Lawrence Eugene Carlton (born 2 March 1948) is an American jazz fusion, pop, and rock guitarist and a singer, from Torrance, California. He has divided his recording time between solo recordings and session appearances with various well-known bands. Over his career, Carlton has won three Grammy Awards for his performances and compositions, including the theme music for the hit television series, Hill Street Blues (1981).
Carlton started learning to play guitar when he was six years old, studying under Slim Edwards near his Torrance, California home. Taking an interest in jazz while at high school, his playing style was most influenced by guitarists Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel, and B. B. King. Saxophonist John Coltrane has also made a notable impression on Carlton, and Carlton's live albums have featured cuts from Miles Davis's hallmark Kind of Blue.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Carlton was a busy session musician in Los Angeles, making up to five hundred recordings a year, including albums by Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, The Four Tops, the Partridge Family, and Charly García's Clics Modernos. His loopy, dazzling guitar work on Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne" from their 1976 LP The Royal Scam has been listed as the third best guitar solo on record by Rolling Stone Magazine. From 1971 to 1976 he played with the jazz-rock group The Crusaders. In 1977 he signed with Warner Bros. Records for a solo career....