100 Greatest Guitarists

68

John McLaughlin

john mclaughlin
Michael Putland/Getty Images

John McLaughlin was invited to record with Miles Davis while still in his twenties, co-parenting jazz fusion on Bitches Brew and other Davis LPs. But he achieved guitar-god status with his own Mahavishnu Orchestra, where he made his Gibson spit fire like a many-headed dragon. A breakneck stylist, McLaughlin was peerless, mixing psychedelic rock, R&B, gypsy jazz, flamenco and Indian raga techniques. That polyglot mastery earned him huge respect from jazz and rock peers alike: Jeff Beck called him "the best guitarist alive."

Key Tracks: "Right Off," "The Noonward Race"

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