Saturday, March 03, 2007

Happy Birthday, Larry Carlton !

Guitarist Larry Carlton is celebrating his 59th birthday today, March 2nd. The busy musician was recently nominated for two Grammys, one for his solo album, 2005's Firewire, and the other for the most recent album by Fourplay, titled X.

Born in Torrance, California, Carlton is a veteran musician whose versatility and skill has landed him on recordings by Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, The Crusaders, Herb Alpert, Quincy Jones, and many others.

In 1968, he launched his solo career with the album With A Little Help From My Friends. Three years later, he joined the Crusaders and remained with the group until 1976. In 1978 came Carlton's self-titled album for Warner Brothers. He released a series of well-received albums throughout the 1980s and earned two Grammy Awards: one, in 1981, with composer Mike Post for the theme from the television show Hill Street Blues, and the other in 1987 for his tune "Minute By Minute."

In 1988, Carlton became the victim of a random act of gun violence. While working on his album On Solid Ground, he was shot in the throat by juvenile delinquents. Carlton was badly injured but managed to recover by means of intensive therapy.

A member of Fourplay since 1998, Carlton replaced original member Lee Ritenour on the 4 album.

He earned a 2001 Grammy Award for No Substitutions: Live In Osaka, with guitarist Steve Lukather, and explored the blues on his 2004 album Sapphire Blue.

More recently, Carlton produced a Christmas album for his wife, Christian singer and songwriter Michele Pillar. The set was released for the holidays late last year. And in January, Carlton performed a special concert commemorating the 60th anniversary of the King of Thailand's ascension to the throne. The King himself, who is known as The Jazz King, also penned a number of songs that Carlton performed at the show in Bangkok.

Carlton says he doesn't feel pressured to play or compose every day; in fact, as he explains, spending time away from music helps his creativity: "There are times when I won't touch the guitar for two months during the year. If the tour ends and I don't have a project to start, I don't just sit around and play the guitar. I live my life and then, when it's time to make music again -- either compose or play the guitar -- I find that I'm fresh and I'm excited and I'm not resentful that I've had to play every day. I don't practice, which I should -- everybody should -- but I get away from it and live my life."

For more on Carlton, including projects and tour dates, go to

By: Janine Coveney -

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