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Here's a great video about a vibe player I knew nothing about. However he plays great and is a great guy.

But I'll let John Keene tell the story, it's a bit tragic. John turned me onto the video.


Piper Sat, 08/30/2014 - 16:41

This is so humbling. What insight into the world of humble musicians. Just that scene of him carrying a vibe and a bassist carrying a bass up the stairs speaks volumes!

Piper Sat, 08/30/2014 - 16:49

In reply to by Piper

This just keeps getting better and better. "get them (the audience) to feel they are there even when they don't know where there is". This guy is a genius.

Marvel Sat, 08/30/2014 - 19:08

I couldn't help but laugh when he was playing that one percussion instrument with the bow, though (anyone know what it's called?). Here are a bunch of people trying to drink and have pleasant conversation while this dude is screeching right next to them.

I like what he said about already being there when people would say, "When you make it ..." Such a great outlook. Certainly far too many of us rely on "counting" (as he said) for our happiness, whether that be over material goods or otherwise. As musicians I think the general public expects us to be above that sort of thinking, but sometimes musicians are worse than anyone for it.


HaukeRenken Sat, 08/30/2014 - 19:31

beautiful playing! does any one know if there are records of him? would love to hear more...

John Keene Sun, 08/31/2014 - 09:00

Some of you old hippies out there might remember a San Francisco band from 1968 called It's A Beautiful Day, and they had a massive FM hit called "White Bird." Very innovative song, classic album cover, featured electric violin plus interesting two-part vocal harmony, and several other songs from that same album became classics of the era. Like most groups of that time, personnel changed as they continued on. When I decided to check out their current activities online around 2003, I discovered to my amazement that they hired a vibes player in 1998 who played with them through 2002. Basically, they replaced their departing keyboard player with someone who played the MalletKat. Larry had a memorial page dedicated to him.

Over this past summer, one of the local blues bands played "White Bird" at my city's summer blues fest, which I thought was pretty bold to do at a blues festival. So I returned to that page on Larry and was directed to the link to this video, and that filled in a lot of his story.

One thing that has drawn my attention is how a lot of these San Francisco musicians who played in those bands had a lot of classical training - Phil Lesh and Tom Constanten with the Grateful Dead, and Larry was about a decade younger than those guys. It reminded me of an exchange that David Friedman and I had at the old Vibenet about a decade ago regarding our agreement on the value of a solid classical background regardless of what kind of music you wind up playing the most. And I think that Larry's resume bears this out; it appears that he could play jazz and classical music and obviously progressive rock with a lot of authority.

Tragically, Larry was murdered in his apartment at age 53 for little or no apparent motive, and here is a link to Larry's memorial page:

I think that each of us will have differing perspectives as to how we interpret what he has to say, and I'll chime in later as more people offer their comments.

Otto Sun, 08/31/2014 - 10:39

wow, that went great with breakfast.
what an inspirational way to begin the day.

rogersvibes Sun, 08/31/2014 - 13:00

Wow what great guy and musician (I imagine he wouldn't think of those two things as distinct, eh?) The video manages to make you feel like you know the guy personally in 30 mins.

Aside: anybody pause it at 4:15 to read the letter? Is that a vibraphone stamp? Where do I get one of those?

piro Mon, 09/01/2014 - 00:20

Dudes Man,
Thanks so much for posting this. Larry was my first vibes teacher back in the eighties. He was a super hip cat, and was really sure of himself and he was so helpful. He played a 4 octave Bergerault vibe because he loved the bass notes and playing all over it. I wish I had been able to appreciate his specialness more back then when I was a kid (16-17) I still have his album, great modern music, he had a really great trio, super interactive.
I remember when Larry opened for Gary Burton in San Francisco in the early eighties, I helped him load in and got to hang for the show (Steve Swallow just killed it that day, I remember him sitting smoking just tearing it up.)
Larry lived in San Leandro in the East Bay, after I went to Berklee I lost touch with him, and later heard that he had been shot and killed. So great to hear him here holding forth and playing. Thanks for posting it.

tonymiceli Wed, 12/29/2021 - 16:50

this is one to watch if you haven't seen it. Larry Blackshere I think was an interesting and great player. Very sad ending here. How he died was tragic. I forget if it's in the video or in the comments. I think in the video.

Oliver_M37 Wed, 12/29/2021 - 22:46

Amazing!! Pretty mind-blowing on all ends. His playing (and speaking) is incredible! Now I just wish I could have a lesson with him. Tragic story.

tonymiceli Thu, 01/06/2022 - 21:54

I also like that his sound and approach to me makes the vibraphone sound like a really unique instrument separated from the others. I think a great guitar does the same thing with the guitar, makes it sound special.

I think Larry makes the vibes sound special.


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