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John McLaughlin and Jimmy Page


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Thought I'd share this - I remember as a teenager reading a Jimmy Page interview and the interviewer asking who taught him. Jimmy deferred on giving a name. At some point it became known that John McLaughlin gave Jimmy some lessons. I just stumbled upon this hilarious John McLaughlin quote, where he trys to remember the name of Led Zeppelin's guitarist. He must have been joking!


Here is an extract:

BM: You weren't session guys together.

JM: No, but you know who was' Somebody who I gave lessons to...what was his name' He played with Led Zeppelin...ah, Jimmy Page. Yeah, we used to do sessions together. And the bass player from Led Zeppelin, John Paul Jones...we were with Herbie Goins and the Nightimers, an r&b band doing James Brown and Bobby Blue Bland covers. That was a nice band.

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Jimmy Page gave interview in Musician magazine, I believe in 1990, where he said that McLaughlin showed him a few pointers early on. He didn't really expand on that topic much though. I'll try to find the magazine & get the excerpt.

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Success! Here it is, Musician Nov 1990:

Musician: John McLaughlin gave you guitar lessons?

Jimmy Page: He did, that's true. It was great. He could hear things which I couldn't hear. He certainly taught me a lot about chord progressions and things like that. He's fabulous. He was so fluent and so far ahead, way out there, and I learned a hell of a lot. I must have been about 20.

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He was the one who helped start Jazz Fusion. Big Jim Sullivan writes about John McLaughlin:

In my opinion this man is one of the finest and most innovative jazz guitarists this century. We were good friends early on in our careers - 1958 onwards but from 1971 we lost contact. I have always kept up with his career and known that he was the one who would stand out from the rest of us. Believe me none of the guitar players I'm talking about are slouches. We are all world class, but John was a superior player and musician. We used to get on well and when I started to study Indian music he became enthralled in the rhythm aspect of the music. We got together a few times with a tabla and drummer Criss Karan. I played sitar, John guitar and Criss tabla. I was writing pieces of music that were half Indian and half Folk. The first piece I wrote was called "The Koan" and it was in 21/8. At this time I was preparing to make a Sitar album for Polydor and I wanted John to play on this particular track, he did, have a listen. <<The Koan>> How about that? This was in 1967 and even then he knew where he was going. We played on lots of sessions together and he was never really into what he had to play on the sessions. When he decided to go to America it came as no surprise to me. I knew he would be accepted over there and I was right, he was recording with Miles Davis within a few days of being in America. I know from my own experience in America that talent is much more appreciated there than here. When I arrive in Los Angeles to make Tom Jones TV shows, Louis Belson invited me to play with his band at Dontes Jazz club. I was appreciated by the jazz players openly for the first time in my life, so I knew how John must have felt. Of all the guitarists in the world John has the most innovative. Think about it, it was he who laid down the foundations for fusion. Bringing the heavy sound of Hendrix into jazz music. He also brought Indo Jazz fusion's to its climax. It was because of him that Indian musicians started to get involved with western music culture. John now seems to have gone back to the roots and is playing electric guitar again. His sheer taste and musicianship shines through today as fresh as it did 31 years ago and the man will always have my deepest respect.

Source: http://www.bigjimsullivan.com/JohnMac.html

Some books about Pagey also mention that and this biography of McLaughlin says:

Gibson twin-necked SG guitar (something he had in common with JimmyPaige, to whom he had given jazz guitar lessons to in England and towhom is attributed the legend of teaching Jimmy the intro chords to 'MyFunny Valentine' from which he supposedly extrapolated the 'Stairway toHeaven' chord sequence).

Source: http://www.foxyproductions.co.uk/tribute/

I've also read somewhere that Ginger Baker had fired McLaughlin from some band... anyone? :)

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Also this Musician Magazine September 1990 Interview with John McLaughlin and guess who....?? Yngwie Malmsteen!

An Excerpt from Intro: John McLaughlin had a funny name once too. He gave guitar lessons toJimmy Page, invented fusion, used acid, wore white, and made the worldsafe for virtuosos like Malmsteen. John is a composer whose work has beenplayed from the symphony orchestra pits to the downtown jazz scene of NewYork; it's almost culture shock to listen to him thrash his way throughthe classic Birds of Fire or Miles Davis' Jack Johnson afterhearing his two current releases, Mediterranean Concerto andLive at the Royal Festival Hall, with Trilok Girtu and KaiEckhardt.

And that puss, Malmsteen, boasts:

MUSICIAN: But you have to keep moving. As John pointed out, partof being an artist is looking at what you're doing and saying, "This isn'tgood anymore. I want something more from my music."

