Three Rivers Commercial News | Robert Tomlinson, Staff Writer
Laurence Juber, a former lead guitarist of the 1970s rock band Wings, will be performing at the Riviera Theatre in Three Rivers on Saturday, June 15.
Juber was the third and final lead guitarist of the Paul McCartney-fronted band from 1978 to 1981. He said he first became fascinated by music and the guitar during the height of Beatlemania in the 1960s.
“I started playing guitar in November of 1963, which was the cresting wave of Beatlemania in England,” Juber said in an interview with the Commercial-News. “The guitar was a very cool instrument, and I really wanted to get my hands on one. I got one for my 11th birthday, and I never put it down.”
As a teenager, he said, he played small gigs and weddings to start, and soon became a member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Afterwards, he went to London’s Goldsmith’s College to study music and take classical guitar lessons. However, Juber said he had bigger plans for his career.
“My ambition was to be a studio musician, and after college, I went straight into studio work in the mid-70s in London,” Juber said. His first notable work post-college was playing the theme to the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me,” which he said was a “very cool thing.”
Juber joined Wings in 1978, he said, based on a random encounter he had with Denny Laine, a founding member of Wings, on a television show he was working on.
“As a studio musician, I was working on a television show with an English pop star named David Essex. Denny Laine, who was one of the founding members of Wings, was a guest on the show. He liked my playing and said that Wings were looking for another guitarist,” Juber said. “About six months later I got a call to audition.”
Juber said he had plenty of good experiences playing with Wings, and that playing with McCartney, a former Beatle, was “a pretty remarkable thing in and of itself.” He also said he learned a lot about the business from McCartney.
“I learned what it was like to be an artist, I learned hot to make record from a producer perspective, and I learn about the whole mechanism of the record business and how to promote things,” Juber said. “All around, it was an education, and I think of it as getting my master’s degree from McCartney University.”
Juber was with Wings when the band won a Grammy award for their instrumental track, “Rockestra Theme,” in 1980. Juber said that the band didn’t know they won the Grammy until it showed up in the mail.
“Nobody even told us we were nominated. I got a box in the mail at one point, and I couldn’t figure out what it was, and then it dawned on me it was a Grammy,” Juber said. “I called up the management, and I said, ‘Did we win a Grammy?’ And they said, ‘Oh yeah, we forgot to tell you.’ It was an odd situation.”
During his solo career, Juber also won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental for his arrangement of “The Pink Panther Theme” for a compilation album of songs by American composer Henry Mancini.
After Wings, he moved from London to New York City, where he met his future wife, Hope. Both moved back to her native California, where Juber said he got into doing television and movie sessions. In his career, he’s done guitar for shows such as “Happy Days,” “Family Ties” and “Home Improvement,” and he’s played guitar on songs such as Belinda Carlisle’s “Mad About You,” and “Time of My Life” and “She’s Like the Wind” from the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack.
While he was doing that, Juber said he also developed his solo repertoire, and he has released over 25 solo albums in his career.
Juber said audiences will enjoy a wide variety of music during his concert at the Riviera.
“I play one guitar, but I also play all of the parts, so you hear the melody, bass, and rhythm,” Juber said. “My repertoire is very broad. I’ve done three albums of arrangements of Beatles songs. My latest album is a collection of standards, and I write my own material, so there’s some original melodic tunes, there’s some jazz, rock and roll, and some folk.”
Overall, Juber said the audience will have a good time, because of how he approaches concerts.
“In concert, I’m an entertainer first and guitarist second,” Juber said. “The guitar is my voice.”
The concert will be held Saturday, June 15 at 8 p.m. at the Riviera Theatre, with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.