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The Picking Prowess of John McLaughlin

In the mid-to-late Sixties, while Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton were putting the rock into blues, John McLaughlin was injecting it and other flavors into jazz.

McLaughlin was influenced by a vast variety of artists, including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone and the aforementioned British Invasion ax slingers, as well as Django Reinhardt, and avant-garde jazz saxophonists John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Indian classical music shaped his style as well.

Given such disparate inspirations, it is perhaps not surprising that McLaughlin forged a unique musical path. In the early Sixties, he worked as a session musician, playing on select cuts for Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Donovan and others.

By the early Seventies, after recording and touring with Miles Davis and Tony Williams Lifetime, he was primed to form the seminal jazz-rock fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra. As his career soared, McLaughlin put the acoustic guitar to the fore with the progressive Indian classical ensemble Shakti and the quasi-flamenco-flavored Guitar Trio (featuring Al Di Meola and Paco de Lucia), and on his numerous solo albums.