s very casual, actually. Not like the big groups that are obliged to play the same songs every night. The pacing of our tours is quite relaxed.
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Support comes from Buddy Whittington, a former Bluesbreaker who was with the band for ten years. That’s a nice gesture.
It’s great to have Buddy out with us. As the sole guitar player of the evening, the really good thing about having him there is the contrast of the two bands’ instrumentation.
Your latest record, Talk About That, is your 65th album of original material. Is there one of those you now consider below par?
The one that’s still a mystery to me was made when my manager of the time paired me with Allen Toussaint [as producer and co-writer]. When the album [Notice To Appear, 1976] came out there was very little of me on it.
Could you offer some advice to somebody looking to have a career as a musician?
It’s a hit-and-miss business, and there’s no secret formula. Just play exactly the way you feel, and hope to find an audience.
John Mayall plays London Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on April 4, 5 and 6.