Larry Miller (guitarist)
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Laurence Bond Miller is an American rock and avant garde guitarist, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States, who has formerly been a member of such Detroit/Ann Arbor bands as Destroy All Monsters, Sproton Layer, M3, Nonfiction, The Empty Set, and Larynx Zillion's Novelty Shop.
Destroy All Monsters, in particular, still a cult favorite, was a big part of the proto-punk, punk, and post-punk Detroit rock scene, featuring such bands as the MC5, the Stooges, and Up. "Of all those bands, at the time", Laurence told a local newspaper, "I think I had the most respect for The Five"—referring to the MC5. In the late 1980s, he enjoyed renewed commercial success with his single Southpaws Unite!, an unusual sort-of John Philip Sousa military-esque march crossed with an avant garde punk sensibility via the latest Techno Pop technology of the day.
Laurence plays guitar left-handed, "upside down"—that is, he takes a right-handed guitar and simply turns it the other way, without reversing the string order, in the manner best known as that of rock's all-time great Jimi Hendrix. That style, "if you want to call it a style", Laurence once told a local news reporter, arose more out of necessity than an attempt to imitate Hendrix. "I started out as a drummer and I didn't own a guitar", Laurence explained, "so whenever I would pick one up to play around with, it was always a right-handed instrument, and since it wasn't mine, I couldn't take the strings off and put them on backwards, I had to play it as is." Since Laurence began his career as a professional musician—a drummer, as he mentioned—at the age of 16, he had plenty of time and energy to learn a new instrument. In fact Laurence has made numerous recordings where he plays all the instruments himself, including woodwinds, keyboards, and various stringed instruments, in the manner of Todd Rundgren and Paul McCartney.
Laurence, who was sometimes also known as Larry, comes from an interesting family background. All of his family members were either musicians or scientists. He is the younger brother of Roger Miller, a founding and current member of the Boston-based Mission of Burma, the twin brother of Benjamin (Ben) Miller, also a former member of Destroy All Monsters. Both of Laurence's parents were scientists and professors at the University of Michigan. His father was well known in the field of paleo-ichthyology. He also has a brother who is a well-respected professor and glaciologist, and a sister (now deceased) who was also a scientist and a professor.
Laurence grew up in Ann Arbor, attended public schools, and graduated from Pioneer High School. He went to college at the Boston School of Contemporary Music, finishing up at Thomas Jefferson State College before retiring completely from the academic scene.
Laurence has collaborated with his brother Roger Miller from time to time, particularly on the M3 project, named for the three Miller brothers, but he has collaborated with his twin Ben most consistently over the years, particularly through the 1980s and early 1990s. Since Ben is a right-hander and Laurence is a left-hander and they collaborated mostly as a power trio by adding a drummer, the team had a rather powerful visual stage presence — the guitar and bass each pointing outward, away from the centrally positioned drummer. In Nonfiction, for example, Laurence and Ben would typically trade off on bass and guitar, with each preferring to play guitar on his own compositions. When Nonfiction folded, Laurence formed The Empty Set, and then later in the 1990s creating Larynx Zillion's Novelty Shop.
In 1999, Laurence reinvented himself as a children's entertainer. During this time he produced seven original children's CDs. Mister Laurence performed "live" along with original backing tracks, The Play Money Band, taken from his recordings. Material was officially rated CG, childrental guidance strongly suggested, ages 2 thru 200. Ten years later, Ms. Princess Melinda (his new wife) joined the group on keyboard and vocals. The name then expanded to The Mister Laurence Experience. Shortly thereafter, Melinda created a third member for the group, her mechanical animatronic brainchild ~ OSO the Drumming Bear. The three have since recorded two original CDs, and produced five award winning music videos on a shoe-string-budget, as well as a community television children's variety show. Continuing the tradition of playing along to a skeletal sound track, the band performs their brand of original quirky kids music to this day, throughout SE Michigan.
Laurence has three daughters, Tara, Ashia, and Brittany, from his relationship with their late mother, Donna Sevakis.