“I don’t think there’s any guitar playing in history that stands above that”: John Frusciante, Johnny Marr, Radiohead and the Edge rank him among their favorite players – now underrated guitar hero John McGeoch gets the spotlight in new documentary

John McGeoch
(Image credit: Dave Formula)

John McGeoch – the hugely influential and yet, somehow, massively underrated electric guitar talent behind a string of iconic ’80s alternative acts – is the subject of a new documentary, The Light Pours Out of Me.

Currently raising funds over on Kickstarter, the movie aims to tell the story of the innovative Scottish guitarist who performed on an astonishing run of key albums for UK post-punk acts, including Siouxsie and the Banshees, Magazine and Public Image Ltd.

McGeoch passed away in 2004 and counts many household names among his biggest fans: among them John Frusciante, Johnny Marr, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Jonny Greenwood, and even the Edge.

However, despite playing a defining role in reviving innovative guitar playing from the ashes of punk’s slash and burn moment, he never received the recognition of his peers.

For their part, the filmmakers say they intend to redress that balance:

“This is John McGeoch’s story told by those who loved him most; his close family members and the wider family of leading musicians who are proud to have known and worked with him, as well as those who have been influenced by this visionary guitarist.”

Check out the preliminary trailer for the film above, which incorporates snippets of conversations about McGeoch from the likes of Johnny Marr, John Frusciante and Billy Idol, as a taster of what’s to come.

Despite building an enviable reputation (and contact book) as a game-changing guitar player, McGeoch nonetheless wrestled with addiction and poor mental health. 

He later stepped away from the limelight in order to raise his daughter and work in the care sector with Alzheimer patients, and the movie will reportedly attempt to encompass all these facets of McGeoch’s story.

“Universal questions, not only about music and creativity, but also about what an artist is willing to sacrifice on the path to recognition are embedded in this film,” says the team. 

John McGeoch onstage with Siouxsie and the Banshees

John McGeoch onstage with Siouxsie and the Banshees (Image credit: Pete Still / Getty)

“When success turns to pressure, pressure to addiction and fragility is masked by substance abuse, the effects can be devastating. Issues of mental health and addiction that are part of our contemporary conversation were not widely discussed when McGeoch was at the height of his fame. The Light Pours Out of Me considers these themes in a sensitive way, giving them a context that resonates with audiences today.”

The film is attempting to raise an initial funding target of approx. $49,000 (£40,000) via a Kickstarter campaign and has secured an award-winning team to produce it, including Nicola Black and Paul Sng, alongside Rory Sullivan-Burke – the author of McGeoch’s biography of the same name.

To learn more about the project and contribute towards its production (please do, we’d love to see this get made), head to John McGeoch: The Light Pours Out of Me Kickstarter.

In a rare moment of recognition, McGeoch was one of the players that (deservedly) made it on to Rolling Stone's highly controversial 250 greatest guitarists of all time list.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.