LARRY CARLTON

16 September 2010

[Picture of legendary guitarist from LA - Larry Carlton]Back in the day when I was buying LP records all the time — I began noticing the credits, the names of the session guys.  I think it started with Steely Dan; they were just two musicians and a producer — so everyone else was a guest session musician.  If I liked some bass playing or a guitar solo, I would maybe take a punt on another album where that name came up — or get into their actual real solo albums.

That’s how I got into Larry Carlton.

But Larry meant more to me than just being a guitar player; he defined the guitar sound of the time — probably because he played on EVERYONE’S ALBUMS for years.  I’ve heard it said that Larry put out something like 500 sessions a year throughout the late 1970s to the late 1980s.

He played on the TV theme to a massive hit TV cop show called “Hill Street Blues”. For a while I would mix up Larry and Lee Ritenour, probably because they both used ES335 guitars (my favourite guitar, by the way), although Lee used a slide.

I always adored Larry on “Gaucho” and even his older stuff with Steely Dan, such as the solo on “Kid Charlemagne” from 1976 — and I am amazed that this solo was voted third best ever recorded guitar solo in Rolling Stone magazine.  Wow.  Good for you, Mr Larry Carlton.

As so often happens to my musical heroes, Larry suffered a tragic event — a random act of terrible and senseless violence.  It was back in 1988 outside his own private recording studio (Room 335) that he got shot in the neck! Seriously. The bullet got his vocal chords and ruined some important nerves.  Can you believe this?  I mean, although Larry was one of the best guitarists in the world, his solo work did feature him singing.  How tragic for him.

  • Yet, he survived.  The man lived and moved on to complete the album he was working on, and he has continued to create wonderful music to this very day — what a guy!

[embedded videoclip from Youtube.com, Bubble Shuffle – Larry Carlton]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOn4AsqQSP0]

[embedded videoclip from Youtube.com, Misty – Larry Carlton]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAwAEj6Mdbw]

From my point of view, Larry influenced me greatly — his big hands and big chords suited me and what I was doing with Holdsworth.  Larry led me away from the dark side toward musicality, a lighter, free-er, way of playing. He played so easily, so confidently, so cleanly, and he winked and smiled too — yet this was tricky stuff to play, it was just somehow dissolved into a sugary, show-bizzy, rat-packy scene that was as plasticised as a Playboy cover. Fascinating and bewildering too. I mean to say, soloing with closed eyes! Ah!

What an unsung hero (in so many ways), I salute you, Larry Carlton.

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6 Responses to “LARRY CARLTON”

  1. fRED Says:

    You going to the Darvel Gig? The man himself is coming to the UK for the first time in 35 years… and to Darvel Town Hall. Seriously. No kiddin’. Pinch me! Pinch me, Dave!
    Red Fred

  2. davedevine Says:

    Seriously? wow.
    Pinch me too.

  3. davedevine Says:

    Just in from the Darvel gig — what a superb night! So surreal to be in Darvel. As Steely Dan sang “Life can be very strange”. LOL. –DCD


  4. […] We couldn’t believe it, and as soon as we found out we rushed to get tickets at any cost. The great Larry Carlton, ladies and gentlemen! But […]


  5. […] Man, The Radio Department,  The Thermals, Ratatat, Regina Spektor, Midlake, Rumer, Joshua Radin, Larry Carlton and Steely Dan, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Mike Posner, Rackmaninoff’s All Night […]


  6. […] George Benson, and possibly Al di Meola (as well as a few other maybes — who knows, say  Larry Carlton, or Lee Ritenour — anyway, you get the picture; that’s the […]


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