John Clayton Mayer (pronounced /ˈmeɪ.ər/ MAY-ər; born October 16, 1977) is an American musician. Originally from Connecticut, he attended Berklee College of Music before moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 1997, where he refined his skills and gained a following. His first two studio albums, Room for Squares and Heavier Things, did well commercially, achieving multi-platinum status. In 2003, he won a Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Grammy Award for "Your Body Is a Wonderland".
Mayer began his career performing mainly acoustic rock, but gradually began a transition towards the blues genre in 2005 by collaborating with renowned blues artists such as B. B. King, Buddy Guy, and Eric Clapton, and by forming the John Mayer Trio. The blues influence can be heard on his album Continuum, released in September 2006. At the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in 2007 Mayer won Best Pop Vocal Album for Continuum and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Waiting on the World to Change". Mayer's career pursuits have extended to stand-up comedy, design, and writing; he has written pieces for magazines, most notably for Esquire. He is also involved in philanthropic activities through his "Back to You" fund and his concern over global warming.
John Mayer was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut to Margaret, an English teacher, and Richard, a high school principal. He grew up in nearby Fairfield, the second of three children. There, he became friends with future tennis star James Blake. Mayer attended the former Fairfield High School, although he was enrolled in the Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk for his junior year. (Then known as the Center for Japanese Studies Abroad, it is a magnet program for students wanting to learn Japanese..) During an appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, he said that he had played the clarinet for a while in middle school, with minor success. After watching Michael J. Fox's guitar performance as Marty McFly in Back to the Future, he became fascinated with the instrument. Subsequently, when Mayer was 13, his father rented one for him.
Soon after Mayer got his guitar, a neighbor gave him a Stevie Ray Vaughan cassette, which began Mayer’s intense love of the blues.a[›] Despite the reservations of his parents, Mayer became consumed with playing the guitar, and after two years of practice, he started playing at blues bars and other venues in the area, while in high school. In addition to performing alone, he was in a band called Villanova Junction with Tim Procaccini, Joe Beleznay, and Rich Wolf.
When Mayer was seventeen, he was stricken with a cardiac arrhythmia that sent him to the hospital for a weekend. Reflecting on the incident, Mayer said, “That was the moment the songwriter in me was born,” and he penned his first lyrics the night he got home. Shortly thereafter, he began suffering from crippling panic attacks, and even now he keeps Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, with him. After graduation, he worked for fifteen months at a gas station until he saved up enough money to buy his first proper guitar—a 1996 Stevie Ray Vaughan signature Stratocaster.
John Mayer enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, at the age of nineteen. After two semesters, he chose to cut his studies short, and at the urging of his college friend and Atlanta native, Clay Cook, the two moved to Altlanta, Georgia. Quickly making a name for their two-man band, LoFi Masters, they began their career in earnest there, frequenting the local coffee house and club circuit in venues like Eddie's Attic. Cook has said, however, that they began to experience musical differences due to Mayer’s desire to take the duo in more of a pop direction. The two parted ways, and Mayer embarked on a solo career.
With the help of local producer and engineer Glenn Matullo, Mayer recorded the independent EP Inside Wants Out. Cook is also cited as the co-writer of many of the songs from the EP, most notably, Mayer's first commercial single release, "No Such Thing". The EP includes only eight songs, all with Mayer on lead vocals and guitars, with the exception of “Comfortable” in which Mayer only recorded the vocals. For the opening track, “Back To You”, a full band was enlisted, including the EP’s co-producer David "DeLa" LaBruyere on bass guitars. Mayer and LaBruyere then began to tour throughout Georgia and the surrounding states.
Major label success
Mayer’s reputation began to build, and a March 2000 appearance at South by Southwest brought him to the attention of "launch" label, Aware Records. After including him in the Aware Festival concerts and having his songs included on Aware compilations, in early 2001, Aware released Mayer’s internet-only album entitled, Room for Squares. During that time, Aware inked a deal with Columbia Records that gave Columbia first pick in signing Aware artists, and so in September of the same year, Columbia remixed and re-released Room for Squares. As part of the major label "debut", the album's artwork was updated, and the track "3x5" was added. The re-release also included reworked studio versions of the first four songs from his indie album, Inside Wants Out.
By the end of 2002, Room for Squares had spawned several radio hits, including "No Such Thing," "Your Body Is a Wonderland," and ultimately, "Why Georgia." In 2003, Mayer won a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Your Body Is a Wonderland." In his acceptance speech he remarked, "This is very, very fast, and I promise to catch up." He also figuratively referred to himself as being sixteen, a remark that many mistook to mean that he was only sixteen years old at the time.
