Tuesday, April 24. 2007
I was studying with => Jimmy Wyble, who was brilliant. He really taught me a lot. I was a terrible student. I kept on going, "Yeah, I just want to be like Larry Carlton one day!" Jimmy would just look at me like, "Yeah, right. Buddy, your reading is a joke. Get it together [laughs]." [...] Then I heard Carlton, and that changed things. He was doing what I wanted to do. All I did, basically, was just turn my amps up louder than Larry does. But now I don't play anything like him; I don't want anyone to think I'm comparing myself to somebody that good. I loved the way he snuck in and out. His sound and Jay Graydon's really affected me.
On "Kid Charlemagne" [from Royal Scam]: I was into Larry when he was in the Crusaders, but I never heard him blow like on Steely Dan's Royal Scam album. Guitar-wise that album changed my whole life. (Guitar Player Magazine, April 1984) "... Hearing that sound - a rock sound playing through changes - struck a nerve with me. He was crancking up his Boogie amp and playing bebop lines with the blues in there, too. That's where all that chromaticism - trying to make an E minor scale sound a little more interesting - comes from. (Guitar One, Guitar School, December 2002)
Lukather and Carlton first collaborated on Larry Carlton's debut album:
I actually played organ on that first record. On "Night Crawler," there's a Hammond organ part on the bridge and that's me. Bastard didn't give me credit though! I was 18-years-old and it was when we'd just become friends. We were going to play poker that night and he goes, "I need someone to play the melody" and I said, "I play keyboards; I can do it." He goes, "Really? Well go ahead and do it." So I did it. It was only like eight bars. (Intermusic.com, February 2002)
25 years later, these two guitar giants reunited for "No Substitutions." They discussed their collaboration in a 2001 interview with All About Jazz Magazine:
You guys have known each other for about 25 years, and this is the first time you actually got together to play onstage?
Lukather: Yeah! Well, we did one little thing years ago, but that wasn't really playing together. We just played a song together in the 80s sometime. But this is playing together. Being with Larry was like going to school every night.
How did this tour come together in the first place?
Larry Carlton: I've been doing the Blue Note club in (Fukuoka) Japan for about the last 8 years. I'm fortunate that there's a large audience there who have followed my career. So after doing 3 or 4 years straight, every year going back and spending a month in Japan, I've become really good friends with the club owners. We had been trying to decide what kind of special project I could bring that would be a little bit different. And there's been talk over the few years about me and Joe Sample doing something, or me and Kirk Whalum doing something. So they called for that two years ago and said, "Let's do some kind of guitar thing," and Luke's name came up. I said, "Yeah! Let's do that." And it was as simple as that.
Lukather: They (the Blue Note) like to have strange combinations of people; well, not necessarily strange, but they like to keep it fresh. Something people would generally fantasize about but would not necessarily happen. So Larry called me on the phone out of nowhere. "Hey, Larry, how's it goin', bro?" He's been one of my heroes for most of my adult life. I always wanted to be like Larry Carlton when I was a kid. He used to let me hang out. Jeff Porcaro introduced us; I went to school with Jeff. He worked with David Foster, Jay Graydon and all these other guys I used to look up to when I was 18 years old. That was right after (Steely Dan's) The Royal Scam came out and changed my life. You know, I'd been a fan of The Crusaders and Larry's studio work, but that album in particular "I was like, "I wanna play like that guy!"
So you used to sit around and try to jam on "Kid Charlemagne"?
Lukather: Yeah! And we'd been friends, but then he moved to Nashville. Obviously we were still friends, but we just didn't see a lot of each other. And then out of the blue he says, "This is Larry. Do you want to go to Japan?" And I was like, "When do we leave?!" I was honored to be asked, because Larry... what can I say? Genius is all I can say.
Since collaborating on No Substitutions, Luke and Larry released a live DVD from the tour and were awarded a => Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Song for "Room 335."