Happy Birthday John Mayall: Eric Clapton Reunion In 2003


John Mayall has had a remarkable career. Today, the legendary British blues musician turns 86. As leader of the seminal band John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers, Mayall saw some of the best blues and rock talent join his outfit in the 1960s and beyond. These included Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie, Cream bassist Jack Bruce, The Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor and Eric Clapton.

All of these famed artists played in The Bluesbreakers before they went on to form or join the famous groups they played for later. As such, playing with the Bluesbreakers was integral in launching their legendary careers, most notably Clapton.

While Clapton had seen success as the guitarist in the Yardbirds, he quit the band in 1965 just as they had their first hit with “For Your Love,” a song that heralded a pop direction that the bluesman Clapton could not stomach. Shortly after he quit the Yardbirds, Clapton joined The Bluesbreakers.

Although he would also tour with other bands, it was during his time with the Bluesbreakers that his notoriety as a shredder began to grow, culminating with the 1966 album Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton. Clapton left the band that same year to form Cream with Jack Bruce — whom he met in The Bluesbreakers — and drummer Ginger Baker.

In the subsequent decades, John Mayall continued to lead great blues bands making amazing music and Clapton became the guitar god the world knows him as today. But for some reason, they never shared a stage in all those years. Until this date in 2003, when Mayall put on a concert benefiting UNICEF and also celebrating his 70th birthday.

The show took place at Kings Dock Arena in Liverpool where Mayall welcomed Mick Taylor and Eric Clapton among others. While Taylor had reunited with Mayall in the 1980s, the UNICEF concert marked the first time Clapton and Mayall had teamed up in 38 years.

After a Bluesbreakers section, Mayall and Clapton would play as a duo on Mayall’s “No Big Hurry” before welcoming jazz trombonist Chris Barber on “Please Mr. Lofton.” The entire band would then back Clapton as he led them on Freddy King’s “Hideaway.” Clapton and the Bluesbreakers would also play blues classics including Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Koochie Man” and Freddy King’s “Tore Down.” Then, Clapton, Taylor, Mayall and the Bluesbreakers all jammed together on the evening’s encore, J.B. Lenoir’s “Talk To Your Daughter.” Check out that performance below:

Setlist via Where’s Eric:

Set: Grits Ain’t Groceries, Jacksboro Highway, Southside Story, Kids Got The Blues, Dirty Water, Somebody’s Acting Like A Child^, Blues For The Lost Days^, Walking On Sunset^, Oh Pretty Woman^, No Big Hurry*, Please Mr. Lofton*, Hideaway*, All Your Love*, Have You Heard*, Hoochie Koochie Man*, Tore Down*, It Ain’t Right, California^

Encore: Talk To Your Daughter*^


* w/ Eric Clapton

^ w/ Mick Taylor

Tour Dates for John Mayall