British guitarist, songwriter, and artist (not to be confused with the British pop songwriter John McLaughlin (2)).
Born: 4 January 1942 in Kirk Sandall in Yorkshire, England, UK.
A household name since the early 1970s, John McLaughlin was a fusion guitarist when he led the Mahavishnu Orchestra. He started on guitar when he was 11 and was initially inspired by blues and swing players. He worked with David Bowie, Alexis Korner, Graham Bond, Ginger Baker, and many others in the 1960s, and played free jazz with Gunter Hampel for six months. His first album was a classic, "Extrapolation" (1969), and was followed by an obscurity for the Dawn label with John Surman, a quintet set with Larry Young on album "Devotion" (1970), and half acoustic solos and half jams involving Indian musicians on "My Goal's Beyond" (1971).
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" (1969) and "Bitches Brew" (1970). 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" (1971), "Birds Of Fire" (1973), and "Between Nothingness & Eternity" (1973) – the group disbanded in late 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 nascent world music scene 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-1980s 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 McLaughlin has recorded as a leader across labels, including Marmalade, Dawn, Douglas, CBS, Warner Brothers, and Verve.