John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers were a pioneering English blues band, led by singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist John Mayall, OBE. Mayall used the band name between 1963 and '67 then dropped it for some fifteen years, but in 1982 a 'Return of the Bluesbreakers' was announced and the name began to be re-used. The name became generic without a clear distinction which recordings could be credited just to the leader or to leader and his band. The Bluesbreakers have included luminaries such as:
The Bluesbreakers were formed in January 1963 and became an ever-evolving lineup of more than 100 different combinations of musicians performing under that name. Eric Clapton joined in 1965 just a few months after the release of their first album. Clapton brought the blues influences to the forefront of the group, as he had left The Yardbirds in order to play the blues.
The group lost their record contract with Decca that year, which also saw the release of a single called "I'm Your Witchdoctor" (produced by Jimmy Page), followed by a return to Decca in 1966. The album Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton (also known as The Beano Album because Clapton is shown on the cover photo reading a copy of the comic) was released later that year; it reached the Top Ten in the UK.
Clapton and Jack Bruce left the group that year to form Cream. Clapton was replaced by Peter Green for A Hard Road, after which he left to form Fleetwood Mac. Finally, in 1969, the third Bluesbreaker-guitarist departed when Mick Taylor joined the Rolling Stones.
By the time the 1960s were over, the Bluesbreakers had finally achieved some success in the United States.
With some interruptions, the Bluesbreakers have continued to tour and release albums (over 50 to date), though they never achieved the critical or popular acclaim of their earlier material. In 2003, Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Chris Barber reunited with the band for John Mayall's 70th Birthday Concert in Liverpool — the concert was later released on CD and DVD. In 2004, their line up included Buddy Whittington, Joe Yuele, Hank Van Sickle and Tom Canning, and the band toured the UK with Mick Taylor as a guest musician.
In November 2008 Mayall announced on his website he was disbanding the Bluesbreakers to cut back on his heavy workload and give himself freedom to work with other musicians.