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Hotstar


12:00 AM Monday, 4/22/02 |   |

John Mayer has barely been awake for half an hour the morning after his sold-out April 5th debut at San Francisco's legendary Fillmore Auditorium, and he's already feeling philosophical.

What does it all mean for a 24-year-old from Atlanta to be on the same stage that so many of his idols, like Jimi Hendrix, once prowled?

"It was absolutely amazing," an admittedly awestruck Mayer told POLLSTAR. "It was the first time that I've ever felt anything close to spiritual onstage in terms of feeling the emotion of a place."

He's had plenty of time to think about the stage and spirituality since he's become something of a touring phenomenon in the last year, selling out larger and larger venues as he takes his Dave Matthews-meets-David Gray sound on the road.

But this was different.

"I was up for a while last night trying to describe it to other people as to how I felt playing on that stage and I think the best I could come up with was that it was almost like a spirit bank that you go to.

"You stand on the stage and you contribute to this giant spirit bank. You get on that stage and you make a deposit and get off the stage and you move on to the next place but you remember kind of getting up there and contributing to this, place, this incredibly historic place. It was definitely something I'll remember for the rest of my life."

Pretty deep stuff. But the Fillmore gig capped a very big week for Mayer, who had also just seen his debut album, Room For Squares, go gold with RIAA certification of more than 500,000 units sold.

"Looking at a gold record, it really is an icon for something. It's a little bit of proof, especially when I need it, because my career has grown so ... quickly, but gradually at the same time. It's very hard to get a sense of progress sometimes.

"So, that, and to do something like even the Fillmore are just great examples of, 'Hey, Johnny, it's not your imagination. It's happening.'"

It's happening, all right. And it's happening without Mayer taking so much as "a dime of tour support," CAA agent Scott Clayton told POLLSTAR.

"He is the perfect artist development story. He toured smart," Clayton said.

"But there was already a base of support for him when he started out touring, and I think a lot of that originated from Napster. Basically, a lot of kids knew John's music from downloading it off the Internet. So that was how the buzz got started, and then from a touring standpoint, we started headlining small clubs and listening rooms with him as a solo artist. We opened up a handful of tours, but mostly we've headlined almost every date along the way."

Once Aware Records released Room For Squares last May, the singer/songwriter began a steady but very noticeable trend, playing progressively larger rooms, and selling them out.

On his current nationwide swing, he is headlining and selling out large clubs and some small theatres, including a recent two-night stand at the House of Blues in West Hollywood. Mayer will make the leap into large theatres and small sheds on his next tour beginning in mid- July, according to Clayton.

Mayer's done it so far with very little radio airplay, though that's changing. His first single, "No Such Thing," has begun to crack playlists across several formats, moving quickly from AAA, college and public radio onto major-market Hot AC and Top 40 stations. And he's philosphical about that, too.

"I'm hoping as I do (cross formats), it doesn't retroactively change what the songs are. I hope they're not products of their environment. I would like to have a record on Top 40 that just changes the way Top 40 sounds a little bit. ... It might be really fun, and hopefully it could work, where everybody would feel really refreshed by what was on and not have the song be tarnished by virtue of having been on Top 40. I think 'No Such Thing' vs. Top 40 would be a nice little deathmatch to watch."

He's also having fun knowing his rapid ascent up the ladder has taken many observers by surprise.

"... I really like the sentiment of 'where did this guy come from?' because there's a little bit of a sense of frustration and aggravation in it. 'Where did this guy come from?' You know, it's just so defiant. There's something just really, really fun about it.

"Even if it appears that way and it's not really the way it went down, I like the idea of the cowboy who just sneaks into the bar. 'You! How did you get in here!'"

Or the idea of the guy with a guitar who snuck up on the legendary ghosts of the Fillmore.


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