McLaughlin's musicianship was already well formed by the time he left Britain. Pop sessions in the 60s with people like David Bowie, rhythm & blues with Graham Bond & Georgie Fame, some more ambitious music like Experiments with pop where he joins Gordon Beck & Tony Oxley for a set that sets out (from what I've heard of it) to deconstruct some of the era's psychedelic hits like I can see for miles & Norwegian wood, where his guitar sounds more Indian than George Harrison's sitar, these were all part of his CV by the decade's end. When Jack Bruce came to record his jazz album Things we like, JM must have seemed an obvious choice on guitar, & his solo work there is anything but squeaky clean. The Mahavishnu work & what he did with Miles are history I suppose, & we all have our personal favourites. I'm afraid I only heard a late version of Mahavishnu live, probably on its last legs, with a section of horn players whose main occupation was hitting cow-bells, wood-blocks & other percussive bits.