Happy 89th birthday to John Mayall. The godfather of British blues, Mayall has been performing for over five decades. A generation older than the musicians who came of age in the 60s and 70s, Mayall was a mentor to many of the most successful ones, including Eric Claptop, Peter Green and Mick Taylor, along with Jack Bruce, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood.

Five of Mayall’s first seven albums reached the top 10 in the UK, each of which featured different artists playing along with the Bluesbreakers. After moving to the US, John Mayall continued his collaborative ways featuring numerous veteran blues and jazz musicians on his records in the 70s and 80s.

John Mayall developed his appreciation of jazz and blues as a child. His father was a guitarist and an avid collector of jazz and blues 78s. Inspired by what he heard, Mayall taught himself to play piano, guitar and harmonica.After serving in the military in Korea, Mayall returned to the UK and completed an art degree. Soon he was convinced to give up his day job in favor of becoming a full time musician in London. In 1964 he received a spot opening for John Lee Hooker in London and a record deal soon followed.

Mayall continued touring well into his 80s, but has now retired from live performances. He continues to record new music and his long career has been captured in a mammoth 35 disc box set released this year.