Rick Laird

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Richard Quentin Laird (born 5 February 1941) is an Irish bassist who is best known for his place in the jazz fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Laird played music from a young age and enrolled for guitar and piano lessons. He started playing jazz after moving to New Zealand at the age of 16 with his father. He played guitar in jam bands in New Zealand before buying an upright bass. After extensive touring in New Zealand he moved to Sydney, Australia, where he played with many top jazz musicians including Don Burrows.

He moved to England in 1962 and became house bassist at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, playing with many greats including the guitarist Wes Montgomery and Sonny Stitt and even with Buddy Rich, most notably the residence at The Talk of the Town in 1969. From 1963 to 1964 Laird was at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He was recorded on Sonny Rollins's record Alfie and played in The Brian Auger Trinity (July 1963-February 1964) and The Brian Auger Group (February–October 1964).

His next step was to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston, US, where he studied arranging, composition and string bass. He then teamed up with John McLaughlin and The Mahavishnu Orchestra to play electric bass until 1973, when the band broke up. After that, he moved to New York and played with Stan Getz (a tour in 1977) and Chick Corea (a tour the following year). Laird put out one album as a leader, Soft Focus. He was interviewed in Guitar Player in 1980 and Bass Player in 1999. Today, he is a successful photographer as well as a private bass tutor and an author of a number of intermediate- to advanced-level bass books.

Laird was one of a handful of musicians to play an S. D. Curlee, which was his principal fretted bass.[2]

Richard Laird, as he is known in the art world, in March 2009 came across a collection of photographs in a file cabinet that he had taken in years past of legendary jazz artists but had mostly forgotten about. The discovery of these historic photos that feature Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Elvin Jones, Keith Jarrett and many others led to the formation of an online archive[3]

He has one daughter, Sophie Rose Laird, who was born on February 21st, 1988 to his second wife, acclaimed art lawyer, Jo Backer Laird.


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Horacee Arnold

  • Tales of the Exonerated Flea (Columbia, 1974)

With Richie Cole

With Eddie Daniels

  • Brief Encounter (Muse, 1977)

With Stan Getz

With Benny Golson

  • Three Little Words (Jazz House, 1997)

With Eddie Jefferson

With Vic Juris

With Rahsaan Roland Kirk

With Eric Kloss

With Prince Lasha

With Yusef Lateef

  • Live at Ronnie Scott's 15 Jan 1966 (Gearbox Records, 2017)

With The Mahavishnu Orchestra

With Czesław Niemen

With Gerry Niewood

  • Gerry Niewood and Timepiece (A&M/Horizon, 1977)

With Anita O'Day

  • Ao vivo no 150 Night Club (Estúdio Eldorado, 1984)

With Buddy Rich

With Sonny Rollins

  • Live in London (Harkit, 2004)
  • Live in London, Vol. 2 (Harkit, 2005)
  • Live in London, Vol. 3 (Harkit, 2006)

With Annie Ross

  • You and Me Baby (Decca, 1971)

With Clive Stevens & Friends

  • Atmospheres (Capitol, 1974)

With Stan Tracey

  • Laughin' & Scratchin' (Jazz House, 1966)

With Treasure

  • Treasure (Epic, 1977)

Instructional Books[edit]

  • Laird, Rick. (1978) Jazz Riffs for Bass (Music Sales Corp)
  • Laird, Rick. (1980) Improvising Jazz Bass (Music for Millions Series) (Music Sales Corp)


  1. ^ Allmusic
  2. ^ Berle, Arnie (July 1980). "Rick Laird". Guitar Magazine. Retrieved 29 September 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "The Photography of Richard Laird" Archived 2009-03-12 at the Wayback Machine at Jazz.com