With a flying V guitar slung around his shoulder, John Mayer was ready to play from the moment he started his speech about Albert King at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. He was wearing a flying V guitar, which King always played, slung around his body.
“I first heard of Albert King in a guitar magazine from a Stevie Ray Vaughan interview,” Mayer said.
When most of his friends were quoting Grateful Dead lyrics, he said he was listening to Albert King.Even noting that he quoted King in his high school year book: “The blues don’t change.”
“My dream of playing the blues for a living came true – sort of – but the blues is alive in all of my songs and in my playing,” he said. Mayer played his flying V, King’s guitar of choice, to demonstrate his point. Playing into “Call It Stormy Monday,” Mayer mimicked different blues guitarists playing that song before finally playing it in King’s style. “Albert’s style is the reason guitar faces were invented,” he said.
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Mayer spoke about King’s signature album, Born Under A Bad Sign. ”It’s the perfect blues album,” he said. “It’s got burning guitar playing. It’s a magical album and it’s cooler than a flying V being played while wearing a three-piece suit.”
King’s grandaughter thanked, among others, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and said that he and her grandfather are “jamming in heaven, making the angels dance.”
Here on earth, people were dancing to Gary Clark Jr.‘s version of King’s “Pretty Woman.” Mayer then joined Clark onstage, as did Booker T. Jones of Booker T & The MGs, who wrote and played on King’s original version of the track. Jones, seated behind his keyboard, split lead vocals with Clark, who also traded guitar leads with Mayer.
King’s influence clearly lives on in both Mayer and Clark’s playing. And, of course, in their guitar faces.
Catch more from the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony when it airs Saturday May 18 at 9 pm ET/PT on HBO.
Watch our recent Radio.com Inside Out episode on 2013’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction class, below.