.

Mayer Sings the Blues

John tackles Hendrix, Jackson at "surprise" L.A. show

December 7, 2004 12:00 AM ET
John Mayer's Monday night show at Los Angeles' famed Viper Room was supposed to be a surprise, but his name on the marquee removed any air of mystery. Still, the singer-songwriter had some surprises in store for the capacity crowd.

Taking the stage a little after midnight, Mayer launched into a lengthy blues instrumental that showed off his considerable guitar chops. "I'm just gonna chill out and relax," he said from the stage.

A blues enthusiast, Mayer channeled the spirits of everybody from Albert King and Buddy Guy to Jimi Hendrix, playing both "Axis Bold as Love" and "The Wind Cries Mary." Doing his best Stevie Ray Vaughan, Mayer so impressed the crowd that ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, a guitarist who knows something about the blues, jumped on stage and shouted repeatedly, "Give it up for my boy!" This seemed to surprise even Mayer, who said, "I don't know what the hell is going on. Hello, Mr. Gibbons." But, as Mayer later pointed out, "This is a blues jam and that means there's no structure."

Near the end of the hour-plus set, vocalist David Ryan Harris joined Mayer and released the guitarist's funky side during an extended jam of Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Starting Something."

Mayer, who played until nearly 1:30 a.m., thanked the crowd for letting him indulge himself. "I know I have the best fans in the world," he said, "because they let me play whatever I want whenever I want."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com