John McCloskey started playing guitar in 1979. After cutting his teeth on
70's era rock (KISS, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.), he began to
explore the music of Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Frank Zappa, and Robert
Fripp, all of whom remain important influences. His older brother's
adventurous album-buying habits (remember vinyl?) eventually exposed him to
such progressive rock/avant-garde groups as Gong, Soft Machine, Area,
Faust, Henry Cow, etc. After hearing these sounds, there was no turning back.
While studying Electrical Engineering at Penn State University, John kept active musically by playing guitar in various jazz and rock groups, including a brief summer stint playing bass in the Penn State Jazz Ensemble. He also played with an avant-garde group called Tin Scraps, whose sole purpose in life was to completely shatter all preconceived notions about musical boundaries. It was only a matter of time before John gained access to the University's electronic music lab, in which he composed and recorded a completely electronic piece for dance called "Terms," which was choreographed and performed by the Pennsylvania Dance Theatre.
While still at Penn State, John was also active at WPSU, the campus radio station. His voice was heard regularly on the Jazz and Avant-Garde programs, and he occasionally substituted on the classical music program. The radio station's large record library (yes, we're still talking vinyl here) enabled John to continue to expand his musical palette.
After graduating from Penn State, John took a job as an Electronics Engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. At this time, he decided to concentrate his musical pursuits on the study of jazz guitar with former D.C. area guitarist Paul Bollenback.