Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 24

1971 recording, and compare it to the new live
album, you'll hear its integrity like the original,
but the playing is most definitely of today.
Tell us about your PRS guitar.

Paul's guitars are the greatest, and he is as
crazy about making guitars as I am about making music. The feel of the necks, the pickups,
and sound are all great, plus they're the most
beautiful guitars made today. I got my first PRS
from Paul about 15 years ago, and it's a killer.
What amps and effects are you using?

At home, I have the PRS MDT 1x12 combo,
and will use one for the U.S. tour with Jimmy.
In addition, I'm using one of three different tube
preamps depending on my mood; the MesaBoogie V-Twin or the Seymour Duncan Twin
Classic, and I always carry a ZenDrive 2 preamp
in case of a breakdown. The new live album was
cut with the Mesa-Boogie, and I also use an MXR
delay and chorus. I'm working constantly on my
tone - it's a never-ending journey.
You're 75 years old, but your guitar chops
are as fast as ever. Do you do anything to
keep your hands in good playing condition?

50 Years in Fusion

T

he name John McLaughlin is synonymous
with jazz-rock fusion, the genre he helped
invent and sustain for the past 50 years. At the
end of 2017, the guitarist will be performing a
final American tour, this time with co-guitarist
Jimmy Herring and John's incredible band, the
4th Dimension. We recently checked in with
the virtuoso on his rig, the tour, and fiery new
album, Live at Ronnie Scott's.

You first played at Ronnie Scott's Jazz
Club in 1968, when you were about 26 years
old. What do you remember about it?

It was the Mike Carr Trio, with Mike on
Hammond organ, Jackie Denton on drums,
and me - a classic organ trio. It was a big deal
because playing Ronnie Scott's back then was
to make it in Great Britain. Ronnie himself was
a genial person and great tenor-sax player, and

helped young jazz musicians in so many ways.
He was instrumental in helping me with my
visa for America in 1968 - I owe him so much.

What was it like to play there again in
2017, with the 4th Dimension?

My band always has great energy, but to
play again in Ronnie's brought back so many
memories, personally, and there were probably
people in the audience who'd seen me there
in the '60s. The two shows we played were
very meaningful. In a way, it's my personal
thank-you to Ronnie.
On the record, you're reinterpreting the
music of Mahavishnu Orchestra. Did you
let the band determine the arrangements?

The musicians in 4th Dimension are the best
around, so once I give them the chart, all I have
to do is make a suggestion here and there. If, for
example, you listen to "Miles Beyond" from the

VINTAGE GUITAR

24

January 2018

When you were a session guitarist in
the '60s, you gave lessons to Jimmy Page.

We would often meet during pop sessions in
one of the London studios; I must have been 19
when I met Jimmy, who is younger than me. I
would never consider myself to have been his
teacher, but I showed him some of the things I
was doing with the guitar. Another one of his
colleagues, John Paul Jones, was in an R&B
soul band with me and I helped him with his
harmony studies. Guitarist Big Jim Sullivan
was the star on the session scene, but a sweet
guy and great guitarist.
Fans are thrilled that you have co-guitarist
Jimmy Herring on the upcoming "Meeting
of the Spirits" tour.

I heard Jimmy some years ago, and was immediately impressed with his playing - he's got
something truly special. Then someone sent
me his recording of one of my tunes, and he
played a solo that killed me. This tied in with
my desire to bring back some of those Mahavishnu tunes for the U.S. tour, and it was just a
matter of time before we would get together. I
know we're gonna have some magical nights
on the road. - Pete Prown

John McLaughlin: Pepe Gomes.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

It's probably a lot to do with genes; my mom
was a violinist, but a happy mind is definitely
part of the situation. Some of this is down to
many years of inner reflection and meditation,
and a healthy lifestyle. I'm swimming almost
every day, and hike and bike in the mountains.
Of course, I can't keep my hands off my guitar
- I have to play every day, not to practice, but
just for the deep pleasure I get from playing.
There's nothing like it.


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