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John McGlaughlin

 

 

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John McGlaughlin was born in England in 1942.  He started playing guitar at the age of 11 and at the age of 16, he quit school and took a job at a musical instrument shop and sat in with jazz groups.  On weekends, he would hitch hike rides to Manchester, 200 miles away to hear Spanish guitar players at guitar clubs.  He played with various groups throughout the late 50s and throughout the early to mid-Sixties.  In 1968,  Dave Holland, the bass player for Miles Davis passed on a copy of a tape of McGlaughlin to Tony Williams.  As a result, McGlaughlin joined Tony Williams' group Lifetime.  He also played on Miles Davis first sessions involving electric instruments and played on the classic Davis records In a Silent Way and the groundbreaking rock/fusion record Bitches Brew.  His first solo record Extrapolation, recorded in 1969, is a revered guitar classic.

In 1971, he formed the Mahavishunu Orchestra, an Indian/jazz/rock fusion group that pushed the volume in their live shows to the limit, yet utilized the sophisticated improvisation of jazz.  The group was named after McGlaughlin's spiritual name given to him by his guru, Sri Chinmoy.  The group featured McLaughlin, drummer Billy Cobham, bassist Rick Laird, keyboardist Jan Hammer (who would achieve fame for writing the Miami Vice theme), and violinist Jerry Goodman.  The group recorded 3 albums and then disbanded in 1973.   McGlaughlin formed a new Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1974, and included violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, but the group never achieved the popularity of the original and disbanded after a year.

Since then, he has went on to record various projects with both the electric and acoustic guitar, including playing with Miles Davis again in the 1980s, forming a guitar trio with Al Di Meola and  Paco De Lucia and even forming a short-lived third Mahavishnu Orchestra. 

Guitar Player magazine had this to say about McGlaughlin, ""Though Larry Coryell was recording brilliant jazz-rock lines on his hollowbody Gibson with Gary Burton in 1967, McLaughlin was the first jazz guitarist to play complex altered scales, stinging bent notes and odd meters on a distorting solidbody at ear ringing volumes. His work on Miles Davis' Bitches Brew and In A Silent Way set the stage for the fusion guitar movement of the 1970s. By the time he formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra and released Inner Mounting Flame he had become the de facto father of the genre."

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