We were both born on March 2nd. At 67 years young, he is nine years older than I am. I spent years listening to his playing and years learning how toÂ sound like him.
On some of his early recordings, he used a Gibson 335 and a Tweed Deluxe. The important thing about Larry’s playing is not just the type of guitar or the point of breakup with an amp but his touch, his dynamics and his passion. If you want to find great tone, Larry Carlton is a great role model.
When I was doing some research about his tone, I came across the story of his shooting and how it impacted his life.
It was 1988.
The bullet was fired by a young man on a bicycle passing by his North Hollywood studio. The bullet tore through Carlton”™s carotid artery and destroyed much of his vocal chord. For roughly 8 months, he also lost the use of his left arm.
How did the shooting effect his playing? This was from an interview he did with Premier Guitar:
Going through and then coming out of that tragic event when I was shot did leave me a different man ”“ I was a different person once I had healed. I didn”™t know it at the time, it wasn”™t a revelation, like, “Oh I”™m a new guy! I just made it through a shooting.” It really came out through conversation.
One conversation that I remember specifically was with my son Travis, who was just turning five at the time. Once I was well enough, well into the process of healing, he and I had a conversation. He said, “Dad, why did they have to shoot you?” And the truth, I think, comes at those moments when you are relating to your children, and what came through my spirit and out through my mouth was, “Trav, why not me? I”™m just another daddy in this world.” And what I realized after I spoke those words and time went by, is that although I”™m very talented at playing the guitar, let”™s set the guitar down and really understand who we are as people in this world. I truly believe I am just a guy in this world going through the process with everyone else, who just happens to play the guitar. After the shooting and after going through the recovery, people observed a difference in the way I played the guitar. They heard things that I didn”™t even know I was doing ”“ not technical things, but passionate, emotional things. After I would play a solo or after the show, a number of people would come up and say, “I”™ve never heard you play the guitar like that.” Those emotional events somehow brought out a deeper side of Larry Carlton the musician. And once I was aware, I felt the difference as a player. So yes, I was a different man and a different guitar player after being shot and recovering, and it showed up in my performance.