Larry Eugene Carlton (born March 2, 1948) is an American guitarist who built his career as a studio musician in the 1970s and ’80s for acts such as Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell. He has participated in thousands of recording sessions, recorded on hundreds of albums in many genres, for television and movies, and on more than 100 gold records. He has been a member of the jazz fusion groups The Crusaders and Fourplay and has maintained a long solo career.
Carlton was born in Torrance, California in 1948 and at the age of six began guitar lessons. His interest in jazz came from hearing guitarist Joe Pass on the radio. From Pass he moved on to jazz guitarists Barney Kessel and Wes Montgomery and blues guitarist B.B. King. He went to junior college and Long Beach State College while playing professionally at clubs in Los Angeles.
During the 1970s, he found steady work as a studio musician on electric and acoustic guitar in a variety of genres: pop, jazz pop, rock, rhythm and blues, soul and country. Carlton appeared on hundreds of recording sessions with Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Bobby Bland, Sammy Davis, Jr., Paulinho Da Costa, the Fifth Dimension, Herb Alpert, Christopher Cross, Dolly Parton, Andy Williams, and the Partridge Family. In 1982 he appeared on The Nightfly by Donald Fagen, lead singer for Steely Dan.