The other key focus for British blues was around John Mayall who formed the Bluesbreakers, whose members included Eric Clapton (after his departure from The Yardbirds) and later Peter Green. Particularly significant was the release of Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (Beano)album (1966), considered one of the seminal British blues recordings and the sound of which was much emulated in both Britain and the United States. Eric Clapton went on to form supergroups Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominos, followed by an extensive solo career that helped bring blues-rock into the mainstream. Green, along with the Bluesbreaker's rhythm section Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, formed Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, who enjoyed some of the greatest commercial success in the genre. In the late '60s Jeff Beck, also an alumnus of the Yardbirds, moved blues-rock in the direction of heavy rock with his band, The Jeff Beck Group. The last Yardbirds guitarist was Jimmy Page, who went on to form The New Yardbirds which rapidly became Led Zeppelin. Many of the songs on their first three albums, and occasionally later in their careers, were expansions on traditional blues songs.
In America blues-rock had been pioneered in the early 1960s by guitarist Lonnie Mack, but the genre began to take off in the mid-'60s as acts developed a sound similar to British blues musicians. Key acts included Paul Butterfield (whose band acted like Mayall's Bluesbreakers in Britain as a starting point for many successful musicians), Canned Heat, the earlyJefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, The J. Geils Band and Jimi Hendrix with his power trios, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys, whose guitar virtuosity and showmanship would be among the most emulated of the decade. Blues-rock bands from the southern states, like Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and ZZ Top, incorporated country elements into their style to produce distinctive Southern rock.
Early blues-rock bands often emulated jazz, playing long, involved improvisations, which would later be a major element of progressive rock. From about 1967 bands like Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience had begun to move away from purely blues-based music into psychedelia. By the 1970s blues-rock had become heavier and more riff-based, exemplified by the work of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, and the lines between blues-rock and hard rock "were barely visible", as bands began recording rock-style albums. The genre was continued in the 1970s by figures such as George Thorogood and Pat Travers, but, particularly on the British scene (except perhaps for the advent of groups such as Status Quo andFoghat who moved towards a form of high energy and repetitive boogie rock), bands became focused on heavy metal innovation, and blues-rock began to slip out of the mainstream.