The Light Pours Out Of Him: In Praise of John McGeoch

The Light Pours Out Of Him: In Praise of John McGeoch

It’s not inaccurate to call John McGeoch one of the patron saints of this here blog, because my excitement at discovering the Magazine/Siouxsie & The Banshees/Public Image Limited guitarist a few years ago and wanting to talk about him to, well, anyone/no one, was one of the reasons I started blogging again – it took a month, but this BBC audio programme on McGeoch’s life was one of the things I wanted to share from day one. It’s also the reason I’ve bought far too many flanger pedals, but that’s another story.

So I’m pleased the massively influential yet perpetually under-appreciated guitarist is having a moment in the spotlight, some eighteen years after his death. This is mainly thanks to the publication of The Light Pours Out Of Me: The Official John McGeoch Story, a biography that should bring his story and impact on modern music greater attention, as much as a music biography can in 2022, at least.

The Guardian ran a feature piece last week that provides a bit of both to the general populace, recounting his story from the founding of Magazine in 1976 through his pivotal years with The Banshees and his tenure in PIL, before leaving music and passing away at the age of 48. It’s not clear if the quotes in the piece – from the likes of Siouxsie Sioux, Johnny Marr, James Dean Bradfield, and Steve Albini amongst others – are cribbed from the book or were collected for the article itself, but it certainly whets the appetite to read the book. For example, the praise for McGeoch’s Banshees work from Marr and Bradfield:

The albums Kaleidoscope, Juju and A Kiss in the Dreamhouse marked a hugely fertile period for the Banshees with McGeoch-powered tracks such as Spellbound invoking “pure invention, grace and bloodlust ballet” according to Bradfield. Marr adds: “The music he made with the Banshees … the word imperial was made for that music.”

‘Invention, grace and bloodlust ballet’: post-punk guitarist John McGeoch @ The Guardian

This Guitar World feature, on the other hand, is composed entirely of excerpts from the book, but the tributes from Marr, Albini, John Frusciante, Ed O’Brien, and Stuart Braithwaite amongst others are still wonderful to read.

“John McGeoch was the best post-punk guitarist. He played like no-one else, totally distinct and with unyielding imagination. I hear his influence everywhere to this day. A total legend.”

Stuart Braithwaite, Mogwai
The genius of John McGeoch: John Frusciante, Johnny Marr and more pay tribute to the unsung hero of post-punk guitar @ Guitar World

And it’s a shame I’ve already got a very good double-humbucker Gibson-style guitar and too much sense to get another, because the Eastwood McGeoch 1000 – a reproduction of McGeoch’s Yamaha SG1000 – is a lovely piece of kit.

Finally, one of the few bits of live footage from McGeoch’s tenure in Magazine. Here they are performing their first single – “Shot By Both Sides” – on July 2, 1979 for Belgian television programme Follies.

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