A few eulogies that I could easily lay my hands on:
In a review of the Mahavishnu concert performance at The Ritz, New York City, "down beat" (December, 1986, page 61) said "Mahavishnu, on the other hand [compared to Weather Update which was on the same bill], is smokin' so hard now it's frightening. ... McLaughlin remains ammazing. No other guitarist around ... plays with such pure passion and sheer conviction."
In "down beat's" blindfold test of Pat Metheny (Feb., 1981, page 47) they play Pat the song "Friendship" from the album "Johnny McLaughlin, Electric Guitarist". Pat identifies Carlos & John and says, "McLaughlin to me is the most influential voice in the last decade on the guitar, without a doubt. In a way, he's been misrepresented by his imitators; so many people have jumped on his bandwagon that we sometimes forget what an amazing contribu- tion he made. He really turned things around; there's hardly a young player around that doesn't play like him. ... But the missing element is his incredible soulful feeling. It's more than the notes, more than he's the fastest gun . . . it's that he's an incredibly dynamic, strong person- ality on his instrument..."
In the Sept., 1988 "down beat" interview with Chick Corea by Joesf Woodward, Joesf says (page 19), "There is this general view ... that ... Miles [Davis] crystallized electric jazz fusion and that he sent his emmissaries out." Chick responds, "Nah, that's Disneyland. Miles is definitely a leader ... But there were other things that occurred that I thought were equally as important. What John McLaughlin did with the electric guitar set the world on its ear. No one ever heard an electric guitar played like that before, and it certainly inspired me. ... John's band, more than my experience with Miles, led me to want to turn the volume up and write music that was more dramatic and made your hair move."
HIEJ completes it's entry on John with a discussion of his mid-80's activities and the opinion: " - the guitar mastery of John McLaughlin still takes the breath away."
In my humble opinion, John is one one those few consummate musicians. He's in the same league as John Coltrane (on saxophone) and Ravi Shankar (on sitar) and I mean on both acoustic and electric guitars (and on guitar synthesizer too for that matter).