After reading this article, you’ll understand how John Mayer was influenced by American blues and blues rock artists. You’ll also learn how he was able to incorporate blues into pop music.
John Mayer started playing guitar at age 13. Around this time, a neighbor gave him a mix tape with blues rock guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan, on one side of it. Mayer was wowed by Vaughan. This fascination led him to emulate Stevie Ray Vaughan, and also to discover other blues guitarists, such as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Freddie King, Albert King, Otis Rush, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Jimi Hendrix.
Pop and Blues Career
While Mayer was known as an acoustic guitar singer-songwriter on his first two albums, Room For Squares and Heavier Things, he would unexpectedly perform electric blues guitar during his live performances.
In 2005, Mayer formed the John Mayer Trio, which combined blues and rock music. They opened for the Rolling Stones and released an album called Try!.
In 2006, his third studio album, Continuum, was intended to combine blues and pop. The blues/pop song “Waiting On The World To Change” was a huge hit. The song “Vultures” combined soul and pop, with a short B. B. King type blues solo. “Gravity” is an amalgam of blues, soul, and R&B, with a touch of jazz, reminiscent of the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
In 2008, Mayer released the live concert film, Where The Light Is. It featured Mayer doing an acoustic set, then a blues set with the John Mayer Trio, then a full band set of the Continuum album.
In addition, Mayer has done a number of live collaborations with legendary blues guitarists such as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, Jimmy Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall, and Gary Clark, Jr,. as well as Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band, Double Trouble.
Here are a few examples of John Mayer’s live collaborations and the original blues songs they came from:
John Mayer and Buddy Guy performing Buddy Guy’s – “Leave My Little Girl Alone”
The original Buddy Guy version – “Leave My Little Girl Alone”
John Mayer and B.B. King perform B.B. King’s “Sweet Little Angel”
The original B.B. King version of “Sweet Little Angel”
John Mayer and Eric Clapton performing the Cream/Clapton version of “Crossroads”
Cream – “Crossroads”
The original Robert Johnson version – “Cross Road Blues”
We hope you enjoyed learning about John Mayer’s blues influences. The reference section below contains links to several more live collaborations between John Mayer and legendary blues artists.
- John Mayer – Wikipedia
- Guitar World Interview – Stevie Ray Vaughan – neighbor’s mix tape
- Guitar World – John Mayer’s 10 Best Guest Appearances
- 2003 – John Mayer with Buddy Guy and Double Trouble (NBC)
- 2003 – John Mayer with Double Trouble – Austin City Limits
- 2003 – John Mayer with Buddy Guy – Austin City Limits
- 2005 – John Mayer with Buddy Guy at Farm Aid
- 2006 – John Mayer with BB King at Guitar Center’s King of the Blues
- 2007- John Mayer with Eric Clapton – Crossroads (ABC)
- 2012 John Mayer with Tedeschi Trucks and B. B. King at the Hollywood Bowl
- 2015 – John Mayer with Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall, Gary Clark Jr, and Double Trouble