John McGeoch: Wikis

  
  

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John McGeoch
Birth name John Alexander McGeoch
Born 25 August 1955(1955-08-25)
Origin Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Died 4 March 2004 (aged 48)
Genres Punk rock
Post-punk
Gothic rock
New Wave
Synthpop
Alternative rock
Occupations Guitarist
Years active 1970–1995
Labels Polydor, Geffen
Associated acts Magazine
Visage
Siouxsie and the Banshees
The Armoury Show
Public Image Ltd.
Notable instruments
Yamaha SG 1000 guitar

John Alexander McGeoch, (25 August 1955 – 4 March 2004), was a Scottish guitarist who played with a number of bands of the post-punk era, including Magazine, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Visage and Public Image Ltd..

He was described as "one of the most influential guitarists of his generation".[1] and he was also considered as "the new wave Jimmy Page".[2] In 1996, he was listed by Mojo in their "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" for his work on the Siouxsie and the Banshees song Spellbound.[3]

Contents

Life and career

Early years (1955–1976)

McGeoch was born and brought up in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland, and got his first guitar when he was twelve. In 1970 he played in a local band called The Slugband. In 1971 he moved to London with his family, and in 1975 he began to attend Manchester Polytechnic, where he studied art.

McGeoch had a degree in Fine Art and an ongoing interest in photography, painting and drawing. He provided some of the cover art for his future band The Armoury Show, years later.

Magazine (1977–1980)

In April 1977 McGeoch's flatmate Malcolm Garrett introduced him to Howard Devoto, who had recently left the Buzzcocks and was looking for a guitarist to form a band which would transcend the limitations of three-chord punk. Devoto found what he was looking for in McGeoch and the pair formed Magazine, along with Barry Adamson, Bob Dickinson, and Martin Jackson.

Magazine released their debut single, "Shot by Both Sides", in January 1978. The music was written by Pete Shelley with new Devoto lyrics (the Buzzcocks version is known as "Lipstick"), and the single reached number 41 on the UK singles chart. The same year, he graduated.

McGeoch played on the band's first three albums, Real Life (1978), Secondhand Daylight (1979), and The Correct Use of Soap (1980). He left the band in 1980, shortly after the release of the latter album, frustrated about their lack of commercial success despite being very popular with the music critics.

Visage (1979–1981)

In 1979, whilst still a member of Magazine, McGeoch joined Steve Strange's electronic group Visage along with erstwhile Magazine bandmates Barry Adamson and Dave Formula, beginning to record songs for their first single "Tar" and later, in 1980, for the ensemble's eponymous album, Visage, playing guitar and saxophone.

Although he saw Visage as a joke,[4] McGeoch did have the success he craved, however brief. The band's single "Fade to Grey" went to number one in a number of European countries. McGeoch couldn't participate in the group's second album, The Anvil because he was touring with Siouxsie and the Banshees in Spain at the same time as Visage were recording in London.

Whilst still a member of Magazine and Visage, McGeoch had played with other bands such as Generation X, for some songs from the "Kiss Me Deadly" album, and The Skids, for a late 1980 Peel Session replacing Stuart Adamson, who was ill. During those days, he left Magazine.

Siouxsie and the Banshees (1980–1982)

After joining the Banshees in early 1980[5], McGeoch entered a period of both creative and commercial success. He played guitar on the Banshees albums Kaleidoscope (1980), Juju (1981), and A Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982). The Banshees' hit singles of this era featured some of McGeoch's greatest work, particularly 1980's "Happy House", "Christine" and "Israel". Siouxsie Sioux said:

John McGeoch was my favourite guitarist of all time. He was into sound in an almost abstract way. I loved the fact that I could say, "I want this to sound like a horse falling off a cliff", and he would know exactly what I meant. He was easily, without a shadow of a doubt, the most creative guitarist the Banshees ever had.[6]

However, McGeoch suffered a nervous breakdown due to the stresses of touring and drinking and collapsed on stage at a Madrid concert. This marked the end of his membership in Siouxsie and the Banshees.

By that time, he collaborated with Ken Lockie's "The Impossible" album (1981), along with ex-Magazine mate John Doyle.

PIL (1986–1992)

Following three commercially failed, however critically acclaimed years in The Armoury Show (which included Richard Jobson and Russel Webb, both ex-Skids members, and John Doyle who was McGeoch's bandmate from Magazine), McGeoch joined Public Image Ltd. in 1986, a decision which may have been partly motivated by financial difficulties incurred during his time with the The Armoury Show. McGeoch had been a great admirer of P.I.L, particularly John Lydon's lyrics, yet had reportedly turned down an invitation to join the band in 1984 due to prior commitments.

