Interview of Rick Laird by Loraine Alterman -Why Mahavishnu is Breaking Up

Interview of Rick Laird by Loraine Alterman. New York titled WHY MAHAVISHNU IS BREAKING UP Rick Laird, former bassist with the now-scattered Mahavishnu Orchestra said it was a case of too much ego and pride that finally doomed the band. “We never even said goodbye to each other after the last concert in December”, he said. Laird, the second member of the Orchestra to state his views on the group’s breakup, directed most of his remarks to the subject of John McLaughlin and his leadership. However, Laird also took issue with some comments of drummer Billy Cobham [Rolling Stone January 17th and 31st,1974]. On McLaughlin: “Out of the 24 compositions we did, there are 23 that he claims are his. The large portion of each of those songs is his. However, the other members, myself included, contributed a great deal to those compositions, making them come alive as a piece of music. We were not credited financially or any other way. The first year and a half,said Laird, was spent with us battling his so-called enlightenment, and him battling our so-called ignorance, which is the highest form of bullshit I ever heard in my life. What a game.”The end came just as the communications gap began to be resolved, said Laird. “Nineteen seventy four promised to be the year in which we could have possibly made some money as individuals, and that too is gone.It’s very unfortunate. I’m sure it’s a disappointment to the audience who wanted to hear Mahavishnu Orchestra” . “Billy accused the rest of us of rejecting him and his music, which is entirely untrue. If anyone was rejected it was the four of us, by him. This he did quite blatantly in the last few months.Most of the time he was concerned with doing his own album.” Laird added : “Billy made a comment that Jerry Goodman [violinist], Jan Hammer [keyboards], and I were wasting our time and that the reason we wanted our music played was an ego trip. This is bullshit ! The fact that he considered his music good enough to record is an indication of a real ego trip .....” Mahavishnu members, said Laird, were salaried. Although they were also supposed to receive a percentage from album sales, he doubted they’ll ever see any money because of losses accrued when the band tried to record an LP in London last year. An attempt was made to persuade McLaughlin to record other people’s music. The idea didn’t work. “That record date was a disaster. We salvaged nothing from it. After five days I remember John leaving the date crying.” The possibility of the group playing again- even occasionally, while everyone pursued their own interests the rest of the time- is very slim , said Laird. “If we were mature adults, we could do this, but since we’re all acting like adolescents, none of these things is possible because we’re in the way.When I say we, I mean egos. Pride- thats what ultimately destroyed us. I feel weve let down a lot of people- especially the huge audience that we had gained. I must say that they were great. It really surprised me that they dug our music, and they dug us. Im most grateful for all of that ..."

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