Early John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac Producer Mike Vernon Readies New Album
The producer of the ‘Beano Album’ and the first Fleetwood Mac LPs steps into the spotlight.
Mike Vernon, the vastly experienced British blues producer and executive who worked with John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac and countless others, will release the new album Beyond The Blue Horizon, his first with his own band the Mighty Combo, on 7 September on Manhaton Records.
The album takes its name from the fact that Vernon was the co-founder, with Neil Slaven, of the hugely important British blues label Blue Horizon. He produced Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton, the seminal 1965 album by John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers that also became known as the ‘Beano Album.’
Vernon also supervised early David Bowie recording sessions, further Mayall albums such as A Hard Road and Crusade and was the original producer of Fleetwood Mac
, overseeing their self-titled 1968 debut LP and the same year’s Mr. Wonderful. His remarkably varied resumé includes work with such blues-rock notables as Mick Taylor, Ten Years After, Savoy Brown and the Climax Blues Band, but also with pop-soul chart acts including Level 42 and Roachford.
Vernon has played the role of artist before, singing with the late 1970s disco-soul outfit the Olympic Runners and rock ‘n’ roll revivalists Rocky Sharpe and the Replays. But Beyond The Blue Horizon represents a new step in his career at the age of 73.
“To be fronting my own R&B outfit has always been a dream but the right moment to make that transition never appeared until now,” says Vernon. Setting the scene for the album’s inspiration, he goes on: “The year is 1956 and Little Richard and his totally outrageous song ‘Tutti Frutti’ hit the No. 1 spot on the US pop charts.
“Fats Domino had similar success with ‘When My Dreamboat Comes Home’ and ‘Blueberry Hill’ that same year whilst Chuck Berry introduced us to his unique rocking rhythm and blues style with ‘Roll Over Beethoven.’ Four slabs of musical genius that were to totally change my life.
“Fast forward 61 [sic] years to 2018 and the ‘with my own band’ debut album Beyond The Blue Horizon features tough, energising and tuneful rocking slabs of R&B in the vein of Fats Domino, Wynonie Harris, Little Richard and Louis Jordan,” Vernon goes on. “Twelve titles in all including nine new self-penned originals and three covers from the catalogues of Brook Benton, Mose Allison and Clarence Henry.”
Vernon and the Mighty Combo will tour extensively around the album, with UK dates booked all the way through the summer and into October, followed by festivals in France and Spain.