Editor's Note: This is the first of a series of stories spotlighting the members of the 2022 class to be enshrined into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame later this month.
FLORENCE — While it's an honor for the LeBlanc & Carr duo to be inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Lenny LeBlanc admits it won't be the same because his friend and fellow songwriter/guitarist will not be present to be enshrined with him.
LeBlanc & Carr are among the class of six inductees who will be honored March 23 at the AMHOF induction show at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center.
"Being inducted is sort of bittersweet without Pete being here," LeBlanc said. "I know he would be so excited about it and is so deserving of such an honor."
Pete Carr, who recorded the 1977 album "Midnight Light" with LeBlanc at Wishbone Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, died June 27, 2020, at the age of 70. The album contained one of "Billboard's all-time Top 40 hits, “Falling."
"Honestly, when I received the news, I jokingly said it must be a typo," LeBlanc said. "All kidding aside, it's truly a great honor to be recognized in that way. Being inducted into the hall of fame is definitely high up on the list of accolades. I guess receiving a Dove award for 'Above All' ranks high on that list as well."
LeBlanc received the Dove Award in 2003.
"I look at achievements more like opportunities that arose and somehow I was able to step into them and have a bit of success," he said. "I've been blessed with so many great opportunities through the years."
LeBlanc and Carr grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida, in the late 1960s. According to a band bio provided by LeBlanc, they grew up in the same city as Duane and Gregg Allman. Occasionally, Duane Allman would take the stage with Lenny and Pete in local clubs.
During LeBlanc's last year in school in 1969, Carr left Daytona for California to play bass in Duane and Gregg's new band, The Hour Glass. A few years later, Allman had made his way to Muscle Shoals, where he recorded briefly at Rick Hall's FAME Recording Studios.
Carr moved back to Florida, then in the early 1970s he moved to Muscle Shoals, where he recorded at FAME and, eventually, Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and Wishbone Recording Studio.
In 1973, at Carr's request, LeBlanc decided to also move to Muscle Shoals.
"Moving to the Muscle Shoals area back in 1973 has been the best career move I ever made," LeBlanc said. "Peter Carr was already here and had become a part of the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. Pete and I both grew up in Daytona Beach and it was at his invitation that I make the move. To say I owe him a lot would be an understatement.
"The music community here is like family, and I can't think of a better place to be. I'm very fortunate and grateful to be a part of that family."
LeBlanc said when he first moved to the Shoals, he and his young family lived with Carr and his wife for about six months.
"He was a genius in the studio and he produced my first solo LP on the Big Tree Atlantic," LeBlanc said. "He was also recording instrumental albums at Big Tree Atlantic records at the same time, and I actually played bass on one of them.
“We were together a lot of the time in those days either writing or recording. We never really thought about forming a duo because he was so busy producing and playing in the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section and I was recording as a solo artist."
The duo released only one album and in 1977, they were opening for Southern rock powerhouse Lynyrd Skynyrd on the "Street Survivors" tour.
"When Pete and I formed LeBlanc & Carr we needed a manager," LeBlanc said. "We signed a contract with a British fellow named Peter Rudge. He also managed the Rolling Stones and Skynyrd. Peter decided to give us the slot of opening act for the whole Skynyrd 'Survivors' tour. After five concerts into the tour, we split up for a day as Pete and I went to Daytona to headline our own show and the Skynyrd guys went to the Carolinas. The next day we were supposed to resume the tour in Baton Rouge and on the way there the plane crashed. It was a very sad day."
LeBlanc said Gary Rossington, the founding Skynyrd guitarist who died March 5, was very kind and encouraging to him.
"He was a great guitarist and songwriter," LeBlanc said. "I'm confident his music will live on for generations."
LeBlanc said becoming a born-again Christian in 1981 might not have been the best career move, but it was the best move for him spiritually.
"After reading the Bible for the first time, God began to reveal through the scriptures how much He loved me and wanted me to trust Him with everything," LeBlanc said. "I just couldn't say ‘no’ to that.”
He was correct in that he ended up losing his record deal with Muscle Shoals Sound/Capitol Records when his pop songs always ended up faith songs.
"We struggled to make ends meet and I can truly say I didn't start singing Christian songs for the money because there was none," he said. "I just had an overwhelming desire to sing and write songs about this God that changed my life and, as a result, many of those songs are known and sung around the world today."
Shoals music historian Dick Cooper said he was LeBlanc & Carr's road manager for two years. He was with the band when it toured with Lynyrd Skynyrd. He recalled driving from Dayton to Baton Rouge for the next show with the band. Cooper said they were listening to tapes of their shows on the way.
When he was signing it at the hotel, the receptionist said their show had been cancelled. Cooper asked why.
"Why, because of the plane crash, of course," Cooper recalled the woman saying. "You could have knocked me down with a feather."
He said the band didn't have enough money to pay the hotel bill or to buy gas for the drive home.
"We expected to do a show," Cooper said. "We were lost in Baton Rouge for three days while our families could come up with money to send us so we could get home."
Cooper said Carr was a great artist as an individual who also produced records and played guitar for a host of other artists in local recording studios.
"He was unlike a lot of great artists that are singular, in that he was very able to merge with Lenny to make a duo that worked," Cooper said. "He did a lot with Muscle Shoals Sound as a guitarist in all these other acts. That's a rare talent when you have that versatility."
Carr's widow, Charlotte Carr, said it's difficult to talk about her late husband without crying.
"It's a blessing," she said of the induction. "I think he would have been very pleased. He had a great career."
She said her husband was more at home in a studio setting, rather than on tour.
"Pete was very humble," she said. "He preferred the studio work. He did not like to tour at all. He was basically a shy person."
She said her husband liked creating. She said it was fun to watch him take an idea, work on it on the guitar and end up with a completed song.
Carr played on a variety of albums, including Bob Segar's "Night Moves," which featured Carr's guitar on the hit track "Main Street." His guitar playing is also prominent on Rod Stewart's hit "Tonight's the Night."
The guitarist also played on three tracks on Barbara's Streisand's best-selling 1980 album "Guilty."
"He was still working until he got too sick and had to go to the hospital," his wife said.
She released her husband's unfinished work under the title "Unreleased."
She plans to attend the induction show and accept her late husband's award with her son, John, who teaches math at the University of North Alabama.
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