Larry Carlton Biography

2 March 1948, Torrance, California, USA. Often cited as the ‘guitarist’s guitarist’, Carlton has courted rock, jazz and acoustic new age with considerable success. The former member of the Crusaders carved a career during the 70s as a sought-after session musician. His profile improved following some outstanding, fluid playing over a number of years with Steely Dan (in particular, his solo on ‘Kid Charlemagne’ from 1976’s The Royal Scam). His distinctive ‘creamy’ Gibson 335 guitar sound was heard on countless records and his work on numerous Joni Mitchell albums probably contributed to their success, with notable examples including Court And Spark and Hejira. His major label debut appeared in 1978. It was not until Sleepwalk, including its title track (formerly a hit for Santo And Johnny), that Carlton was fully accepted as a solo artist in his own right. Alone But Never Alone found Carlton playing acoustic guitar and the record proved a critical and commercial success. Both that album and Discovery broadened Carlton’s following. The live Last Nite, however, saw a return to his jazz roots, and contained flashes of breathtaking virtuosity, in particular on his stand-out version of Miles Davis’ ‘So What’.

Carlton demonstrated a stronger rock influence with On Solid Ground, producing a credible cover version of Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’ and Steely Dan’s ‘Josie’. He was awarded a Grammy in 1981 and again in 1987 for his version of ‘Minute By Minute’. The following year Carlton was shot in the neck by an intruder at his studio. After an emergency operation and many months of physiotherapy he made a full recovery. Carlton joined the GRP Records stable in 1991 and found a home that perfectly suited his music. His duet with labelmate Lee Ritenour in 1995 was wholly satisfying, and boded well for future collaborations. During the late 90s Carlton replaced Ritenour in the smooth jazz group Fourplay. His 2001 live album with Steve Lukather was noteworthy. Carlton remains a master musician with a catalogue of accessible and uplifting music that occasionally catches fire.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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