John McLaughlin

Rolling Stone has a straight-to-the-point biography of John McLaughlin in their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists:

“John McLaughlin was invited to record with Miles Davis while still in his twenties, co-parenting jazz fusion on Bitches Brew and other Davis LPs. But he achieved guitar-god status with his own Mahavishnu Orchestra, where he made his Gibson spit fire like a many-headed dragon. A breakneck stylist, McLaughlin was peerless, mixing psychedelic rock, R&B, gypsy jazz, flamenco and Indian raga techniques. That polyglot mastery earned him huge respect from jazz and rock peers alike: Jeff Beck called him “the best guitarist alive.”

It’s interesting to read John’s own words, which are captured in the “Musical Life” section of his official website, about how he found himself at the birth of electric jazz fusion:

“After a jam with drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland in Ronnie Scott’s club in London, Jack plays a recording of it to Tony Williams and he gets me the gig with Tony and Lifetime… By the time I arrive in New York, I’d just passed my 27th birthday, and playing with Tony and [Larry Young] was one of the greatest experiences of my life. My good luck didn’t end there as I found myself in the studio with Miles a day after my arrival in New York for the recording of “In A Silent Way”…” See how easy it is to find yourself at the center of a musical revolution…?

One other very simple recollection from John, on the formation of what is still considered the premiere jazz-rock fusion group of all time, Mahavishnu Orchestra: “After a club date in Boston in 1970 with Miles, he tells me it’s time to form my own band.” No doubt to Miles the signs were clear.

Take some time to explore John’s lifetime of recorded music… there is so much more to John’s oeuvre than just jazz fusion: the acoustic guitar trio with Al DiMeola and Paco de Lucia; the various incarnations of the Indian/western world music group Shakti; the organ trio with Joey DeFrancesco and Dennis Chambers or Elvin Jones; The Heart Of Things band; and his latest, present day’s 4th Dimension. There are so many gems to hold up to the light and examine…


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Photos of John McLaughlin’s past events: