Larry Carlton is a veteran at interviews so I tried to come up with questions he may not have been asked. When asked about some life lessons learned over the years.
Lexi: Mr Carlton now I had the hardest time trying to come up with some questions for you because you are so accomplished in everything and Iʼm going what am I gonna ask this man that he probably hasnʼt been asked 5000 times before. So Iʼve come up with some questions and hopefully some of them are unique. So what I wanna know from you ﬁrst off is what are some life lessons youʼve learned over the years?
Larry: Humility for sure would be at the top of my list. I think most of us when we’re younger we go through a season where our ego gets too big and I think an important lessons to have somebody put that ego back in check. And I went through that period probably in my teens a little bit (coughs) excuse me, and um yeah I learned keep your mouth shut Larry. Everybody’s great be a nice guy ah so I learned that lesson kinda early on and I’m glad I did
Lexi: Um hmm and is that something that you share now with your family and other musicians or?
Larry: Yes absolutely. My son Travis Carlton umm Travis is 31 years old now and hes a professional bass player. He’ll be at the festival with me. He plays with me and he plays with Robin Ford and he plays with Scott Henderson. He’s over in Italy right now. Anyway, my son has adopted that philosophy also, when you meet him you’ll see that he’s just a really nice guy very humble but plays great!
Lexi: (Laughs) Wonderful, wonderful. Now youʼve got multiple Grammy nominations, four Grammy awards or so over 100 gold albums I read. What does LC want to achieve next?
Larry: Wow, um (pause) You know I don’t think I have an achievement I’m going for because I’m at that period in my life where I’m really just very very thankful that people still want to hear me play after all these years because I’m still so passionate about playing the guitar
Lexi: Um hmm, um hmm, ok. Then what do you feel then is your greatest accomplishment.
Larry: I think like most people I’d have to say their children. Both of my kids are just, Katie is an angel, she’s 33 and Travis as i mentioned is 31. Katie has 2 little girls they’re 11 years old and 9 years old and um I spend a lot of time with them. They call me papa guitar. (Lexi laughs) and so that one’s still in progress having to get the inﬂuence the grand babies
Lexi: (Laughing) Yeah and I bet you melt every time they say papa guitar. Larry: Oh yeah, oh yeah Lexi: Um If you were required to change one thing in your life and not ever do it again, what would that be?
Larry: Umm (pause) I guess the ﬁrst thing that came to my mind was I never then would have started smoking cigarettes.
Lexi: Umm Larry: Um hmm! Lexi: (Laughing) Now have are you still smoking cigarettes?
Larry: I am, yes
Lexi: Um hmm. Do you think youʼre ever gonna quit(laughing)
Larry: Oh boy let’s hope so (Lexi Laughing)
Lexi: Letʼs hope you do! Now umm outside of music, what do you like to do?
Larry: I like to trout ﬁsh, I like to go stream ﬁshing.(coughing) When i have time off that’s what I usually choose to do is um put on the waders and go out in a stream and ﬁsh all day
Lexi: Um hmm, ok! Now youʼve been in several thousand recording sessions, numerous concerts. What do you do if anything to keep your arms, hands and ﬁngers in performance ready condition?
Larry: You know I don’t really do anything special. Umm, obviously as I take time off my technique is going to diminish some but Ive found that Ive been playing the guitar so long that um the interaction between me and the guitar comes back very quickly. So i never have been one to practice, in fact Im the guy who takes off a month to 3 months during the year and never touches the guitar then I’m really excited and fresh when I come back to it
Lexi: Wow, ok! Now, you created an organization called Helping Innocent people, why?
Larry: That organization lasted about 3 years and they, we had to let it go because it was taking up so much time but it was very effective for the years we had it
Lexi: And you created that as a result of what? Why did you create that Helping Innocent People?
Larry: Yeah I was the victim of a random shooting outside my home in LA and um I was an innocent victim of a violent crime and Im very fortunate that I survived. I uh, I only have one vocal chord that functions, I’m glad I can speak because the bullet went into my neck so out of that experience I started helping innocent people a non proﬁt organization to raise money that could be distributed immediately to victims of a innocent victims of a violent crime
Lexi: Uh, wow! Well Im certainly glad that your still here and that you can still speak as well!
Larry: Thank you
Lexi: I also read in your bio and I was so excited when I saw this that you won a Grammy in 81 for the theme song for Hillstreet Blues and as soon as I read that Im going your kidding me, he did that? And Iʼm like ooh, the music just popped in my head immediately. So my question is have you done any other TV theme songs in your career and if you have can you name a few and tell me your favorite and why?
Larry: Yeah well as you mentioned I played on the theme song to HIllstreet Blues Um you know I’ll remind you that I only did sessions back in the 70’s for a living so any TV shows that I did would be back in that era so some people may not remember some of these shows but I played guitar on the Streets of San Francisco ah ha another one that Tom Scott arranged was Toma, I played on that series. Boy I’m having to go way back, I know there’s a bunch more
Lexi: (Laughing) Didnʼt know you were gonna have a question like that? Yeah I haven’t thought of those sessions in a long time
Larry: So those are the ones that come to mind right now but I’m sure there’s a dozen more
Lexi: Yeah, yeah. Now talk to me a little bit about your time with The Crusaders, just an overview The Crusaders, Fourplay and some other folk youʼve worked with.
Larry: Sure. I was a new session player back in 1970’s, then in 1971 I was on a session and Joe Sample happened to be the keyboard player. He um, before the session while I was setting up my guitar Joe started playing acoustic piano and i kinda joined in with Joe and we just kinda made some music there before the session started. that was a Friday night, Monday morning my phone rang and it was The Crusaders ofﬁce wondering if i could come record for two weeks with the Crusaders they were already in the studio and that’s how it started. And um, I think I did about 13 albums with the guys over the course of 6 years. Great experience, I was about 23 years old at the time so they really helped shape me as a soul player. band leader, how to act in the studio to get your music done and I’m really thankful for that time that I spent with the Crusaders. And then I think it was 1998 if I’m not mistaken that um I got a phone call and it was Bob James and I’d only met Bob once before that and um so we said hello obviously and he said well i’m calling because I have this group that’s three play and we’re wondering if you would like to make it FourPlay again. So I was invited to join Fourplay and I stayed with them for 12 years and again, to play with three of the worlds greatest musicians and three of the worlds nicest guys was nothing except a positive experience
Lexi: Wow, thatʼs wonderful. Now if I were to ask you about a song title ok, what song title best describes you or represents your life?
Larry: (long pause) Sorry, nothing comes, nothing comes to mind so I wouldn’t want to make something up. I like to name it but if it comes to me emotionally then I could say it to you but nothing really came, yeah
Lexi: Thatʼs ok. Now besides your music, what are you passionate about?
Larry: I would say family like most people would say but I really mean it thats number one on my list and um compassionate also more over the last ten or twelve years about teaching. Yeah I’ve had the opportunity to do a number of teaching dvd’s and then I travel and I do master classes especially in Europe. And it’s always fun to take my experience and share it with other guitar enthusiast. they’re not all young men some of them are in their forties that love to play. But yeah, I can tell stories about my career and inspire them, maybe give them words of wisdom. I’m very much enjoying that
Lexi: What is something that a student has said to you that really just touched your heart after a lesson from you?
Larry: Hmm, I can’t remember any quotes
Lexi: Speaking of quotes do you have a philosophy that you live by or a quote that you like that you like to share with folk?
Larry: I do especially I share this with the musicians and this is on one of my teaching dvd’s and it just came to me during the shoot. I didn’t have it before and I didn’t make it up for the shoot. So I’m closing the dvd so I’m obviously talking to guitar players, and the words came to me “practice what you must but play what you love!” And the reason I tell them that is because you need to have everything together do your practicing but when you play what you love it gives the listener the honest chance to really hear who you are and what your music is and then they can judge it honestly but if you’re up there trying to impress somebody then the audience is gonna get that to. So play what you love and thats an honest giving of your music
Lexi: Hmm, hmm nice! And the last thing, your performing at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, what can the audience expect from you? Larry: Well I’m bringing my quartet and umm they can expect to hear a number of their favorite Larry Carlton songs but they’ll also hear us stretch out a lot more than I do on the smooth jazz records. So it’s usually a very interesting show for the people that come to see me because they will hear a number of the tunes that they thought they would hear but they’ll also get to hear us really stretch out
Lexi: Umm, ok, well I certainly do appreciate your time today.
Larry: A pleasure
Lexi: Now let me turn this recorder off