When the updated Billboard 200 album chart was released this week, John Mayer's Battle Studies was in the top spot. Whether or not you think he's a gifted dreamboat or an insufferable d-bag, there's no doubt the guy is big. And as his tabloid-and-Twitterable knack for staying in the public eye in-between album releases shows, he's shrewd too.
He's been that way for a while. Since things are slowing down as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I'd take advantage of the news lull to share a John Mayer story with you. It comes courtesy of my friend Misha.
Misha spent a summer in the late '90s studying drumming at Boston's Berklee College of Music--one of the country's most prestigious music schools. Mayer was a student there at the time
, and helped out teaching guitar in the summer programs. Even then, the future star had a reputation as a six-string badass. He would wow Misha and the other students with his awesome displays of Stevie Ray Vaughan-styled blues playing and soulful Hendrixian fireworks.
But back in the dorms after class, something strange would happen. When the other students jammed with each other, doing their best to hotdog it, Mayer put his chops away. Instead of continuing with the guitar heroics, he'd play folky, soft-rock songs (think "Your Body Is a Wonderland" and "No Such Thing") like the ones that ended up on his quadruple-platinum 2001 debut, Room For Squares. He took a lot of crap for this. Misha and the other students wanted to know why he was wasting his time playing sissy stuff (they used stronger words than that) instead of wailing.
Mayer said that the very songs the musos-in-training were making fun of would make him famous one day.
And they did.
Of course, whether or not his music is what has kept Mayer famous is a different question--and one I bet many of his former Berklee antagonists wished was being asked about them.
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