Shakti50 Tour Featured in Rolling Stone India Cover Story

As the latest avatar of the legendary Indo-jazz fusion band kicks off its 50th anniversary Indian tour this month, we spoke to John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain about their five decade-long journey

When British guitarist John McLaughlin first met young tabla player Zakir Hussain in New York in 1969, he felt a connection, but never imagined that they would be musically associated for five decades. “I felt an immediate affinity with him, and we stayed in touch even though he lived on the West Coast and I on the East Coast,” he recalls.

The two musicians first played together at sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan’s residence in California in 1972. Zakir was 21 years old, a child prodigy who had been touring with his father, the legendary Ustad Alla Rakha, since he was twelve. His rising fame meant that he was already friends with the likes of George Harrison and Mickey Hart. McLaughlin was 30, and was by then considered one of the great electric guitarists of the era.

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