John was beyond category and beyond compare. He was like a garden of musical and human gifts. That garden is gone.
– Matt Glaser, Artistic Director, American Roots Program, Berklee College of Music
I’ve had the privilege of studying with John for the past two years at Berklee. We all knew that John was going through health issues for the last couple of weeks, but no one could have imagined this terrible news today.
John was one of the most amazing and knowledgeable musicians I have ever known. My private lessons with him were some of the deepest musical revelations I’ve had at a school where everyone is thinking about music all the time. He would amaze me by showing me a concept that he had transcribed from Cannonball Adderley, Wes Montgomery, Eric Dolphy, or Bill Evans. These were concepts that he had transcribed years ago, always from memory! His knowledge of Django was vast, as were his knowledge of traditional Irish music and bluegrass. We even had discussions about Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, and Anton Webern (whom he especially liked!).
But more than anything, John was an absolutely beautiful and caring human being: a teacher in every sense of the word. He always had a smile on his face, would stop and talk to you if he saw you on the street, and was always quick with a joke. I know I’m not the only student who realizes that the void left by John’s passing at Berklee can never be filled.
Goodbye John. We’ll miss you.
– Dan Bui, Seventh-Semester Mandolin Principal, Berklee College of Music
So many of us have great memories of John’s life. To contribute your own, please post below.
Roger H. Brown
President, Berklee College of Music
John McGann performs one of the great, elegiac songs in the American canon, Shenandoah: