Spreading His Solo Wings

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

He has appeared on stage alongside Paul McCartney and played on the albums of some of the music industry’s top names.  He has contributed music to movies such as “Men in Black II” and “Good Will Hunting,” and TV series including “Roseanne” and “Beverly Hills 90210”.   He is regarded as one of the world’s finest acoustic fingerstyle guitarists, and the Martin Guitar Company has issued a Signature Model guitar in his honor.  His name is Laurence Juber and this Thursday he plays a solo show at Henfling’s Firehouse Tavern in Ben Lomond.

Although he now lives in Los Angeles, Laurence Juber is a third-generation Cockney, born in Stepney in London’s East End. He first picked up the guitar when he was 11 years old.  “My parents bought me my first guitar for my 11th birthday,” he said.  “It was a cheap acoustic and it wasn’t a very good one, but it was wonderful to me.  I used to practice for ages and constantly try to learn new things.  Around this time the Beatles came out and I loved them.”

Juber began to earn money playing music at age 13, when a local band leader began to take him out to play at weddings and parties.  He realized that this would be a nice way to earn a living, and formed a band with some friends from school, playing cover versions of the hit singles of the time.  Unfortunately, the band did not last long, and at age 16 Juber decided to try to get some more musical experience by working as a session guitarist.  It wasn’t long before he was offered the chance to join a band that was about to get a record contract and go on an extended tour.  He agonized over the decision as to whether to join, finally opting to stay in school and continue his studio work in his spare time.  Eventually Juber graduated from London University with a degree in music, while at the same time gaining a solid reputation as a studio guitarist.

In 1978, Juber was working on a weekly TV music show.  One week, the guest was Denny Laine from Wings.  Recalled Juber, “I guess he remembered me because six months later I got a phone call asking me to jam with Denny and, ‘by the way Paul and Linda (McCartney) will be there…’”  At the audition, Juber jammed with the band for a while and then McCartney asked him what he was doing for the next year.  “I thought it over for about a nanosecond,” he said, “I took it because you don’t turn down that kind of job.”

Juber played on the Wings album “Back to the Egg” and its accompanying tour.  After McCartney folded Wings in 1981, Juber relocated to Los Angeles where he resumed his studio career while raising a family with his wife Hope.  He released his first solo CD, “Solo Flight” in 1990 and has released albums regularly since then, including the best-selling “LJ Plays the Beatles” (2000).  He was named Fingerstyle Guitarist of the Year in 1999, and continues to tour internationally.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, February 5, 2004

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