MOJO (May '04)



Guitarist John McGeoch died on March 5. Remember him says Mark Paytress.

After I tracked him down last summer for what turned out to be his final formal interview, John McGeoch shook my hand, then politely suggested there were places he probably wouldn't go during the course of our conversation. Three hours later, I crawled away with the most raw confessional I'd conducted in my life.

At the peak of his career, in November 1982 McGeoch had been sacked from Siouxsie And The Banshees. While it remained a painful episode, the guitarist spoke fondly and loyally of his ex-colleagues, admitting that bouts of depression and "self-medication" had rendered him "out of control".. "It's a classic story," he shrugged. But McGeoch, who died in his sleep on March 5, aged 49, managed to pull himself together, first with The Armoury Show, and then PiL between 1986 and 1992, before training as a nurse and ending his days writing music for television.

But it's his work with post-punk pioneers Magazine, Visage and the Banshees, on which McGeoch's reputation as the era's most inventive guitarist is based. Dubbed a "new wave Jimmy Page" by this magazine, his complex, bittersweet guitar motifs- rarely bettered than on his 1980 Banshees' debut, Happy House- have since inspired Radiohead, U2 and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. He was "like a magician," says Banshees drummer Budgie, "conjuring sounds out of thin air."

Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.

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