Back in 1984, GP sat down for an extensive interview with Toto man and session electric guitar king Steve Lukather.
In the conversation, Lukather discussed his time with Toto – at the time fresh off the success of their hit single Rosanna, and a little song you might've heard of called Africa – the importance of pairing any sort of guitar playing with strong songwriting, and his rapid rise to the top of the session guitar hierarchy.
Lukather also discussed the players who most influenced him, one of them being Larry Carlton.
The following is an excerpt from that interview, which originally appeared in the April 1984 issue of Guitar Player.
“I realized it was okay to play a bad note when I saw Larry Carlton at Donte's six years ago,” Lukather said. “He broke his E string and pulled it off, and everybody was looking at him like 'Oh, no.' Then he took his clippers and clipped off the B and G strings and played a killer solo on the low three strings!
“I was on my knees with my mouth open, going 'Huh?' He was cracking up, and he was blowing through the changes with a fully built solo. Then I heard him hit a bad note, and he didn't even flinch. It was like, 'I'm blowing, man, I'm going for it. It doesn't matter. It's okay to make a mistake.' Nobody winced.
“See, the worst thing you can do is make a face, because then all you're thinking about for the next ten bars is how badly you blew it in bar two. Inevitably you'll make another mistake because your mind is tripping out. You can psych yourself out as a player – everybody has. If you are nervous and make a mistake, then you go to pieces. You start breaking the guitar or biting the neck with your teeth! Somebody told me, 'If you make a mistake, do it twice. Then they'll think you did it on purpose.'”
Elsewhere in the interview, Lukather discusses how Carlton's playing expanded his musical horizons, and what he thought was possible within the confines of rock guitar playing.
“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. The only other person who moved me that much was Hendrix,” Lukather said.
“Carlton had the rock and roll sound, but he was playing in and out of changes like a bebop player would. My mind was messed! I went, 'Yeah, that's what I want to do!' I played around town and got to meet him, and he was always very nice to me.”
To read more of GP's 1984 interview with Lukather, step right this way.
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