FARMINGTON — A former Wilton man, a musician and entertainer, was killed recently when struck by a drunk driver as he crossed a busy road in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
John Carleton, 51, was raised in Wilton and began playing drums as a child. He studied music at the University of Maine at Augusta and left the area in 1983 to pursue a career as a musician, said his mother Patricia Carleton of Farmington.
Carleton, a Lake Tahoe resident, died Feb. 22 when a drunk driver who had previously lost his license for driving under the influence struck him, said Lt. Brian Williams of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. The driver is facing a charge of felony drunk driving.
Williams said the accident happened after dark, and Carleton was wearing dark clothing.
Family members are waiting for police to release the body so they can bring him home and make funeral plans, Patricia Carleton said.
Friend and movie director, Martin Guigui, said he met Carleton in Burlington, Vt., in 1983, where Carleton went to play as the main drummer in several popular bands.
He played drums with well-known artists such as Laverne Baker, Bo Diddley and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. He also toured Europe with Luther "Guitar" Johnson.
A multi-talented entertainer, Carleton was known for his sense of humor and ability to do impressions.
He appeared in movies directed by Guigui, including "My X-Girlfriend's Wedding Reception" with Dom DeLuise and Debbie Gibson. He also had a featured role in National Lampoon's "Cattle Call" with Chelsea Handler, where he contributed to the soundtrack with his own original songs, Guigui said.
Recently, Carleton has performed his own music in local theaters and casino resorts around Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles, playing jazz and rock 'n' roll. He has also been performing as a stand-up comic, Guigui added.
"He was an extremely intelligent person who really understood people, understood human conditions," Guigui said. "He always had a smile on his face and was compassionate and generous."
He was a consummate entertainer, always giving to his audience and making people happy.
From the outpouring of emails and hundreds of responses on Facebook since Carleton's death, Guigui "doesn't think Carleton would ever have imagined how many people he touched. That's giving," he said.