For the past 30 years, John McLaughlin has made his home in Monaco. Even if you didn’t know that, you could probably tell right away that his apartment in New York’s Greenwich Village isn’t his primary residence. The giveaway is its abundance of open space, kept in a hotel-like state of cleanliness and populated by only the bare essentials: small couch, simple bed, a handful of tables and chairs. It’s clearly the property of a road warrior. But that road, or part of it, will soon be coming to an end. Forty-eight years after he first entered the United States, McLaughlin will embark this November on what he swears is his last American tour.
“My 75th birthday is right around the corner,” the guitarist, composer and bandleader explains, sitting in the living room of his Manhattan crash pad on a cloudy, cool afternoon just before Christmas. Trim, healthy and vibrant, he speaks with a distinctively cosmopolitan accent that glides from France to America to his native Yorkshire within a few syllables. “I’ve been on the road since I was 16. I want to do less traveling now.”