In 2003, Mayer released a live CD and DVD of a concert in Birmingham, Alabama entitled, Any Given Thursday. The concert featured songs previously not recorded, such as "Man on the Side" (co-written with Cook) and "Something's Missing", which later appeared on Heavier Things. The concert also included "Covered In Rain". According to the accompanying DVD documentary, this song is "part two" of the song "City Love", which features the line "covered in rain". Commercially, the album quickly peaked at number seventeen on the Billboard 200 chart. The CD/DVD received conservative, although consistent, praise, with critics torn between his pop-idol image, and (at the time) emerging guitar prowess. Erik Crawford (of Allmusic) asked "Is he the consummate guitar hero exemplified when he plays a cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'Lenny', or is he the teen idol that the pubescent girls shriek for after he plays 'Your Body Is a Wonderland?'"
Heavier Things, Mayer's second album, was released in 2003 to generally favorable reviews. Rolling Stone, Allmusic and Blender all gave positive, although reserved, feedback. PopMatters said that it "doesn't have as many drawbacks as one might assume". The album was commercially successful, and while it did not sell as well as Room for Squares, it peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. Mayer earned his first number one single with the song "Daughters" as well as a 2005 Grammy for Song of the Year, beating out fellow contenders Alicia Keys and Kanye West. He dedicated the award to his grandmother, Annie Hoffman, who died in May 2004. He also won Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, beating Elvis Costello, Prince, and Seal for the award. In his February 9 2009 interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Mayer said that he thought he shouldn't have won the Grammy for Song of the year because he thought that Alicia Keys' If I Ain't Got You was the better song. Because of this, he removed the top half of the Grammy and gave it to Keys, and kept the bottom part for himself. At the 37th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2006, Mayer was honored with the Hal David Starlight Award.
Mayer again recorded live concerts across seven nights of his U.S. tour in 2004. These recordings were released to the iTunes music store under the title as/is, indicating that the errors were included along with the good moments. A few months later, a "best of" CD was compiled from the as/is nights. The album included a previously unreleased cover of Marvin Gaye's song "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)", featuring a solo from Mayer's support act—jazz and blues turntablist, DJ Logic. All the album covers of the as/is releases feature drawings of anthropomorphic bunnies.
With increased exposure, Mayer's talent came into demand in other areas. Steve Jobs invited Mayer to perform during the keynote address of Apple's annual Macworld Conference & Expo, in January 2004, as Jobs introduced the software application GarageBand. The gig led to Mayer becoming a fixture of the event. He rejoined Jobs on stage for a solo performance at Macworld 2007, following the announcement of the iPhone. Mayer has also done endorsements, such as a Volkswagen commercial for the Beetle's guitar outlet and for the BlackBerry Curve.
Change in musical direction
Mayer began to collaborate extensively, often working with artists outside of his own genre. He appeared on Common's song "Go!" and on Kanye West's "Bittersweet Poetry".b[›] Following these collaborations, Mayer received praise from rap heavyweights Jay-Z and Nelly. When asked 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 around this time that Mayer began hinting a change in his musical interests, announcing that he was "closing up shop on acoustic sensitivity." In 2005, he began a string of collaborations with various blues artists, including Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, as well as jazz artist John Scofield. He also went on tour with legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, which included a show at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. These collaborations led to recordings with several of these artists, namely, Clapton (Back Home, Crossroads Guitar Festival), Guy (Bring 'Em In), Scofield (That's What I Say), and King (80). Although Mayer has maintained a reputation for being a sensitive singer-songwriter, he has also gained distinction as an accomplished guitarist, influenced by the likes of the above artists, as well as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, and Freddie King.
John Mayer Trio
In the spring of 2005, Mayer formed the John Mayer Trio with bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Jordan, both of whom he had met through previous studio sessions. The trio played a combination of blues and rock music. In October 2005, the Trio opened for The Rolling Stones during a sold-out club tour of their own, and that November, released a live album called Try! The band took a break in mid-2006. In September 2006, Mayer announced plans for the Trio to begin work on a future studio album.
Mayer's latest album, entitled Continuum, was released on September 12, 2006, and was produced by Mayer himself and Steve Jordan. Mayer suggested the album was intended to combine his signature pop music with the feel, sound, groove, and sensibilities of the blues. In that vein, two of the tracks from his trio release Try!—the funky "Vultures" and the blues centerpiece "Gravity"—also were included on Continuum. Mayer has said that "Gravity" is the most important song he's ever written.
The first single from Continuum was "Waiting on the World to Change," which debuted on The Ron and Fez Show. The song was the third most downloaded song of the week on the iTunes Music Store following its release on July 11, 2006, and debuted at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. On August 23, 2006, Mayer debuted the entire album on the Los Angeles radio station Star 98.7, giving commentary on each track. A subsequent version was released the next day on the Clear Channel Music website as a streaming sneak preview. On September 21, 2006, Mayer appeared on CSI, playing "Waiting on the World to Change" and "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room." The song "Gravity" was featured on the television series House in the episode "Cane & Able" and Numb3rs. He recorded a session for the British program Live From Abbey Road at Abbey Road Studios on October 22, 2006.
