Laurence Juber has played guitar with Paul McCartney, snapped behind-the-scenes photos of Led Zeppelin and is now celebrating the release of his first book, "Guitar With Wings: A Photographic Memoir."
WASHINGTON — Laurence Juber has played guitar with Paul McCartney and snapped behind-the-scenes photos of Led Zeppelin and is now celebrating the release of his first book, “Guitar With Wings: A Photographic Memoir.”
The 250-page project pairs more than 200 previously unreleased photos of rock icons with a personal story that starts in 1978 when Juber became guitarist for Wings, McCartney’s post-Beatles band.
At the time, Juber had already established himself in London as a promising studio musician. He was averaging three to four sessions a day, he says, and was well known within creative circles as a talented guitarist.
“I was in my mid-20s and just raring to go,” Juber says. “I wasn’t necessarily looking for a change of career.”
Making a career as a studio musician in the 1970s was a lucrative and attainable dream, Juber says. It wasn’t hard to find work, and he was already in demand by the time he met McCartney. Besides, he was shy about playing in front of people.
Ever since Juber was a teenager, he stayed away from the front of the stage. But that all changed when McCartney asked Juber to join Wings on the recommendation of mutual friend and Wings co-founder Denny Laine. Juber just couldn’t say no.
“Even as a teenager I had daydreamed about being called to play with the Beatles, but the reality of actually finding myself in a band with Paul McCartney was not something that was on my agenda,” he says. “I had to think about it for about a nanosecond.”
The timing was fortuitous. Juber’s father had died just months before, and he was in need of a change.
“It all kind of worked itself out,” he says. “Like I was going to turn down the opportunity to work with Paul McCartney!”
Once he joined the band, Juber became interested in documenting everything he was seeing. He learned how to shoot unobtrusive behind-the-scenes photos from Linda McCartney, who was often seen snapping away when no one was looking. The result was candid pictures featuring some of rock and roll’s biggest names — Pink Floyd, John Bonham and The Who. The photos stayed hidden away in shoe boxes for more than 30 years until Juber realized that music fans would want to see his early works.
“I always felt like I was the custodian of this collection of photos,” he says.
It took more than a year for Juber to assemble “Guitar With Wings,” which features 450 photos, he says. The once shy-teen never imagined that he would one day become an author, but telling his story has helped him to bridge the gap between his time with Wings and the 22 solo albums he has since recorded.
“I have so many memories that it would take another book,” he says.
Some of Juber’s other accomplishments include recording the No. 3 hit “She’s Like the Wind” with Patrick Swayze for the 1980s classic “Dirty Dancing.” Juber says that he wasn’t a big movie buff at the time and didn’t know what to expect from working with an actor, but looking back it’s one of his favorite memories.
He also played on the soundtrack for “Good Will Hunting.”
“I’ve been around music so long that I get more excited about people who are not musicians,” he says.
Seeing movie director Gus Van Sant noodle on a guitar in the corner of a room was a highlight, he says.
“To record music and be able to support somebody else’s art is really a very exciting experience,” he says.
You can see Juber play live Wednesday night at Jammin Java in Vienna, Virginia. Tickets are $20 to $23 and can be purchased online through Jammin Java’s website.
Click through the image gallery to get a sneak peek of “Guitar With Wings.”