Did John play on Vashti Bunyan’s ‘Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind’?
‘In my opinion the participation of JM in the Vashti record is highly questionable… It seems to me that someone saw JM mentioned in the context of the ‘Some Things’ track from the [Rolling Stones] Metamorphosis LP, and thought that this was actually the session for Vashti.’
Johann quotes an email Vashti sent in reply to a query from Julian Derry:
‘Unfortunately I have no recollection of John McLaughlin at the sessions for the recording of Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind. It was only recently - through the Internet - that I even knew he was there that day - and I was hugely surprised and pleased. I do remember Big Jim Sullivan and Jimmy Page and Nicky Hopkins being there - however there were so many musicians in the studio the song had to be recorded in shifts. For someone of 19 only used to playing guitar and singing by herself and knowing nobody - this was an overwhelming experience and never forgotten.’
Colin Harper response:
I did exchange emails with Vashti myself but... well, who knows? Vashti’s session was produced by Andrew Loog Oldham who had a propensity, influenced by Phil Spector, for using multiple instruments. It wouldn’t be unusual at all for him to have had three guitarists on a session. The difficulty in being sure of JM's involvement in any pure session work during the 1960s is that he was scrupulous about playing only what was required - hence no identifying features! But in a way that can sometimes, in itself, be a kind of identifying feature - given that Big Jim Sullivan and Jimmy Page almost always did do their 'own thing', making it easier to identify them. For example, I feel 90% confident that it's John playing on Petula Clark's splendid version of the Beatles’ ‘Rain’ from 1966 because of a certain attitude in the playing even though the guitar part never deviates from what was, obviously, scored for it.
Are there other 1960s Georgie Fame tracks on which John might have played?
Johann Heidenbauer points the finger of suspicion at the following:
Roadrunner (features some distinct guitar)
Beware of the dog
Kentucky child (supposed to be an outtake from The Third Face Of Fame - but I don't hear a guitar)
Did John play on the Andrew Oldham Orchestra’s ‘365 Rolling Stones’ single of 1964?
Johann Heidenbauer again raises doubts, pointing to the website entry:
The text of that entry, however, given below, is not conclusive:
During their second UK tour (January 6-27, 1964) the Rolling Stones returned twice to Regent Sound Studios to record tracks for both their upcoming first album and the Andrew Oldham Orchestra. The band helped Andrew Oldham out on some tracks that would mostly end up on B-sides. Eric Ford (guitar), Andy White (drums) and Reg Guest (piano), all members from the Nashville 5, were also to feature on the tracks
An instrumental song was released by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra as a single on April 10, 1964. In order to create some mystique that the Stones were involved it was given the title "365 Rolling Stones (One For Each Day Of The Year)”. It became the soundtrack for Ready Steady Go!, the ITV television programme launched to combat BBC´s Top Of The Pops.
These are two separate paragraphs; we’re not specifically told (whatever the original source of the info may be) that Eric Ford, Andy White and Reg Guest were the only musicians involved; we’re not given a specific link between the January 6-27 session activity and the April 10 single release (though it is, surely, the case). Johann doesn’t feel JM did much session work before the end of 1964 – and by and large I agree that this is probably the case. But against that we have Joe Moretti’s statement, quoted in Bathed In Lightning (BIL hereafter, for convenience), that following the Tony Meehan Combo – which collapsed in December 1963, with a brief reunion for a couple of TV miming opportunities around their single ‘Song Of Mexico’ in early January 1964 – both he and JM got involved in the session work scene and did so at the same time. Nevertheless, we just can’t say if JM was or wasn’t on ‘365 Rolling Stones’ but as it was such an early venture for Andrew Oldham, it seems reasonable that he wouldn’t have had the confidence or available funds to hire multiple instrumentalists as was the case with later Andrew Oldham productions. Maybe it was just Eric Ford on guitar…
Did John really arrive in New York on February 16 1969?
John has often said that two days after arriving he was playing on Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way. This seems to be attested by comments from Miles and Tony Williams and, crucially, by the Columbia studio logs – which put the LP recording on February 18. Miles’ studio dates from this period seem to be a matter of record. However, Johann Haidenbauer brought a Melody Maker news item to my attention, which I had somehow missed in my own researches, from the issue dated 8/2/69 [the magazine was published on Thursday and dated for that Saturday, in this case Saturday 8th]. Here is the content of the news item:
McLaughlin flies to states to record LP
Guitarist Johnny McLaughlin flew to America on Saturday to record an album with Miles Davis’ drummer Tony Williams - following in the footsteps of bassist Dave Holland who is currently with the Davis quintet. According to drummer Jon Hiseman - with whom John McLaughlin is featured on a new album with Jack Bruce and Dick Heckstall-Smith - Williams asked McLaughlin to go to the States after receiving rave reports from American musicians who heard him in Germany recently.
My instinct is this: MM writer (and drummer) Chris Welch met Jon Hiseman during the preceding week and came away with a slightly garbled version of things. Was it even the previous Saturday (Feb 1) Chris was talking about, or that Saturday (Feb 8), but writing in retrospect, as the magazine would be on the stands for the better part of a week after Feb 8? The Jack Bruce album he refers to – Things We Like – was recently recorded but not released until 1971. Perhaps John intended to fly to New York earlier but had to opt for a flight a week or two later for reasons unknown. What we do know, adding to the intrigue, is that the printed programme to the March 2 1969 Cambridge ‘Natural Music’ event (covered in the book) refers to John – who was billed to appear, but did not – as having been (past tense) in New York in February to record with Tony Williams. Perhaps they got this from that MM piece and just assumed he’d be back for their show… perhaps John told them himself he’d be back for the show but things took off in NYC… who knows?
When did John tour as a backing musician for Wilson Pickett?
Johann Haidenbauer raises a question about whether John could have accompanied Wilson during November 1965, as I suggest in BIL. He points to this website celebrating a club in Portsmouth which the Night-Timers (John’s regular band at the time) often played, including Nov 13 1965. We can see that Wilson Pickett also played it, on Nov 23 1965:
I speculate in BIL that the Night-Timers may have taken a break for a couple of weeks, for reasons unknown – Herbie was ill, they took a holiday, whatever – during which time John was avbailable to back a visiting artist. It really wasn’t that unusual, and we know from Wilson’s interviews that he certainly was backed by British musicians during his British dates and that guitars were prominent (I give a quote to this effect in BIL). We know that John was involved in a Wilson tour in Britain because he mentions it in a 1971 interview, alongside mention of a Four Tops tour (which we can verify from John’s friend and fellow guitarist Gary Boyle having seen one of the shows on their tour). There is absolutely no reason to doubt that John DID back Wilson on tour in Britain; the question is ‘when?’. I was meticulous in searching for evidence of Wilson Pickett tours of Britain in the 1960s, prior to February 1969 but most likely between 1965-67. As well as Melody Maker, I searched through all of the 1967 issues of NME at the British Library – solely looking for Wilson Pickett information. Unless he flew in under the radar, I can be 99% sure that Wilson only toured Britain twice in the relevant period, the first time being the time which I believe John could conceivably have backed him. We can’t rule out the possibility that, even if the odd overlapping Night-Timers date turns up, they got a dep in for a show or two or did the show without a guitarist. This kind of thing, again, was not unusual for the time. Most people were going to see Herbie Goins and an uptempo R&B act with horns, and going to dance; the guitar was in a supportive role.