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Published by JF Derry

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Published by: JF Derry on Nov 20, 2010
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Dear David,
[...]It's certainly very exciting to hear about your project. Murray is of course a legend and I must have half a dozenof his films adorning my shelves.It's also good to hear that you have spoken to John already (that will save me the trouble) although, as you mayfind out, he may prove the best source of any photographs of his younger self, although I understand that thereis some distant family remaining in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK (e.g., his nephew, the musician Tony Grey hailsfrom there).Over the years, I have certainly spent quite some time in discussion with other aficionados (principally on theONE WORD mailing list - details below) in the search for new media, studying every snippet to come our way. Ihaven't been part of that mailing group for a few years, so I don't know whether something new has croppedup.You're right about John's early introduction to the guitar, aged about 11 years. His elder brother David played alarge part in that. John pays tribute to his memory with the piece "David" on
Music Spoken Here 
(1982). If thereare any family photographs of John's parents and siblings from his early days, then it will likely be a matter forhim to agree to their use.Otherwise, and as you know, the earliest photograph in general circulation is the one on the front of
Electric Guitarist 
, likely from about that time.After that there is quite a jump in the record to those taken at Joe Moretti's, in 1966
and the one that you have seen on my website from 1967
It's worth reading Joe's (meandering) account of those early days to get an idea of the vibe and some of thegroups that John played with (here follows the original version. There's an edited version at http:// www.joemoretti.org/page22.htm)begin -->"John Mc Laughlin ……by Joe Moretti
The Incredible
John McLoughlan {
This article also contains The Truth about the
Jet Harris
Johnny Mac
we called him.
I first heard of John around1962/3. I was working with "
The Man with the GoldenTrumpet
" -
Eddie Calvert
at the time.
I, like many guitarists, was involved mainly in Rock, C&W, and variousother styles of Music. But this name McLaughlin kept popping up. " Have you heard McLoughlan, have youheard McLoughlan" was the cry. And ,the voices were filled with genuine excitement and admiration for this asyet unknown guitarist. Of course I had never heard of him. Most people hadn't. So I forgot about the name untilit started popping again up in London. The first time I met him was on a gig at a U.S Army base with
JohnnyDuncan and the Blue Grass Boys, sometimes affectionately known as "Johnny Duncan and His Blue AssedFlies." Anyway, we didn't have a double bass player for the gig and at the last moment we picked up this Guywho was working as a salesman at "Selmers" music store in Charing Cross Road."Hi, I'm Joe Moretti" I said. "Hi, I'm John Mclaughlin " He replied. And that's how we met.John borrowed a bass from the music store for the gig and off we went. John wasn't a steam bass player by anymeans, but he needed the money which was about seven pounds. The great drummer
Johnny Butts
was withus too. I didn't connect the name McLoughlan with the guitarist I'd been hearing so much about, and he gave noindication that he played guitar, so after the gig I forgot about the guy. On Saturday mornings all the guitaristswould flock to the music stores to try out new guitars, talk shit, and invariably show off what they could do. Thenword started getting around that a certain guitar salesman at "
Selmers" was blowing everybody away. Guyswould go in there full of themselves and leave totally destroyed by what this Gentleman was laying down. Buthe sure sold a lot of guitars for the store.John was already into
Tal Farlowe,
Jimmy Rainey,
Wes, and just about anyone who had something ofvalue to say musically. His hand co-ordination was incredible. No one else had that blinding technique,and heused a little fat plectrum called a pear drop as opposed to the usual flat pick. Combined with the great techniquewas an insatiable appetite for Harmonic development. John was never satisfied. He knew even then thatmusical devlopment was literally infinite and as he got a grip of one thing he just kept moving on. Oh, don't getme wrong. John could play Rock, R&B, and jam in any style, but these were tributaries, all leading to the theGreat Ocean that incorporates all music. Just--- Music. One of his early influences was Dick Morrisey, thatwonderful sax player who, with
Jim Mullins, formed the
Morrisey/ Mullins band. A terrific band. Actually Dickwould pass the info to
Glenn Hughes, and from there Glenn would pass it on to John. Glenn was a terrific
Baritone sax player who featured with many of the top UK bands including
Georgie Fame
at the "
FlamingoClub" in Wardour St. But don't let me get too far ahead.In 1963 I quit
Nero and the Gladiators
after recording "
Bleak house" -the follow up to "
Hall of the MountainKing" and joined
Jet Harris/ Tony Meehan Band
And here's a bit of info. Just to keep the "records "straight. Jet didn't feature on "Scarlett O'Hara
