Starting in 1971 and lasting in one form or another for five years, the Mahavishnu Orchestra exploded onto the popular music scene while simultaneously trashing all existing conventions, forging a new direction that is still controversial to this day. The loudest and fastest band in the entire world, the MO literally could “scare” people – yet also could create music of great beauty. Today, it's genre-busting music serves as a foundation for many musical movements.
All five members of the original band, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman and Rick Laird, cooperated with the author. In addition, almost 150 people, including some of the world’s greatest musicians and artists, provide comments exclusive to this book. Among those commenting for these pages are Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Jeff Beck, Sir George Martin, Jean-Luc Ponty, Peter Max, Joe Zawinul, Bill Frisell, Dennis Chambers, Bill Bruford, Peter Erskine, Jimmy Herring, Jonas Hellborg, Mark Egan, John Scofield, Steve Lukather, Simon Phillips, Lyle Mays, Steve Morse, Joey DeFrancesco, Narada Michael Walden and many, many more.
While Kolosky’s passion for the group is evident from the first page to the last, he rarely imposes himself on the reader. Instead, a relatively chronological history of the band is presented through the words of those who lived it: the members of the group, the roadies, the managers and agents, and the almost countless musicians—many of whom, like guitarists Pat Metheny, John Scofield and John Abercrombie, have gone on to greater fame themselves.
Here are some striking quotes from Simon Phillips and Steve Lukather at Kolosky's book:
Simon Phillips: "Billy (Cobham) became a huge influence on me. I started out as a dixieland/swing drummer. I was not interested in playing rock until I was about 14, so my roots are 'straight ahead'. However, when I got into playing rock, I changed my style totally - and my setup and concept of playing. I felt that playing with power was most important and totally shunned any double-stroke playing. When I heard Billy, his execution was so perfect, so much power and ridiculously fast. But he also had a 'deep pocket', and I was instilled with the importance of playing in time and with a pocket by my father from a very early age. So, Billy's approach was my guideline."
Steve Lukather: "My fav MO album is Birds of Fire. I was starting to "get it" and we played some of the music at high school dances. You haven't lived till you have seen high school kids TRYING to dance to Hope, hahaha. We had a kick ass high school band: myself, Mike Landau, Steve Porcaro, Carlos Vega and John Pierce, all who have gone on to be pro players. We would just LOVE to fuck with people. Landau and I did a version of Birds of fire where we played each others guitar in octaves (NOT easy to do, looked a bit dodgey but we were young) and played the melody in octaves. My hand was on playing the low octave on Mikes guitar while I picked MY guitar and Mike was up the octave picking his guitar. We played the melody of Birds of fire that way. It was a "parlor trick" done with FULL respect but when you are 15 you kinda "hot dog " shit and we just did it cause we could. I hope John knows it was done with respect!
WalterKolosky.com, July 2006