John McLaughlin: Frank Zappa’s Solos Were “A Little Bit Boring”

Frank Zappa

During the 1960s and 1970s, modern guitar fans were treated to a golden era of exceptional musical talent. Although the 1980s introduced extraordinary guitar players, it was in the prior eras that innovators like Frank Zappa and John McLaughlin revealed some of their most innovative musical masterpieces.

Even among the most legendary guitar maestros, there were unique choices and assessments about one another. For example, let’s probe into the compelling relationship between John McLaughlin and Frank Zappa.

John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin once provided his viewpoints on Zappa’s solos, depicting them as drifting and occasionally “dull.” Their history dates back to the early 1970s when John’s band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, launched on a tour alongside Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Reflecting on those times, John expressed his emotions:

“Frank was indisputably quirky, but his musical skill was unquestionable. It’s noteworthy that I’ve been a fan of The Mothers of Invention since their debut album in 1966.”

However, amidst his appreciation for Zappa’s music, John had two specific statements. Firstly, he said:

“He was unquestionably a skilled musician, but he demonstrated a rather dictatorial leadership style within his band, I must confess. [Chuckles]”

Additionally, John pointed out:

“Furthermore, he had a preference for pampering in stretched guitar solos, often stretching them to 10-15 minutes when, honestly, more brief 2-3 minutes might have been more engaging.”

Nevertheless, on a more positive note:

He was a mesmerizing individual and a composer of exceptional intrigue.”

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