PITTSBURG — Each person has their own unique history and Larry Douglas is no exception.
He spent his youth as a traveling musician, but customers asking him for home improvement advice wouldn’t have a clue.
During his travels he met famous musicians like James Brown, Frankie Valli, The Commodores, Billy Preston, The Platters, Three Dog Night — the list goes on and on.
It all began in high school when he was asked if he would like to join a band, and with little to no experience, he began his journey as a drummer.
“I was terrible, but they worked with me,” Larry said.
The first song he ever learned was “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. The reason, it was the song the guitar player knew.
One of their first gigs was at a city festival, but not too long after he joined they disbanded and Larry stopped playing.
A few years later he was back on the drums and he found himself at LuLu’s Roadhouse as a house drummer in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
The club — which was a remodeled K-mart — had one of the world’s largest bars and brought in many celebrities, he said.
Larry said he would receive phone calls asking him to be back-up for both popular and less known bands.
Despite being around the celebrities, Larry just wanted to play his drums. Larry said he has always considered himself a “meat and potatoes” kind of man.
“I never planned on it [being famous], I was quite happy to play music and get paid,” he said. “I wrote songs and had some appearances on TV locally in Canada, but never had any big dreams of being a big star.”
Unfortunately, all things must come to an end and what Larry called “the live music era” slowed to an end for musicians like himself.
He said there were many factors — including economics, disco, MTV and more.
“They wanted you to look and sound like the videos,” he said.
Instead of an all week gig, it went down to a few nights and eventually just a few hours. It is hard to make a living off working a few nights a week, he said.
It was time to move on and around 1990 he was no longer doing music full time.
Despite the end of his traveling music career, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
In 1997 he met his wife Natalie who lived in Pittsburg. They met online and hosted meetings with other online chatters. Soon enough, the couple decided to make it official and they married.
After moving to Pittsburg he worked in sales for a radio station and shortly after worked for Home Depot, a career which has lasted for 15 years. He currently works as a prodesk associate where he assists contractors and customers.
“The better days outnumber the bad days,” he said.
He said Pittsburg itself had some pretty big bands come through.
People refer him as “the guy with the long hair,” for reference when people are searching for him at the store. Speaking of hair, it is cut short now because he donated it to Locks of Love again — which he has done since 2008.
Larry still plays the drums or tags along with local bands on occasion, mostly for benefits such as The Big Bang Rockfest, a fundraiser for Pittsburg’s annual fireworks display and Lylahpalooza. Larry is also a member of the Musicians for Miracles.
“We do that because people have been good to us and we try to turn it back around,” he said.
Larry said he wouldn’t change the past and was glad to have an opportunity to do it all.
“How I look at my past is I’m really glad I got to do it … you can't do something like that now,” he said. “I feel very bad for young people because they will never get to go out non-stop for two years and play every night, with the except of Sundays for travel.
He said he sees himself no more special than the local bands and enjoys having the opportunity to play with them as well.
“I was no more talented than anyone else,” Larry said. “I was just in the right place in the right time and had a lot of fun with it.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.