Five-time Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter/guitarist John Mayer experienced overnight success with his first major studio release, “Room For Squares” (2001), which won a Grammy Award for the hit single “Your Body is a Wonderland.” Celebrated for guitar oriented pop and soulful lyrics, he gained further recognition with his second album “Heavier Things” (2003), which spawned the Grammy winning song “Daughters.” The song also brought Mayer a Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Grammy, beating out fellow rivals Elvis Costello, Prince, and Seal. Both albums achieved multi-platinum certification. In 2007, he took home two Grammy Awards for his 2006 album “Continuum” and the popular song “Waiting on the World to Change.” Mayer also has released two concert albums, “Any Given Thursday” (2003) and “The Village Sessions” (2006), and an independent album, “Inside Wants Out” (1999). First performing primarily acoustic rock, the accomplished guitarist gradually made a change to the blues genre in 2005 and formed the John Mayer Trio. The group earned a Grammy nomination in 2007 for the album “Try” (2005).
One of Time magazine's “100 Most Influential People of 2007,” Mayer has a number of tattoos, including “Home” and “Life” on the back of his left and right arm respectively, “77” on the left side of his chest, “SRV” (for his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan) and a dragon-like figure on his left inner arm. He is also a passionate collector of watches and has an extensive collection of sneakers. In 2002, Mayer founded the Back To You Fund, a non-profit organization that concentrates on fund-raising in the areas of health care, the arts, education, and talent. He also has actively participated in reversing global warming. As for his love life, Mayer was romantically involved with actress Jennifer Love Hewitt briefly in 2002. Beginning in the summer of 2006, he dated pop singer Jessica Simpson, but the bond lasted only nine months and they separated in May 2007. Currently, Mayer lives in a suburb of Los Angeles with his roommate and sound engineer Chad Franscoviak. He also has an apartment in New York City.
Childhood and Family:
John Clayton Mayer was born on October 16, 1977, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Richard and Margaret Mayer. He grew up in nearby Fairfield, where he became friends with future tennis star James Blake. He has two brothers, Carl (older) and Ben (younger). John was primarily educated at the former Fairfield High School, though he attended the Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, Connecticut, his junior year. Then familiar as the Center for Japanese Studies Abroad, it is a program for students wanting to learn Japanese. A pop music listener as a child, John played flute in elementary school and the clarinet in middle school before picking up his first guitar at age 13. He became interested in the instrument after watching the Marty McFly character’s (played by Michael J. Fox) guitar performance in the movie “Back to The Future.” About the same time, he discovered the blues when he began listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan. When John was 19, he earned a place at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts, but soon left to pursue a professional career in music in Atlanta, Georgia.
Waiting on the World to Change
John Mayer began performing at blues bars and other venues while in high school. Aside from performing alone, he was in a band called Villanova Junction, with Joe Beleznay, Rich Wolf and Tim Procaccini, where he served as lead guitarist. Upon high school graduation, Mayer performed in blues hotspots until 1998 when he decided to head south to Atlanta, Georgia, to find more work. With his college friend and Atlanta native Clay Cook, he formed a two-man band called LoFi Masters and soon became a regular at local coffee houses and club circuit in venues like Eddie's Attic. Because of musical differences (Mayer wanted to bring the duo in more of a pop direction), they eventually split up and Mayer launched a solo career.
In September 1999, Mayer, with the help of local producer and engineer Glenn Matullo, independently released “Inside Wants Out,” an EP comprising mainly of solo acoustic renditions of his brisk, solemn songs and several tracks recorded with a full band. Cook is also credited as the co-writer of numerous songs from the album, including Mayer's commercial single release debut titled “No Such Thing.” Shortly after the release of “Inside Wants Out,” Mayer and David “DeLa” LaBruyere, the co-producer of the album who also played the bass of the opening track “Back To You,” hit the streets throughout Georgia and the surrounding states.
Mayer's status steadily grew and an appearance at the noted South by Southwest Music Festival in March 2000 put him under the radar of “launch” label Aware Records. Following touring in the Aware Festival concerts and having his songs included in Aware compilations, Aware released Mayer's internet-only album called “Room for Squares” in early 2001. When the label penned a contract with Columbia Records, “Room for Squares” was remixed and re-released as part of the major label debut in September that same year. The track “3X5” was added to the re-release, in addition to reworked studio versions of the first four songs from Mayer's “Inside Wants Out.”
