Posts Tagged ‘Steely Dan’



[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, Bubble Shuffle – Larry Carlton]


[embedded videoclip from, Misty – Larry Carlton]


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.




Way back in the day, I noticed the name Steve Gadd among the credits listings on far too many of my LP records.

The name Steve Gadd seemed to be everywhere, man.  He began to achieve legendary status (with me and my muckers anyways) for his work on Steely Dan’s “Aja”.

The other thing he may be bestest known for is Paul Simon’s “50 ways to leave your lover” which is for girls, but we forgive Gadd, for he has to earn a crust same as us all.

Anyhoo, here’s an interesting link to Steve Gadd doing what-made-him-famous — courtesy of  Check it out, man — isn’t that kool?

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You know what is sooo good about the clip is that you get it all over again halfways through, but in s-l-o-w motion — and that is really what drives home what is going on – what he’s doing.  Pretty enlightening, but if (like me) you craved more information, why not check out the reply posted on YouTube by “Prof” Jeff Indyke, where he teaches the Steve Gadd paradiddle — informative AND entertaining.

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Here is Steve Gadd himself playing “50 ways”:

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Oh! and amazingly, I came across a RECENT videoclip — just uploaded in July (2008) where Steve shows the drum fills he used in “Aja” — no kidding!  Ain’t Youtube the dawgz?

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I have always clicked with Steve Gadd’s work; it’s free, but still tight and he’s always interesting.  I guess the thing I admire most about Steve Gadd is that he gets away with doing what he does almost unnoticed!  Let’s face it, much of the work on “Aja” is a drum solo, yet people don’t even think of it that way!

In “Aja” and in “50 ways” you see the side of Gadd that pushes the drums into a new place — somewhere kinda equal to the other instruments, do you know what I mean? it’s no longer merely a beat or percussive feature, but as strong in the memory of the piece as the melody.  I would guess that most folk who know the song would recognise “50 ways” as soon as Gadd’s drum line is heard!

The drum lines in these tunes are intrinsic — without the Steve Gadd drum lines, these tunes would be radically altered (and much lessened).  The drumming is very much part and parcel of the tune and the arrangement, and in that respect Gadd was part of that movement from the late 1970s to elevate drumming to new heights.

In that, he was probably in the same movement (for want of a better word) as the likes of Billy Cobham, Lenny White, and Bill Bruford.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these clips of a truly great musician as much as I did.