On December 7, 2006, Mayer was nominated for five 2007 Grammys, including "Album of the Year." The John Mayer Trio also received a nomination for their album, Try!. He won two: Best Pop Song with Vocal for "Waiting on the World to Change" and Best Pop Album for Continuum. Mayer remixed an acoustic version of his single "Waiting on the World to Change" with vocal additions from fellow musician Ben Harper. In preparation for recording Continuum, Mayer had booked the Village Recorder in Los Angeles to record five demo acoustic versions of his songs with veteran musician Robbie McIntosh. These recordings became The Village Sessions, an EP released on December 12, 2006. As usual, Mayer oversaw the artwork of the release.
Mayer was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone (#1020) in February 2007, along with John Frusciante and Derek Trucks. He was named as one of the "New Guitar Gods," and the cover nicknamed him "Slowhand, Jr.," a reference to Eric Clapton. Additionally, he was selected by the editors of Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2007 and was listed among artists and entertainers.
On November 20, 2007, the re-issue of Continuum became available online and in stores. The release contains a bonus disc of six live songs from his 2007 tour: five from Continuum and a cover of the Ray Charles song "I Don't Need No Doctor." His new single, "Say," also became available through iTunes. On December 6, 2007, "Belief" was nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal for the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. He accompanied Alicia Keys on guitar on her song "No One" at the ceremony.
In February 2008, Mayer hosted a three-day Caribbean cruise event that included performances with various musicians including David Ryan Harris, Brett Dennen, and Colbie Caillat, among others. The event was called "The Mayercraft Carrier" and was held aboard the cruise ship known as the Carnival Victory. A follow up cruise titled "Mayercraft Carrier 2" set sail from Long Beach, California on March 27-31, 2009 on the Carnival Splendor.
On July 1, 2008, Mayer released Where the Light Is a live concert film of Mayer's performance at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on December 8, 2007. The film was directed by Danny Clinch. It features an acoustic set and a set with the John Mayer Trio, followed by a set with John's band from the Continuum album. The DVD and Bluray bonus material includes footage of Mayer backstage and playing outside on Mulholland Drive.
CBS confirmed on January 14, 2009 that Mayer is in negotiations with the station for a variety show. The details of the deal and the nature of the show are yet unknown.
Mayer has recently collaborated with Australian soul artist Guy Sebastian on three songs on his upcoming album "Like it Like That". He also played guitar on the title track of Crosby Loggins's debut LP, Time to Move, released on July 10, 2009.
On 7 July 2009, Mayer performed an instrumental guitar version of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" at Jackson's memorial service.
On August 24, 2009, Mayer posted on his official Twitter profile that his fourth studio album, Battle Studies, will be released November 17. The first single from the album, called "Who Says", was released on September 24.
Mayer has a number of tattoos. These include: "Home" and "Life" (from the song title) on the back of his left and right arms respectively, "77" (his year of birth) on the left side of his chest, and a koi-like fish on his right shoulder. His entire left arm is covered in a sleeve tattoo that he acquired gradually, ending in April 2008; it includes: "SRV" (for his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan) on his shoulder, a decorated rectangle on his biceps, a dragon-like figure on his inner arm, and various other floral designs. In 2003, he got a tattoo of three squares on his right forearm, which, he has explained, he will fill in gradually. As of 2009, two are filled.
He is an avid collector of watches and owns timepieces worth tens of thousands of dollars. Mayer also has an extensive collection of sneakers, estimated (in 2006[update]) at more than 200 pairs.
Mayer dated Jennifer Love Hewitt briefly in 2002. In a comedy routine in May 2006, he joked that they never consummated their relationship; he later apologized to her for the raunchy routine. Despite rumors to the contrary, Mayer did not date Heidi Klum in 2003. Mayer dated Jessica Simpson for about nine months, beginning in the middle of 2006. Rumors started in August of that year with a People magazine article, but kicked into high gear when Mayer and Simpson spent New Year's holiday together in New York City, both attending Christina Aguilera's New Year's Eve party. When Ryan Seacrest asked Mayer on the red carpet of the 2007 Grammy Awards, about his relationship with Simpson, Mayer responded in Japanese. Despite some initially conflicting translations, he said, "Jessica is a lovely woman, and I'm glad to be with her."d[›] Simpson also accompanied Mayer for several dates of his 2007 Continuum tour, and the two went on a trip to Rome in March of that year. However, the couple split in May 2007. He began dating actress Minka Kelly in September 2007, although the two broke up before the year's end. Mayer began dating actress Jennifer Aniston in April 2008, but Mayer broke it off the following August. They resumed dating in October 2008. Mayer joined Aniston at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009, where she was a presenter. "It's my first Oscars," the singer told blog PopSugar during an NYC interview. "And it's my first being an Oscar boyfriend." The couple split for good three weeks later, in March 2009.
Mayer's parents divorced on May 27, 2009; the divorce was uncontested.
Mayer splits his time between his home in the Los Angeles suburbs (with his roommate and sound engineer, Chad Franscoviak) and his apartment in the New York City neighborhood of SoHo.