You likely have seen or heard Larry Miller on guitar at John Lennon Night or on the baritone horn with the Rhein Valley Brass at Germania Maennerchor. Maybe you know him as the man who perches in Haynie’s Corner Arts District or on Main Street with an accordion.
Miller started playing music at age 10. The guitar was the William Henry Harrison High School graduate’s first love growing up in the folk and rock ‘n’ roll eras.
While attending Hanover College, Indiana, he started a band and played fraternity and sorority parties. Then, he hopped the pond to study abroad in Germany, reunited with his high school girlfriend and future wife, Jutta, and played guitar there and in Paris.
“It was real fun to play noisy rock ‘n’ roll in college,” he says.
His tour of duty in the Vietnam War left him without two fingers on his left hand, which didn’t slow him down. He finished his degree at Hanover, raised a family with Jutta, and ran his father’s company, Miller Block and Brick Co. Once his children were grown, he helped form and became a member of the Rhein Valley Brass band.
“I’m not into watching sports. So, I work out at the YMCA, and I play music. It’s something that offers a lot to the community,” Miller says.
Upon John Lennon’s death in 1980, Miller returned to the guitar and started the celebratory fundraiser John Lennon Night as well as the local chapter of Veterans for Peace, which puts on the event.
The accordion took him three lessons from former fellow Rhein Valley Brass member Ed Valentine to learn. Miller’s accordion — which he bought second-hand in Minneapolis, Minnesota — has 72 base notes and weighs 23 pounds. He says the accordion is easier than the horn, but it does hurt his legs to stand for hours playing in restaurants or on the street for his amusement (but he does accept donations). Still, he sees himself continuing to play for years to come.
“Music is a pretty serious hobby of mine, but my main hobby is gardening,” Miller says. “I’m just a hobbyist, and I’ll be playing for a little while longer.”