Clizbeats Artist of the month is John Mayer
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 Atlanta, 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 “3×5” 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.
January 2005, left to right: David Ryan Harris, John Mayer and Steve Jobs at Macworld 11, SF Moscone Center.
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.
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 album consists of 11 tracks running 45 minutes long. The first single from the album, called “Who Says”, was released on September 24.