Listen for Laurence Juber
By Naughty Mickie
Promotional Photo for Narada Records - 1999 by Irene Young
The guitar and Laurence Juber have had a rewarding relationship, the kind that will go down in the history of music.
Juber has played with artists such as Alan Parsons, Rosemary Clooney, Barry Manilow, the Osmonds and the Monkees. He has performed and composed for soundtracks for films like "Dirty Dancing,'' "The Big Chill'' and "Pocahontas'' and the television shows "Three Sisters'' and "Seventh Heaven.''
Juber was also a member of the on-camera band in "The Young and the Restless'' and even more of his work can be heard at Disney theme parks around the world. While in Paul McCartney's Wings, he won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental for his work on "Rocksestra.'' It appears that there isn't anyone who hasn't been touched by Juber in some way.
Juber grew up in London and his parents gave him his first guitar, an acoustic, when he was 11.
"I felt kind of vindicated,'' Juber said. "I thought my dad wanted me to be a sax player.''
Previously, it had been a birthday tradition for Juber to receive a recorder each year in hopes that he would take to the wind instrument. At one point he even agreed to learn clarinet at school, but then found out that there weren't enough clarinets to go around.
"By the time I was 13, my goal was to become a professional musician,'' said Juber.
Juber's parents wanted him to pursue a career as an accountant or pharmacist, but he was already able to make a steady income with the guitar. After graduating from high school, he took one year off to play professionally before college so he could be sure of what he wanted to do. Juber went on to college and kept playing to pay his way.
Juber's talent led him to the life of a sessions player which he loved because each day was different. While performing with David Essex ("Rock On'') on BBC television, he was spotted by Denny Lane of Wings who recommended him to Paul McCartney.
Juber moved to New York, stepped into Wings and remained with the group until their breakup. He recounts his time in Wings as one of his favorite memories, Juber said he felt honored to "work with one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century'' while learning the music business and how to have a happy family life.
After Wings, Juber stayed in New York, once again working as a sessions artist and creating ad jingles. During this time, Juber met his future wife, Hope, who lived in Los Angeles. He decided to move to the west coast.
By the 1980s, Juber was much sought after for his talents, but he chose to stay close to home and help raise his daughters, Nico and Ilsey, rather than go out on the road. He worked on a variety of projects and, by 1990, released his first lone effort, "Solo Flight.'' He has since recorded over 10 albums, including, "LJ Plays the Beatles!. Laurence Juber's Solo Guitar Arrangements of Beatle Songs.''
Juber notes that there is a big difference in music appreciation between Europeans and Americans-- Europeans have more eclectic taste, while Americans define their taste by what's on the radio. He goes on to explain that radio is very corporate and structured now which is limiting, but the Internet is helping to change things in its own way.
"The Internet has created a music business middle class that didn't exist before, there was no way to reach people. But now you can do a lot of business on your own," Juber explains. "I'm a big fan of what the Internet has to offer."
In addition to his sessions and solo work, Juber also spends time playing with the band Blueshead, which often takes the stage at Yesteryears in Pomona, as well as teaching master music classes and working with the Guitars in the Classroom program (www.guitarsinttheclassroom.com).
"I like to teach,'' explains Juber. "I like to give back what I've learned.''
Juber laughs as he recounts how the elementary school children he plays for in Guitars in the Classroom don't recognize any of his work from Wings. But they sure perk up when he plays the theme song to "Home Improvement'' and some tunes from "Pocahontas.''
And, as if his plate isn't full enough, Juber and his wife have wrote the score for "Gilligan's Island. The Musical,'' which premiered at the Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks, California this past August.
For all his fame, Juber remains humble and is still pleased to receive letters asking if he's the guitarist playing the background music at Animal Kingdom in Florida and other Disney parks.
"My goal is to have an identifiable voice,'' he said.
Juber does, everywhere, just listen.
For more information visit www.laurencejuber.com.
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