" and " "Applejack" -l did. Jet was too " ill " at the time. He justcouldn't function any more, and was going through a lot of personal problems including a divorce. Why did I doit ? Well, I really felt sorry for Jet. He was a helluva nice guy and the danger was that if I hadn't cut those tracksthe whole band could have fallen apart, and six guys would have been out of work. I got an extra five pounds aweek to keep my mouth shut, and I needed the Money to support my Wife and Child. Also I was never proud ofthose crummy tunes. As far as I was concerned it was shit music.The hurtful thing about that period is that in his articles Meehan doesn't even mention that I was a member ofthe band. As if I had never existed. So I got a wage while Meehan laughed all the way to the bank. I never didlike that motherfucker. Anyway, the original lineup for that band was :T.Meehan-Drums,
Jet-6 string bassguitar,
John Paul Jones
 { né
John Baldwin
}- bass guitar,
Glenn Hughes- Baritone sax,
Chris hughes-
Tenor sax/ flute / arranger, and myself on guitar. Now comes the interesting part. Eventually Jet had to quit, so I went outfront on lead. It was too late to do anything about the situation, short of blackmailing that fucker Meehan, and asI say Jet was on the skids and I didn't want to hurt him any more. But we needed a rhythm guitarist and Glenncame up with the name of a guy who was looking for a steady money- paying gig, so guess who came in on"rhythm guitar" ? You got it - John McLaughlin ! Oh what a change came over that band.Within a month we had transformed our Repertoire, apart from our two chart hits. " Jazz " took over from thepile of Shite we were playing up until then.
Of course the kids came to hear our pop music, and when they didn'tget it they started to stay away. Within a couple of months there were no more bookings. John, like everyoneelse { apart from Meehan} hated the fucking gig. I remember coming off the stage one night to find Johnny Maccrying in a corner out of sheer musical frustation. I wept with him and made up my mind that night to quit andtake my chances in the session business.The band folded soon after that. I've heard numerous people, mainly guitarists, put Johnny Mac down. Forvarious reasons including : " Too Technical "
" Too Busy " and other such stupid statements. Want my opinion ? -They don't deserve to lick his boots. His music goes right over their fucked up heads.
McLoughlan can be aMaster of understatement when it's required. Minimalism is one of John's greatest assets, witness that first LPwith
Sheer Musical Understatement, and he gets that message across. But when it's required he can laydown a string of Hemi, Semi, Demi fucking quavers enough to blow your mind. The guys who criticise him justdon't know where he's at. You can say you don't LIKE what he's doing but NO Way is he a BAD Guitar Player.That's just ignorant crap. Let me give you a small example. If one wants to stay in the 3 chord bag then ok.There's nothing wrong with that. John will play mind blowing music on one mode if that's what's going down.
Butif you want to get into altered changes, scales, then Baby you better do your homework or get the fuck off thestage.Take this example. A piece of music may contain changes like :
Gmajor #11. How the fuck can you get through these changes if you don't know what's going on ? And thesechanges are the norm for the average "Jazz" Musician. If you don't know these changes, OK. there's no shamein that. But don't put a guy down because of your own ignorance ! John has paid his dues many times over. Hehas banged his head against the wall and suffered musical heartbreak to get to where he's at today. I workedand learned from him for a number of years and I know what his contribution to pure musical development hasbeen. And still is. Why should anyone go through all this ? Like the proverbial Mountain- because it's there.Because you owe it to THE MUSIC. But once you are on that path there is no way back. You just keep going.
John walked around for months with a " Squash" ball in his hand. Actually He would exercise his hands andfingers just squeezing gently on the ball, but for hours every day. Of course he would have periods of rest. Butthat was it, squeezing for months, until he built up amazing strength in his wrists and fingers. But He never hurthis fingers by overdoing it. Anyone who tries this should be very careful. He had also to retain that incredibleagility. As his career grew He also exercised so that he became extremely Physically Fit. Combined with thiswas a Great Spiritual Awakening for John. So there you have the necessary ingredients for an exceptionaltalent to explode onto the music scene. Superb Physical fitness, a technique second to none,
an insatiableappetite for music, and a spirit that was totally relaxed and calm and yet could turn the power on to anastounding degree. John was always amazed and delighted by the miracle of being alive. My doorbell rang onemorning, and it was John on one of his visits back to the UK . He was with "Lifeline"at the time. When I openedthe door He was standing with a "Gibson " guitar around his neck. London was reasonably safe in those days,and John just went everywhere with his guitar. On the Metro, walking in the streets, - everywhere.

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