Billy McLaughlin is an acoustic guitarist, composer and producer from Minnesota, United States.
Billy McLaughlin graduated with honors from the University of Southern California. He now resides in his home state of Minnesota where he is raising his two boys.
While studying music at the University of Southern California, he became interested in the minimalist compositions of Phillip Glass and Steve Reich. Hearing recordings by guitarists Michael Hedges and Steve Tibbets, McLaughlin began composing for his first CD released on his own record label in 1986. Many of the compositions featured a technique using both hands on the fingerboard in which the notes are “tapped” in a series of hammer-ons and pull-offs creating a harp-like effect. The technique became McLaughlin’s stylistic signature and by the early 90s he was touring the US coast-to-coast.
In 1995, Narada/Virgin Records signed McLaughlin to a multi-album contract ending his string of seven self-released titles. Narada’s first release, Fingerdance, climbed to #7 on the Billboard’s New Age chart and was distributed world-wide.
By 2000, McLaughlin's skills on the guitar were severely degraded due a problems in one of his hands. He could no longer perform most of his own repertoire. Several months later Billy was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder called focal dystonia. Choosing to go against doctors’ recommendations to quit music and look for other work, McLaughlin focused on his songwriting and returned to his ensemble which was less demanding for his hands. McLaughlin began the unlikely journey of teaching himself to play in his signature style, left-handed. Warned by doctors of a higher likelihood for developing focal dystonia in his remaining good hand, McLaughlin chose to press on towards an ambitious goal he had yet to achieve – to perform and record a new project with a string orchestra.
In January 2007, McLaughlin published a limited release of Into the Light, a concert recording of compositions for acoustic guitar with string orchestra. This collaboration with Grammy nominated arranger, Eugenio Toussaint, is McLaughlin’s first as a left-handed guitarist. Into the Light will be released nationally in the Fall of 2007 accompanied by a companion concert DVD. .