Larry Carlton

Larry Eugene Carlton was born March 2, 1948 in California.  He began playing guitar at six, developing an interest in jazz when he was in high school.   At fourteen, he was performing in local supper clubs. 

During the 1970s, Carlton was one of the busiest session guitarists in Southern California, doing up to 500 recordings a year.  Among the artists who sought him out were Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Dolly Parton,  John Lennon, Quincy Jones – even The Partridge Family!

In 1988, Carlton was the victim of a random shooting outside of his studio.  Despite significant nerve trauma, he made a full recovery and went on to complete the album he was working on at the time [Solid Ground].  For several years after the accident, he was active in a foundation to assist victims of random violence.

Besides his huge catalog of solo acoustic and electric work, Carlton is a member of smooth jazz supergroup, Fourplay, having replaced Lee Ritenour in 1997.

He currently lives in Nashville with his wife, Christian singer Michelle Pillar.


  • Played the searing guitar solo on the theme to the TV show, "Hill Street Blues" (1981), winning a Grammy Award.

  • Is uncle to singer Vanessa Carlton.He was an early member of The Crusaders and toured with the Fifth Dimension.

  • He played "Larry Guitar" on a children's TV show called "Mrs. Alphabet."

  • His guitar solo on Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne" is considered the third best guitar solo on record [Rolling Stone].

  • In 2007, Carlton released, The Jazz King, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Thailand's King Bhumibol's accession to the throne as well as his 80th birthday [the king is a fan of Carlton's and is considered an accomplished jazz musician himself].


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