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HIP Benefit to Mark the Return of Guitarist Carlton

Larry Carlton, the jazz guitarist who was shot in the neck in front of his Hollywood home by a still-unidentified assailant last April, returns to performing Friday night with a concert at the Universal Amphitheatre to benefit fellow victims of violent crimes.

The concert, which Carlton hopes will raise $50,000, will feature brief sets by a wide variety of pop-rock and jazz artists, including Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross, Stanley Jordan, Joni Mitchell, Lyle Lovett, Juice Newton and Michael Franks.

“I’m sure this is gonna be a real emotional night for me and for my fans, ‘cause they know I just about didn’t make it,” said Carlton, who won a Grammy for best pop instrumental performance in January and has played on popular albums by Barbra Streisand and Steely Dan, among others. “I still get probably 20 or 30 letters a week from people (wanting to know if I’m all right).

“So this is gonna be the night where I can (answer them): ‘I’m fine, my voice is weak, (but) I’m gonna play for you. I’m fine.’ ”

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In the freakish April 6 incident, Carlton, 40, was shot by one of two teen-agers who had followed a dog into the musician’s carport. Carlton lost the use of his left vocal cord and his left arm was paralyzed.

In an interview at the house in which he was shot (but which has since been converted into offices for his manager’s company), the guitarist said he is “easily 80% back” to performing capability. He is finishing work on a solo album, which he expects to be released in February, with a world tour to follow in April. He plans to perform throughout Friday’s show, both in his own jazz set and accompanying some of the special guests.

Through physical therapy he has also strengthened his voice by over-developing his remaining healthy vocal cord. But he said it’ll take three years for the arm and neck nerves to repair themselves fully.

Friday’s concert will raise funds for Helping Innocent People (HIP), a nonprofit organization started in May by Carlton and his manager, Charlie Lico, to raise awareness about the financial plight of crime victims and to help provide those victims with emergency funds for medical and living expenses and for property losses.

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Lico said he saw the need for such an organization when Carlton was still in the hospital and was facing more than $100,000 in medical, therapy and counseling expenses.

Although Lico’s management company was able to keep Carlton financially afloat until he was able to resume work in late September, they realized others might not be so fortunate.

“I said, ‘Larry, just imagine if you were an individual that didn’t have a support system, and you lost all your income for a year, and you didn’t have insurance,’ ” said Lico. “ ‘It would devastate you for years to come--and it’s not even your fault!’ ”

Their HIP organization will work with the Victims Assistance Program, a state agency that provides support services for victims of violent crimes, including robbery, rape and assault.

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“My children ask me, ‘Daddy, why did it have to happen to you?’ ” said Carlton, “And with no forethought, I told them, ‘Why not? I’m just another guy in this world, and if it could happen to me, it could happen to somebody else’s Daddy.’ It just happened to me. There’s no rhyme or reason for it, but it happens.”


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