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John McGeoch

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Biography

John Alexander McGeoch, (25 August 1955 – 4 March 2004), was a Scottish guitarist who played with a number of bands of the era, including Magazine, Visage, The Armoury Show, Public Image Ltd., and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Siouxsie Sioux and Jonny Greenwood described him as their favourite guitarist of all time.

McGeoch was born and brought up in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland, and got his first guitar when he was twelve. 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.

In April 1977 McGeoch’s flatmate Malcolm Garrett introduced him to Howard Devoto, who had recently left the Buzzcocks and was looking for a guitarist to form a band which would transcend the limitations of three-chord punk. Devoto found what he was looking for in McGeoch and the pair formed Magazine, along with Barry Adamson, Bob Dickinson, and Martin Jackson.

Magazine released their debut single, “Shot by Both Sides”, in January 1978. The music was written by Pete Shelley with new Devoto lyrics (the Buzzcocks version is known as “Lipstick”), and the single reached number 41 on the UK singles chart. The same year, he graduated.

McGeoch played on the band’s first three albums, Real Life (1978), Secondhand Daylight (1979), and The Correct Use of Soap (1980). He left the band in 1980, shortly after the release of the latter album, frustrated about their lack of commercial success despite being very popular with the music critics.

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