John McLaughlin (born 4 January 1942 in Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, England), also known as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, is an English guitarist, bandleader and composer.
His music includes many genres of jazz which he coupled with elements of rock, Indian classical music, Western classical music, flamenco and blues to become one of the pioneering figures in fusion.
McLaughlin has been cited as an influence by a number of prominent musicians. He is a Grammy award winner and has been awarded multiple Guitarist of the year and Best Jazz Guitarist awards from magazines such as Down Beat and Guitar Player based on reader polls. In 2003, he was ranked 49th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 2010, guitarist Jeff Beck called him the best guitarist alive. McLaughlin was also referred to as the best guitarist alive by Pat Metheny.
From 1984 through to (circa) 1987, an electric five-piece operated under the name Mahavishnu (omitting the Orchestra). Two LPs were released, Mahavishnu and Adventures in Radioland. The former featured McLaughlin making extensive use of the Synclavier synthesizer, allied with a Roland guitar/controller. The first of the two albums was recorded with a line-up of McLaughlin, Bill Evans (saxophones), Jonas Hellborg (bass), Mitchel Forman (keyboards) and both Danny Gottlieb and Billy Cobham on drums. Initial advertising for concert dates in support of the album included Cobham’s name, but by the time the tour started in earnest, Gottlieb was in the band. Forman left at some point between the albums, to be replaced on keyboards by Jim Beard.
In tandem with Mahavishnu, McLaughlin worked in duo format (c. 1985–87) with bassist Jonas Hellborg, playing a number of concert dates, some of which were broadcast on radio and TV, but no commercial recordings were made.