MALMSTEEN: Well, I change by changing, I change members of my band.I keep getting the same questions: "Why don't you change?" "How come youdon't start playing more blues?" "Why don't you do that, why don't you dothis?" Listen, I just happen to be very happy with my style. In fact, if Imay be so bold....

McLAUGHLIN: Be bold!

MALMSTEEN: ... not many players canboast that they havetheir own music style. I'm happy with that. You know, nobody comesup to Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton and goes, "How come you don't play moreclassical arpeggios in your blues solos?"

MUSICIAN: Well, there's more potential for you as a young,facile guitarist to change and grow. You look at it as an insult.

MALMSTEEN: Well, I don't look at it like an insult, but I just livemore like... I feel like a big fuckin' question mark, really.

McLAUGHLIN: The question is a trap. But if you ask me the samequestion - "So what are you going to do? How are you going to grow, how doyou see yourself in 10 years?" This is realy difficult.

Source: http://www.cs.cf.ac.uk/Dave/mclaughlin/art/flash.html

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Le London All Star - British Percussion Barclay BB-86 (1965)

It's always nice to share a rare record but what about an album that many cite as not existing at all!

Picture the scene, February 1965 and Eddie Barclay, the millionaire playboy owner of Eddy Mitchell's label, the eponimous French Barclay asked Bob Graham, the most prolific and often uncredited session drummer to emerge from the UK pop scene, to produce an album for the French market. Credited to Le London All Star, "British Percussion", released in September 1965, was a stereo showcase, and featured a stunning array of British musicians.

The higher calibre of studios and musicianship in London attracted many acts from abroad. The French pop star Eddy Mitchell was a regular visitor, recording at least eight EPs in London. For Mitchell's releases the session men were dubbed "The London All Stars". Graham recalls: "Charlie Katz rang - 'please be at Pye records, don't ask who the artist is'. I plodded along there, said to (engineer) Bob Auger 'who is it tonight?' - 'Eddy Mitchell', 'who the hell is Eddy Mitchell?". Every record on the Barclay label credited to The London All Stars features Graham, Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan. Other French acts like Francoise Hardy, Michel Polnareff, Eric Saint-Laurent and Sylvie Vartan would also record in London.

Graham used his session colleagues - guitarist John McLaughlin, bassist Alan Weighell, drummers Andy White and Ronnie Verrall. Jimmy Page's contribution was significant. He played lead on every track and co-wrote three with Graham. Before the album's release, Barclay offered Graham a job. "I was taken on as the head of Barclay Records UK. I didn't speak much French, I had an interpreter with me all the time. My job was to produce English artists for the French market. When I joined Barclay I began to stop playing, I just got so tired from the work load. I was tired of playing music I didn't like. Clem Cattini took on a lot of the drumming when I moved from session work".

Finding English language acts for the French market was a somewhat random process. "We put ads in the trade papers - 'artists wanted for auditions'. I produced the In-Betweens (the precursors of Slade) for Barclay at Pye Number 2. I also produced an EP from the singer from Billy Gray and the Stormers, he was called Le Frizzy One. That was Carter, Lewis and Jimmy Page". Ultimately, the French didn't take to the British acts: "You could not get anything English off the ground in France. I got pretty fed up flying backwards and forwards twice a week and I decided to call it a day with Barclay".

But what of the music I hear you ask. Well, it's a joy from start to finish. A bombastic blend of mod groovers that's hard to match - a supreme and swinging blend of jazz and R 'n' B. Banks of trumpets, trombones and french horns blare to the incessant "Mohawk" meanderings of Kenny Salmon's organ. Not only do we have Led Zep's Page on lead but an early outing for John McLaughlin on rhythm guitar makes this an important date. Mr.Page himself once stated,”No such record was made”, and numerous other collectors have also declared this record as myth.

Recorded in Pye Studios, London in a single session - this is history in the making. Their version of 'Image' is perhaps the finest I've ever heard. The real sound of "Swingin' London".

You can actually hear all of the tracks on YouTube.


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I'm not a John McLaughlin expert by any means, but if you listen to his solos on many songs - 'Meeting of the Spirits' comes to mind - there is fluidity and inventiveness to his playing, that reminds me of Page's playing on 'The Song Remains the Same'. Not saying anyone copied anything, but I would think Page would have 'understood' McLaughlin's revolutionary(?) solo guitar work in Mahavishnu Orchestra and made note of what this other guitar genius was doing. Gotta run....

-Royal Orleans (a fan since 1975)

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