Rick Laird

Richard "Rick" Laird ( born February 5, 1941 in Dublin) is a New Zealand jazz bassist of Irish origin, who was best known as a member of the first occupation of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra band.

Life and work

Laird comes from a musical family and learned since childhood different musical instruments. About the guitar, he took up the bass on which he eventually began a formal education and took first professional engagement. Since the jazz scene in New Zealand, where he had emigrated at the age of 15 years with his father, little development opportunities offered, he moved at the age of 19 years along with some musician friends in the Australian city of Sydney. There he accompanied Don Burrows.

Only a short time later, in 1962, he came to London, where he quickly became part of the vibrant jazz, blues and rock scene in the British capital next to his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1964 he was engaged by the saxophonist Ronnie Scott as bass player of the house rhythm section in his jazz club. In this role, Laird gained valuable musical experience in working with U.S. star soloists like Ben Webster, Stan Getz, Wes Montgomery; Sonny Rollins hired him for his soundtrack for the film Alfie. He also worked with Joe Harriot and John Mayer, on whose album Indo Jazz Suite (1965 ), he played along. Through contact with the American musicians, he managed a scholarship to the then most important school of Jazz, the Berklee College of Music in Boston to get where he moved in 1966.

Following the trend of the time, joined Laird in 1968 by the double bass to electric bass, which should be the instrument on which he became known internationally in the band of Buddy Rich in the early 1970s after one and half years. The guitarist John McLaughlin hired him for his new band a little later under the name of Mahavishnu Orchestra recorded their first album and to this day is considered one of the most stylish ensembles forming the so-called fusion music.

Laird played on the first three albums of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which still present the original cast intact and are generally considered to be the most important of this band. Laird's role is not limited to the definition of the role of the electric bass in a yet untapped stylistic environment, but he proves himself primarily as champion in the invention ostinato bass figures about odd meters. Above all, by McLaughlin's strong interest in Indian music is this element of style as a key input to the Lairds jazz of the 70s.

After the breakup of the Mahavishnu Orchestra Laird reduced its activities considerably as a live and studio musician; for one year he emigrated to Spain and employed mainly in photography. After a few brief forays into the rock and pop music (including with Hall & Oates ), he works with Chick Corea, Stan Getz, Buddy DeFranco and Jan Hammer. In 1982 he gave up the bass playing and has since been living as a freelance photographer.

Disco Graphical Notes

  • The Inner Mounting Flame - 1971
  • Birds of Fire - 1973
  • Between Nothingness and Eternity - 1973

All with the Mahavishnu Orchestra

  • Mourners Rhapsody - Czesław Niemen with 1974
  • Soft Focus - solo, 1977


  • Jazz Riffs For Bass
  • Improvising Jazz Bass


  • Reprint of an article from Guitar Player Magazine, July 1980
  • Rick Laird at Allmusic (English ) Template: Allmusic / Maintenance / ID mandatory parameter is missing
  • Jazz bassist
  • Fusion musicians
  • Photographer
  • New Zealanders
  • Irishman
  • Born in 1941
  • Man