“Room for Squares” was a huge commercial hit and gained multi-platinum status thanks to such radio hits as “No Such Thing,” “Your Body Is a Wonderland” and ultimately “Why Georgia” (a radio-only single). The song “Your Body Is a Wonderland” brought Mayer a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
On February 11, 2003, Mayer launched “Any Given Thursday,” a live CD and DVD of his concert in Birmingham, Alabama, which featured songs formerly not recorded like “Man on the Side” (co-penned with Cook) and “Something's Missing,” which later appeared on “Heavier Things,” and the track “Covered In Rain.” The album quickly reached No. 17 on the Billboard 200 chart. Seven months later, Mayer resurfaced with his second studio album, “Heavier Things,” which was released to mostly good reviews. Although it did not receive the same large commercial success as its predecessor, the album peaked at No. 1 at the US Billboard 200 chart and offered Mayer his first No. 1 hit single with the song “Daughters” (2004), from which he was handed two Grammys in 2005 in the categories of Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Mayer followed the album up with his next concert album, “As/Is,” which was released by iTunes on October 19, 2004. A few months later, a “best of” CD was compiled. Among the tracts included in the album was a previously unreleased cover of Marvin Gaye's song “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler),” featuring DJ Logic.
Thanks to his exposure, Mayer began to branch out. He was invited by Steve Jobs to perform during the keynote address of Apple’s annual Macworld Conference & Expo in early 2004, a gig that later led to Mayer becoming a regular of the event. The same year, he also had a one-shot, half-hour comedy special on VH1, “John Mayer Has a TV Show.” He also made some endorsements, including a Volkswagen commercial for the Beetle's guitar outlet and one for the BlackBerry Curve.
Mayer also found himself in extensive collaborations with artists out of his own genre. He teamed up with hip hop personalities like Kanye West in the song “Bittersweet Poetry” and Common on “Go!” As a result of these partnerships, Mayer earned kudos from rap giants like Nelly and Jay-Z. When questioned about his presence in the hip hop community, Mayer said, “It's not music out there right now. That's why, to me, hip-hop is where rock used to be.”
It was during that same time that Mayer started hinting of a switch in his musical path. 2005 saw a series of affiliations with respective blues artists such as Buddy Guy, B.B. King and Eric Clapton and the jazz artist John Scofield. In addition, he joined legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock for numerous live performances that included a show at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
In the spring of 2005, Mayer founded The John Mayer Trio with drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Pino Palladino. They played a combination of rock and blues music. Later, in October, The Trio served as the opening act of The Rolling Stones' successful club tour. A month later, they launched a live album called “Try” before taking a hiatus in mid-2006. Mayer announced in September 2006 that the group would begin work on their future studio album.
In September 2006, Mayer released his latest studio album, “Continuum,” which was produced by Mayer and Steve Jordan. For this record, he intended to blend his signature pop music with the spirit, sound, groove and sensibilities of the blues. To achieve the goal, the funky “Vultures” and the blues centerpiece “Gravity,” both of which are from his release “Try,” were included on the album. The first single, “Waiting on the World to Change,” released on July 11, 2006, debuted on “The Ron and Fez Show” and went on to become one of the three most downloaded songs of the week at the iTunes Music Store. It also peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. For his brilliant work on the album, on December 7, 2006, Mayer received five 2007 Grammy nominations and eventually won two for Best Pop Song with Vocals for “Waiting on the World to Change” and Best Pop Album for “Continuum.” John Mayer Trio was also nominated for a 2007 Grammy for their album “Try!” “The Village Sessions,” an EP consisting of five demo acoustic versions of his songs with veteran musician Robbie McIntosh, was released on December 12, 2006.
After the release of “Continuum,” Mayer toured Europe with his band in support of the album. He also performed is United Arab Emirates, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. His first North American tour was wrapped up on February 28, 2007, with a performance at Madison Square Garden, which was described as “career-defining” by the New York Post. Mayer's present 2007 touring band comprises of David Ryan Harris (guitar and backup vocals), Robbie McIntosh (guitar), David LaBruyere (bass), J.J. Johnson (drums), Bob Reynolds (saxophone and flute), Brad Mason (trumpet and flugelhorn) and Tim Bradshaw (keyboard, organ, and vocals).
Grammy: Best Pop Vocal Album, “Continuum,” 2007
Grammy: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, “Waiting on the World to Change,” 2007
Hal David Starlight Award: 2006
Grammy: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, “Daughters,” 2005
Grammy: Song of the Year, “Daughters,” 2005
Grammy: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” 2002