Mahavishnu Orchestra was a jazz-rock fusion group led by John McLaughlin, active during 1971–76 and again in 1984–87 after major line-up changes.
First Mahavishnu Orchestra
The band’s original lineup featured “Mahavishnu” John McLaughlin on acoustic and electric guitars, with members Billy Cobham on drums, Rick Laird on bass guitar (although Tony Levin was the first person McLaughlin called to join the band), Jan Hammer on electric and acoustic piano and synthesizer, and Jerry Goodman on violin. This first incarnation of the ensemble was a multinational group: McLaughlin is from Yorkshire, England; Cobham from Panama; Hammer from Prague, Czechoslovakia; Goodman from Chicago, Illinois; and Laird from Dublin, Ireland. This group was considered an important pioneer in the jazz fusion movement. McLaughlin and Cobham met while performing and recording with Miles Davis during the Bitches Brew sessions.Mahavishnu Orchestra McLaughlin was also influenced in his conception of the band by his studies with Indian guru Sri Chinmoy, who encouraged him to take the name “Mahavishnu” which means “Divine compassion, power and justice.” or simply “Great Vishnu”, an aspect of Vishnu.
Mahavishnu Orchestra McLaughlin had particular ideas for the instrumentation of the group, in keeping with his highly original concept of genre-blending in composition. He particularly wanted a violinist as an integral contributor to its overall sound. As the group evolved, McLaughlin adopted what became his visual trademark — a double neck guitar (six-string and twelve-string) which allowed for a great degree of diversity in musical textures—and Hammer became one of the first to play a Minimoog synthesizer in an ensemble, which enabled him to add more sounds and solo more freely, alongside the guitar and the violin.
Their musical style was an original blend of genres: they combined the high-volume electrified rock sound that had been pioneered by Jimi Hendrix (whom McLaughlin and …Source Wikipedia