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John Mayall's Bluesbreakers


Paul Williams Set
  I can't quite remember when I met Zoot Money and the band. They had come down from Bournemouth to London to make their mark on the music scene. Zoot asked me if I wanted to join his band; he was doing the same material more or less that I did with the Wes Minster Five. At that time he had Andy Summers on guitar, Nick Newall on tenor sax and Colin Allen on drums. He said he needed a singer who could also play bass. I said I didn't know anybody. He said 'What about you?'. I said 'I don't play bass'. He said 'You could learn, rehearsals start in two weeks'. And that's how the Big Roll Band was born. Also added to the lineup was Clive Burrows on baritone sax, and later on Jeff Condon on trumpet. We did the rounds of the London clubs with a residency at the famous Flamingo Club and various other venues. We were working at a tremendous rate; our record, I believe, was thirteen gigs in eight days including afternoons, all-nighters and evenings. At that time we went to Germany for a month doing a killer 8pm to 3am three-quarters of an hour on stage and fifteen minutes off for five nights. Saturday and Sunday 3pm to 6pm, and 8pm to 3am again. We were a bit exhausted to say the least! Half the band wanted to go home; the promoter offered more money because playing american soul music, we had all the american service people coming in to hear us. It certainly made the band tight - musically that is! As time went on, we had the privilege of backing and playing on the same bill as the likes of John Lee Hooker, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Cream, Jimi Hendrix to name a few. It was a huge learning curve.

After the break up of the Zoot Money Big Roll Band I thought what a waste - we were just about to break into the major league. But I didn't have time to think about it for long, as I got a phone call from John Mayall. He said he would like me to join his band. At that time I was replacing John McVie who was about to go on to big things with Fleetwood Mac. Although I wasn't with John for very long, it was very enjoyable. I made friends with the band - Mick Taylor, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Keef Hartley and John, most of whom I keep in contact with to this day. Sadly Dick passed away last year. I did record some songs with John Mayall, but by this time I was anxious to develop my singing prowess as I had really been second string in both Zoot and John's bands vocally.

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