John Mayer was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1977 and brought up in nearby Fairfield. He went to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston where he could practice and significantly improve his musical skills, although he disenrolled after just two semesters and moved to Atlanta with Clay Cook to give a boost to his musical career. In March 2000 Mayer delivered an outstanding performance at Austin’s SXSW music festival which gave him the possibility to sign a contract first with Aware Records and then with Columbia, which released his previously recorded internet-only debut album, Room For Squares. This album has been a major commercial and critical success and earned Mayer his first Grammy Award in 2003 for the track “Your Body Is a Wonderland”. The album contains other noteworthy singles like “No Such Thing” and “Why Georgia”.
Other seven Grammies will follow up, earned from nineteen nominations, certifying that John Mayer can definitely be listed among guitar legends like Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, and Robert Cray and perform at the Crossroads Festival as they all do. If you ignore the gossip about his romances with heartbroken starlets like Jessica Simpson or Jennifer Aniston, Mayer, at his core, is really a sensational guitar player and one that has long favoured Fender’s groundbreaking Stratocaster.
Mayer’s career took off so swiftly that Fender created a custom guitar named after him while he was still just in his mid-twenties. In 2005 the company issued a John Mayer Stratocaster in three tones (sunburst, black and Olympic white) and a heavy-relic black rendition from the Custom Shop. After these two signature Stratocasters, Fender made a third one, finished in charcoal frost metallic paint with a racing stripe, which was also a limited-release as only 100 guitars were made. At the beginning of his career, Mayer used a Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster that he purchased with money earned while working at a gas station. He now has an extensive collection including more than 200 guitars, among which there are his signature models and contemporary Strats alongside with other newer gems such as a Custom Shop rosewood Stratocaster.
John Mayer's style shows classic blues tendencies and a versatility influenced by his contemporary pop sensibilities. At other times, however, he can be far more daring and dashing. Just listen to some of his songs recorded in collaboration with artists from different backgrounds, from jazzer Herbie Hancock to hip hop artist Kanye West. Or pay attention to his use of an AdrenaLinn sequencer pedal to create the stirring arpeggiated guitar part in “Bigger than My Body”. John Mayer certainly stood out as one of the "New Guitar Gods" among his peers, as stated on the Rolling Stone (#1020) cover of February 2007 which featured himself besides John Frusciante and Derek Trucks. In that cover he was also nicknamed Slowhand Jr., a reference to Eric Clapton. In a nutshell, John Mayer has definitely contributed to bringing the Stratocaster guitars back into the Top Forty hits nearly sixty years after its first appearance on the music scene.
Next player: Dave Murray