MIKE VERNON (Record Producer, Sound Engineer- Mini-Biography AND CAREER


Mike Vernon was instrumental in shaping the British blues-rock explosion. Working with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, he launched Eric Clapton's career with the legendary "Beano Album." His production of Fleetwood Mac's early albums captured Peter Green's soulful blues. With Ten Years After, Vernon showcased Alvin Lee's blazing guitar work. Vernon's authentic production style and his Blue Horizon label left an enduring mark on blues-rock, solidifying his reputation as a visionary of the genre.


Mike Vernon, an indispensable figure in the rise of the British Blues explosion of the 1960s, stands tall as a record producer, sound engineer, and music executive with an ear for the extraordinary. His work at Decca Records and the founding of his iconic Blue Horizon label transformed the musical landscape, unearthing a treasure trove of blues talent that would leave an indelible mark on music history.

Early Days and the Bluesbreakers Breakthrough

Vernon's passion for the blues took root in his teenage years. His tenure at Decca Records began in 1963, where a pivotal moment arrived with his production of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers' legendary album, "Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton." This release, featuring Clapton's searing guitar work, ignited the British blues scene, propelling Clapton to international stardom and solidifying Vernon's reputation as a blues visionary.

The Blue Horizon Era

In 1967, Vernon unleashed Blue Horizon, a label dedicated solely to blues music. Here, he nurtured some of the era's most pivotal acts, including Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, and Ten Years After. The label's reputation for quality recordings and an artist-centric ethos resonated deeply with blues musicians. Vernon's production style, often favoring a raw, live-in-the-studio feel, captured the authentic spirit and energy of the blues, making the Blue Horizon catalog essential listening.

One of Vernon's most celebrated productions, Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross," reached number one in the UK charts in 1968. This instrumental masterpiece showcases Peter Green's soulful guitar melodies and the band's signature blues-rock sensibilities.

Beyond the Blues

Although synonymous with the blues, Vernon's influence extended beyond the genre. He produced David Bowie's debut album in 1967 and worked with a diverse range of artists, including Duster Bennett, Savoy Brown, and even Focus, a Dutch progressive rock band.

Vernon's contributions didn't go unnoticed. Over the years, he has received various industry accolades including induction into the Blues Hall of Fame.

Shaping the Sound of British Blues-Rock

Mike Vernon's imprint on the British blues-rock scene of the 1960s is profound. As a producer, engineer, and label head, his work with titans like Fleetwood Mac, Ten Years After, and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers helped define the genre's sound and propel some of its most legendary figures into the spotlight.

John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers: Launching a Legend

Vernon's journey with John Mayall began at Decca Records, where he engineered and produced the legendary 1966 album, "Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton." Often referred to as the "Beano Album" due to its iconic cover, it cemented Clapton's status as a guitar virtuoso. This seminal recording captured the fiery intensity of live blues performances while showcasing Clapton's blistering leads and Mayall's passionate vocals. Vernon's work on subsequent Mayall albums like "A Hard Road" and "Crusade" (featuring Mick Taylor) further amplified the Bluesbreakers' powerful sound.

Fleetwood Mac: From Blues to Global Stardom

Mike Vernon's most enduring collaboration was perhaps with Fleetwood Mac. In 1967, he became the band's guiding force, producing their landmark debut album, "Fleetwood Mac," and its follow-up "Mr. Wonderful." These recordings exemplify Vernon's affinity for raw, authentic blues-rock. Peter Green's soulful guitar playing and fierce songwriting took center stage, establishing the band's initial blues-drenched identity. With tracks like "Black Magic Woman" and "Need Your Love So Bad," Fleetwood Mac, under Vernon's watch, became a powerhouse within the British blues scene.

Ten Years After: High-octane Blues-Rock

Alvin Lee's lightning-fast guitar work and unmistakable raspy vocals defined Ten Years After's brand of high-octane blues-rock. Vernon recognized the band's explosive potential, producing their influential self-titled debut album in 1967. The album captured the band's live energy and featured Lee's signature solos alongside classics like "I Woke Up This Morning." Vernon's production captured both the frenetic energy of their performances and their musical sophistication.

Blue Horizon Records: The Birthplace of British Blues

In the heart of the British blues explosion of the 1960s, a record label emerged that would become synonymous with the very soul of the genre – Blue Horizon Records. Founded in 1965 by producer Mike Vernon and his friend Neil Slaven, Blue Horizon quickly established itself as a haven for blues purists and a launchpad for some of the most influential artists of the era.

The Vision

Vernon and Slaven were driven by a deep, unwavering passion for blues music. Frustrated with what they perceived as a diluted commercialization of the genre, they created Blue Horizon as a bastion of authenticity. Inspired by American blues labels like Chess and Delmark, they aimed to capture the raw energy and spirit of the blues in its purest form.

The Artists

Blue Horizon quickly attracted a roster of blues giants. Fleetwood Mac, under the guidance of Peter Green, released a string of seminal blues-rock albums on the label. Chicken Shack, featuring Christine Perfect (later McVie), delivered their heartfelt blues interpretations. Ten Years After exploded onto the scene with Alvin Lee's jaw-dropping guitar virtuosity. Alongside these giants stood legends like Duster Bennett, Otis Spann, and Champion Jack Dupree.

The Sound

Mike Vernon's production approach played a crucial role in defining the Blue Horizon sound. He favored live-in-the-studio recordings, prioritizing the capture of performances imbued with genuine emotion and raw energy. This translated into albums that crackled with immediacy, bringing listeners as close as possible to the heart of the blues experience.