There’s a growing list of veteran pop and rock acts who’ve announced an end to touring — Paul Simon, Joan Baez, Elton John — and we can now add another: John Mayall.
The godfather of the British blues scene, who will turn 88 next month, has announced an end to his “epic road-dog days”: “I have decided, due to the risks of the pandemic and my advancing age, that it is time for me to hang up my road shoes,” he says.
Although he fell short of declaring he was completely giving up live shows (continuing a tradition from Sinatra to Bowie to LCD Soundsystem), Mayall says he will be “limiting my performances to local shows near my home in California, and the occasional concert further afield.”
His future as a recording artist is up in the air, but Mayall will be releasing at least one more album. The Sun Is Shining Down features collaborations with former Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, blues-Americana singer-guitarist Marcus King, country singer-songwriter Buddy Miller, and violinist Scarlet Rivera, best known for her work with Bob Dylan during his Rolling Thunder Revue period.
Mayall is previewing the album with his Campbell hookup, “Chills & Thrills,” a stomper that barrels down the blues-rock highway, fueled by Campbell’s lead guitar. A celebration of returning to home base after a long time away (“Baby, I’m coming home/We’ve been apart so very long”), it’s almost a soundtrack to Mayall’s recent career decision.
Over the decades, Mayall has released dozens of albums and hired young backup players — including Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green and John McVie, and future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor — who went on to more fame and fortune than Mayall probably saw for himself. “One of my favorite albums is Crusade, which featured Mick Taylor,” Campbell says. “I also liked it because the keys were listed next to the songs, so it was easy to play along to.” Adds Mayall of Campbell, “It sounds like he’s been in the band for years.”
The Sun Is Shining Down arrives on January 28th.