Despite being hit in the face with a bottle during one of his first concerts with the band, McGeoch remained with P.I.L until they disbanded in 1992, making him the longest-serving member apart from Lydon. He worked on the albums Happy?, 9 and That What Is Not.

During his time with P.I.L, McGeoch married Denise Dakin, on September 14 1988.[7] The couple had a daughter in 1989 - Emily Jean McGeoch.

Life after music and later years (1992–2004)

After Public Image Ltd. split up, McGeoch attempted to form a projects with Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17 and songwriter/producer Keith Lowndes and also with John Keeble of Spandau Ballet, however, neither came to fruition. With John Keeble and vocalist Clive Farrington of When in Rome he formed the short-lived project Pacific (not the band who recorded an album called "Inference" for Creation Records in 1990).

McGeoch, who had been a great pioneer in the 1970s and 1980s, found himself stranded in a new era. He retrained as a nurse in 1995, although before his death he had been writing some music for television. He was reported to have died in his sleep.[8]

Playing style

The first guitar riff he learned to play was apparently "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream.[citation needed] Key characteristics of his playing style included inventive arpeggio, flange effect pedal, string harmonics and an occasional disregard for conventional scales (see Ball of Confusion intro with Tina Turner).

Equipment

His first electric guitar was a red Commodore.[citation needed]

During his Magazine days, he played a Yamaha SG 1000 guitar, used along a MXR flanger.[9]

When he was in The Armoury Show, he also used a Squier 1957 Stratocaster.

During his last days with PIL and during his time with Pacific, he played a solid wood Carvin electric guitar.[citation needed]

Influence on other bands

McGeoch has been cited by many artists as a major influence :

  • Johnny Marr from The Smiths stated on the BBC Radio 2 in February 2008 that he rated McGeoch very highly for his work with Magazine and Siouxsie and the Banshees (especially "Spellbound").[11]
  • The Edge often stated McGeoch as one of his influences. In 2005, U2 selected the Siouxsie song "Christine" from the Kaleidoscope album for the magazine Mojo.[12].

References

  1. ^ « Obituary - John McGeoch: Influential post-punk guitarist », The Independent, 11 march 2004, "Often cited as an influence by leading guitarists such as the Edge from U2, John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood, John McGeoch played in several post-punk bands of the late Seventies and early Eighties."
  2. ^ « Obituary - John McGeoch: Influential post-punk guitarist », The Independent, 11 march 2004
  3. ^ Mojo - 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time June 1996 Issue 89 John McGeogh - Spellbound (Siouxsie & the Banshees, Juju) - 1981 - Yamaha
  4. ^ "Obituary - John McGeoch: Innovative and influential guitarist of the post-punk era". The Guardian. 12 March 2004. http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2004/mar/12/guardianobituaries.artsobituaries. 
  5. ^ Obituary , John McGeoch, Telegraph.co.uk, 15 march 2004
  6. ^ « Obituary - John McGeoch: Influential post-punk guitarist », The Independent, 11 march 2004
  7. ^ Gregory, Andy. "The International Who's Who in Popular Music 2002", p. 233. Published by Routledge, 2002. ISBN 1857431618, 9781857431612
  8. ^ "John McGeoch". The Guardian. 12 March 2004. http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2004/mar/12/guardianobituaries.artsobituaries. 
  9. ^ wire-sound.com, Magazine, 12/12/2008With Magazine, McGeoch played a Yamaha SG1000 + MXR Flanger + a few other bits.
  10. ^ Radiohead Biography capitolmusic.ca Excerpt. Colin Greenwood remembers: "The running joke when we were making this record was that if we recorded a track that stretched over 3mn 50 sec., we'd say "Oh fuck, we've buggered it then. It's gone on too long." Of course, the irony is that the first single we're releasing is actually the longest song on the record. ("There There"). It was all recorded live in Oxford. We all got excited at the end because Nigel was trying to get Jonny to play like John McGeoch in Siouxsie And The Banshees. All the old farts in the band were in seventh heaven."
  11. ^ BBC2 the story of John McGeoch featuring Johnny Marr
  12. ^ U2 made this compilation for Mojo
  13. ^ allmusic.com stated McGeoch with the banshees among the influences of Jane's addiction
  14. ^ Guardian obituary 12 March 2004

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