Born and raised in Cornwall, Larry Johns has earned a living as a soldier, an artist, a jazz musician, a music lecturer and a writer, circumnavigating the world in these professions many times. He learned the mechanics of one of his trades with the Staff Band of the Royal Engineers and at Kneller Hall School of Music. He learned the mechanics of his other trades in other branches of the military and, of course, the wider school of life.
After his stint in the military he moved directly to London, where he occupied the lead saxophone chair with several big bands, whilst jazzing at many nightspots; most notably ; The "100 Club", Oxford Street; the "Allnighter", Soho and "The Bull's Head" at Barnes.
At these and other venues he blew jazz shoulder-to-shoulder with Vic Ash, Harry Klein, Brian Dee, Joe Temperley et al. One of his enduring memories of those heady be-bop days is of swapping "fours" with the legendary vibraphonist Vic Feldman immediately prior to his moving to the U.S. to join the Woody Herman Orchestra... During this period he also played repiano clarinet with an embryonic London Symphonietta and several smaller classical combinations. Latterly, he was one of Charlie Katz's ✱ "session men", performing on numerous "hit" (and "not-so-hit") recordings of the day.
Later, he worked directly for several recording companies: Decca, H.M.V., Major-Minor, Philips etc. holding the "Artists and Repertoire" position with most. With Mercury records, he fronted various stage bands on promotional tours across Europe and the Far East, working alongside rising stars of the recording world, Phil Coulter and Mike Leander.
On the demise of viable big band work worldwide, Larry - along with many of his contemporaries - joined Geraldo's Navy ✱, and would cross the Atlantic many times - on both "Queens" - haunting the New York jazz scene...For many years to come, during "dry" periods, he would utilise this "jewel" of an employment facility, both for the pocket and the heart.
There followed several years working the clubs of American military bases throughout the world, during which period he taught saxophone to base High School students for "a few more bucks!"... There is very little in the music business that Larry Johns has not engaged in.
✱ Charlie Katz: Affectionately known as "The Fixer". Charlie was the conduit to the best recording work in London.
✱ Geraldo was a bandleader-turned-agent, and very hard to please. He ended up supplying the transAtlantic cruise run with musicians. You didn't get the "cream" gigs - the "Queens" etc - unless you were in his "navy".