“There’s something profoundly joyful about Shakti and the spontaneity of it,” says guitarist John McLaughlin, seen here with the group at the beginning of their 50th-anniversary celebrations.

Photo by Pepe Gomes

The intrepid guitarist celebrates his long collaboration with master percussionist Zakir Hussain and reflects on the groundbreaking cross-cultural fusion group, his longest running ensemble, and their new studio record, This Moment.

A few years ago, John McLaughlin’s career hung in the balance. Stricken with painful arthritis in his right hand, the famously dexterous and ambitious guitarist couldn’t maintain his playing. So, he announced his retirement from live performing, offering a final tour in 2017. In Billboard, the guitarist glumly mused: “You know, musicians never die. They just decompose. So, I’m on my way.” Though he went on to mention planned recording projects, he now says, “I thought, ‘Time’s up,’ the guitar goes under the bed, and that’s it. I’m out.”

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