If you said Joe Satriani, you’re flat wrong. This guitar star wasn’t his pupil. Mahavishnu Orchestra’s mastermind and guitarist John McLaughlin talked to Dave Lawrence about it and about being the opening band to Black Sabbath in the 1970s. Read some excerts of the interview here:
“Yeah, but he was like 17 and I was 18 [John was 18 back in 1960]. What am I going to teach him? ‘You know this chord, Jimmy?’ Not too much, but we became friends.”
“And all of that gang, John Paul Jones… I was playing with John Paul Jones in an R&B band Herbie Goins and the Nightimers. And I taught him harmony before Zeppelin was even formed.”
About Black Sabbath:
“Black Sabbath! Yes. I was thinking Metallica – it wasn’t Metallica. Black Sabbath [on the 1976-1977 ‘Technical Ecstacy’ tour]. I mean, we’re sitting on a carpet with acoustic instruments, and there are like some real headbangers in the audience. But they loved it!”
“So it was a whole other vibe in those days. The music was paramount, and people were ready to listen to anything. ‘It’s different but it’s music, so let’s check it out.’
“As opposed to today where everything is just… You’ve got this kind of band, okay, put this [same] kind of band [to open]. We’ve become so kind-of conservative as a society.”
On the good old days of diverse music concerts:
“The whole attitude, the whole vibe was very different. The attitude was enlightened – if I can use that word.
“Because they would get a band, some main band, and then they’d say, ‘Who’s the opposite of that? Let’s find somebody who is nothing like the headliner, and we put them together – maybe people will discover some music.’
“Which is why Mahavishnu ended up doing gigs with The Eagles, one of my all-time favorite bands… Aerosmith, James Taylor, Leo Kottke, George Carlin, Cheech & Chong… [Laughs] We had some amazing combinations.
“Even later when [John’s other band] Shakti came, from 1976, we did gigs with… What was the name of that band? Like a heavy metal band…?”