Bathed In Lightning:
John McLaughlin, the 60s and the Emerald Beyond

A book by Colin Harper, published internationally by Jawbone Press in Print and eBook editions
Publication date: March 2014

Hello and welcome to the website for Bathed In Lightning. Herein you’ll find information about the book along with sample text, offcuts, exclusive essays and some rare video and audio content relating to the subject.

The site has been created by Colin Harper and webmaster ‘Exciteable’ Dave Mullan. We hope you enjoy it… and, if you do, we hope you’ll buy the book!

On February 16 1969, John McLaughlin flew into New York, from London, in a snowstorm.
The following day, Miles Davis, his hero, invited him to play on a record. Two years later, on the path of Bengali mystic Sri Chinmoy, John launched The Mahavishnu Orchestra – an evocation in music of spiritual aspiration and extraordinary power, volume and complexity, far beyond anything else in jazz or rock.

Curiously, it was also a huge success. John McLaughlin brought rock music to its pinnacle, the end point in an evolution from Mississippi blues through Coltrane, Hendrix and The Beatles. And then, in November 1975, he hung up his electric guitar and walked away from the stadiums of the rock world for an ongoing, restless career in music of other forms.

To most of the world, John McLaughlin looked like an overnight success, with a backstory going back only as far as that February in 1969. Yet he had been a professional musician since 1958, experiencing all the great movements in British music – trad jazz, rock’n’roll, R&B, soul, modern jazz, free jazz, psychedelic rock – a guitar for hire at the centre of ‘Swinging London’, a bandmate with future members of Cream, Pentangle and Led Zeppelin, but always just under the radar.

Drawing on dozens of exclusive interviews and many months of meticulous research, author and music historian Colin Harper brings that unrepeatable era vividly to life. This landmark new work retrieves for the first time the incredible career of John McLaughlin before he conquered the world – and then chronicles how he did so.

  • Extract: 1965
  • Extract: 1975
  • Interview with  the author
  • Bonus Materials
  • Bonus Media
  • Discography
Mods, Beatles, Bacharach, Jimmy Page, Vashti Bunyan and Petula Clark - and John McLaughlin as a jazz man struggling to find his way amid the frenzy of Swinging London.

Cosmic funk and backwoods intrigues - violinist Steve Kindler finds himself committed to joining the Jan Hammer Group on the eve of the Mahavishnu Orchestra tour of America with Jeff Beck in 1975, until a stern phone call from John McLaughlin swiftly follows Jan’s offer.

Colin Harper discusses the writing and content of Bathed In Lightning: John McLaughlin, the 60s and the Emerald Beyond.

Deleted Scene: An Unused Introduction
A 4000 word Introduction to Bathed In Lightning which was cut (by the author) from the published text. This provides a summary of what Bathed In Lightning sets out to do and why John McLaughlin and the 1960s remain tantalising subjects.

The Mystery Of The Georgie Fame/John McLaughlin Recordings
A website exclusive. John was a member of Georgie Fame’s band during 1962-63 but only recorded with him in the later 60s. But what exactly did he play on? This 5000 word essay explores the subject with extracts from Bathed In Lightning plus exclusive interview contributions from Georgie Fame.

Mahavishnu Orchestra Audio Rarities:
No less than 15 unreleased live performances from 1973-75, collected from bootlegs, which feature either tunes very rarely played by the Mahavishnu Orchestra in concert or tunes never otherwise recorded - with accompanying text. Available to stream or download for free.

John McLaughlin Video Rarities:
Four clips from 1968-75 not currently circulating online plus equally rare glimpses of some of John McLaughlin’s 1960s associates: Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers (shortly after he left them) live in London; the Cromwellian, a typical mid 60s London night-club and pop-star haunt which John would have played; and Terry Dene, a first-wave British rock’n’roller whom John backed onstage in the early 60s.

The discography presented here appears, with different formatting, in the eBook edition of Bathed In Lightning across two appendices: British recordings 1963-69 and American recordings 1969-75. It was compiled using many resources: published print; private diaries from the period (Pete Brown, Howard Blake); existing online discographical resources, rare record retail sites and discussion forums; and the recollections, sought by myself in the course of researching Bathed In Lightning, of many of those involved.