Larry Miller began playing folk music at school, on front porches, along sidewalks, and in nursing homes with his classmates when he was 15 years old. He joined the Harrison High School Folk Music Club and played music similar to bands like the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Bob Dylan.
When the Beatles came along, the now 69-year-old Evansville native transitioned from a folk lover to a Rock ‘n’ Roller and started a rock band named Coventry, influenced by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, when he began studying at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana.
Since then, he has played the guitar and accordion on the sidewalks of Germany and in the streets of Paris, the neighborhoods of Asheville, North Carolina, and back home in Haynie’s Corner Arts District. We sat down with Miller to learn more of his musical adventures.
What made you want to start a Rock ‘n’ Roll band?
When I first discovered the Beatles, I learned how to play electric guitar so I could put a real band together. John Lennon is my hero. When I was 19, I studied in Germany and spent a summer in Europe. Without my band, I played guitar on the sidewalks of Paris and Germany.
On the sidewalk, you can play the same song all day long because the audience changes every 30 seconds. It was a great way to learn an instrument but it takes nerve. I would like to see this on Main Street, on Haynie’s Corner, or wherever.
Did you continue playing music after college?
After college, I went to the army, was injured, and earned a Purple Heart. When I came back from the Army, I got married and had a family and didn’t really play much for the remainder of my 20s and 30s, just in the neighborhood sometimes, but never out in public.
What made you want to street perform again?
About around the time I turned 40, John Lennon was murdered. Like I said, he is my hero. By that time, my kids had grown and were out of diapers, so I decided to get my guitars out of the closet and start playing again. The next year, on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death, I did a John Lennon musical tribute and I’ve been doing a John Lennon night ever since.
Tell us a little more about John Lennon Night.
We always will have a John Lennon Night. The first one was at The Jungle, then Smitty’s, then in 2002, there was a buildup to the Iraq War, so we started an organization call Veterans for Peace. Now Veterans for Peace is the sponsoring organization of John Lennon Night. We just had our 2015 Lennon Night at Bokeh Lounge on Dec. 8. About 120 people attended and about 30 musicians performed.
Besides John Lennon Night, where else do you play now?
I play the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign and I also play on Haynie’s Corner and Main Street whenever the weather is nice. I also have a condo in Asheville, North Carolina, and spend 15 weeks out of the year there. When I’m there, I usually play one hour a day on Haywood Street.