John McLaughlin In-depth Biography
A household name since the early '70s, John McLaughlin} was an innovative fusion} guitarist when he led the Mahavishnu Orchestra} and continued living up to his reputation as a phenomenal and consistently inquisitive player through the years. He started on guitar when he was 11 and was initially inspired by blues} and swing} players. McLaughlin} worked with Alexis Korner}, Graham Bond}, Ginger Baker}, and others in the 1960s and played free jazz} with Gunter Hampel} for six months. His first album was a classic (1969's Extrapolation}) and was followed by an obscurity for the Dawns} label with John Surman}, a quintet set with Larry Young} (Devotion}), and My Goals Beyond} in 1970 which was half acoustic solos and half jams involving Indian musicians.
In 1969, McLaughlin} moved to New York to play with Tony Williams' Lifetime} and he appeared on two classic Miles Davis} records: In a Silent Way} and Bitches Brew}. In 1971, McLaughlin} formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra}, a very powerful group often thought of as rock} but having the sophisticated improvisations of jazz}. After three influential albums (The Inner Mounting Flame}, Birds of Fire}, and Between Nothingness and Eternity}), the group disbanded in 1973. McLaughlin}, who recorded a powerful spiritual} album with Carlos Santana} that was influenced by John Coltrane}, put together a new Mahavishnu Orchestra} in 1974 that, despite the inclusion of Jean-Luc Ponty}, failed to catch on and broke up by 1975. McLaughlin} then surprised the music world by radically shifting directions, switching to acoustic guitar and playing Indian music} with his group Shakti}. They made a strong impact on the world music} scene (which was in its infancy) during their three years. McLaughlin} then went back and forth between electric and acoustic guitars; leading the One Truth Band}; playing in trios with Al DiMeola} and Paco De Lucia}; popping up on some mid-'80s Miles Davis} records; forming a short-lived third version of the Mahavishnu Orchestra} (with saxophonist Bill Evans}); recording an introspective tribute to pianist Bill Evans}; and, in 1993, touring with a rollicking jazz} trio featuring Joey DeFrancesco} and drummer Dennis Chambers}. Throughout his productive career John McLaughlin} has recorded as a leader for Marmalade}, Dawns}, Douglas International}, Columbia}, Warner Bros.}, and Verve}. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide