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John McGeoch 3/2004

John McGeochMarch 4, 2004 – John McGeoch (Siouxsie and the Banshees) was born August 25th 1955 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland

He acquired his first guitar when he was 12 and first learned to play guitar playing British blues songs, including the repertoire of Hendrix and Clapton. 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.

He also played with a number of bands of the post-punk era, including Magazine; Visage and Public Image Ltd.

After joining Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1980, McGeoch entered a period of both creative and commercial success.

During his first session with the Banshees, he began a new way of playing. He later commented: “I was going through a picky phase, as opposed to strumming. “Happy House” was lighter and had more musicality in it. They invited me to join. I was sad leaving Magazine but the Banshees were so interesting and it felt like a good move.”

With Siouxsie and the Banshees, he played on the albums Kaleidoscope in 1980, Juju-1981, and A Kiss in the Dreamhouse-1982. The Banshees’ hit singles of this era featured some of John’s greatest work, particularly 1980’s “Happy House”, “Christine” and “Israel” and 1981’s “Spellbound” and “Arabian Knights”. McGeoch’s contribution to the band was important in terms of sounds and style. Singer Siouxsie Sioux later honored him:

“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.”

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

Following three years in The Armoury Show, he joined Johnny Lydon’s Public Image Ltd in 1986, after he had initially turned them down in 1984. He was a great admirer of Lydon’s lyrics. He remained with that band until 1992. After Public Image Ltd split up, McGeoch formed projects with Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17 and songwriter/producer Keith Lowndes. With John Keeble of Spandau Ballet and vocalist Clive Farrington of When in Rome, he formed the short-lived project Pacific.

In 1992, McGeoch was invited by Björk’s Icelandic band, the Sugarcubes, to play guitar on the track “Gold” on their Stick Around for Joy album.

McGeoch trained as a nurse in 1995, having gotten married in 1988, and realizing the worries of money with wife and daughter now depending on him.

Before his death in his sleep on March 4, 2004 at age 48, he had been writing some music for television again.

Critics have described him as “one of the most influential guitarists of his generation” and he was even considered as “the new wave Jimmy Page”. 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“.



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