Mister Laurence

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In his children's-music guise Mister Laurence, Larry Miller aimed to give kids a richer, more challenging musical experience, while still offering the kind of light-hearted fun they expected. It was a…
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In his children's-music guise Mister Laurence, Larry Miller aimed to give kids a richer, more challenging musical experience, while still offering the kind of light-hearted fun they expected. It was a long and unpredictable journey for Miller to that musical destination. A native of Ann Arbor, MI, Miller took piano and clarinet lessons as a child, and later taught himself guitar, bass, drums, accordion, and kazoo. As a teenager, he often played music with his brothers Ben and Roger, collaborating with them in a heavy psychedelic rock band called Sproton Layer starting around 1969. In the late '70s, both Larry and Ben played in the avant-garde semi-punk rock band Destroy All Monsters (Larry handled guitar), while Roger went to Boston and led the seminal alternative rock band Mission of Burma. After Destroy All Monsters broke up, Larry performed off and on with several Michigan bands; he also reunited with Ben and Roger in the '90s for the free-form experimental rock of the trio M-3, and played with the classic-style Detroit rock collective the Empty Set. In 1998, partly inspired by his three daughters, Miller made the switch to children's music, and began performing as Mister Laurence in a variety of local venues: clubs, bookstores, radio, and so on. His first CD, Flaghorn, was released in the spring of 1999, and as he did on all the follow-ups, Miller played all the instruments on the backing tracks (in his live appearances, he sang along to them karaoke-style). The follow-up Tugboat Tow appeared in the spring of 2000, and was followed by What Goes Up Must Come Down, Vol. 1, a cassette-only compilation of songs from the two existing Mister Laurence albums. In 2001, Miller released The Verge, an hour-long piece of ambient music designed to put kids (and their parents) to sleep. 2002 brought Pancake Heaven, which was soon pulled from stores due to possible September 11 associations; it was re-released as the slightly reconfigured Bubble Land.