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Terry Reid: The Man With a Story as Legendary as His Voice

He is known as “Superlungs,” and Terry Reid has a story some would find unimaginable. He’s been on multiple tours with The Rollings Stones, including their legendary ‘American Tour’ of 1969 which included a quick stop to sing at Mick Jagger’s wedding.

His voice led him to become the supporting act for such rock and roll monarchies as Cream, Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, and Jimi Hendrix. He recorded six studio albums and achieved numerous recording credits, including his most recent work on Rob Zombie.

To some, the legacy of Terry Reid may mostly be associated with the over-hyped story how he was the man who turned down Led Zepplin and Deep Purple. which is unfortunate as his recording catalog includes some of the most famous songs in rock and roll history.

“The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Terry Reid were the best England had to offer”

Aretha Franklin

Before his Friday, May 24th show at The Cedar, billed as An Evening With Terry Reid, we had a chance to talk about his years of touring, the yet unfinished documentary chronicling his life, the musical influence he has had on other artists, and his advice for aspiring artists. All of this from a man who has truly seen it all.

When you sit down and talk to Terry, you quickly realize that he is one of the hardest people to interview. Not because he won’t answer questions, but because draws you into his great stories and cackly laugh. It quickly becomes more like talking to a friend and sharing stories of life.

“The biggest thing to happen since The Beatles”

Jeff Beck

MIM: You have been up here before, do you have any Minnesota memories?

Terry Reid: I’ve been there a few times, with Slim Harpo back in the day and as soon as they said Minneapolis, Paul Westerberg I believe is still living up there. Tommy Stinson told me he had a big ranch up there. Tommy, I know is still there. I would love to hook up with him [Westerberb], We had some really funny times together, and that’s putting it lightly [laughing].

B.B. King, Rolling Stones Tour, 1969 © Glen Craig

Terry was born and raised in the rural town of Huntingdon, England, and he told me the story of how he received his first guitar at 10 years old.

Terry: There was a guy you probably heard of called Tommy Steele. Elvis never came to England, and I never knew why. You had a ton of people so inspired by Elvis, we all wanted some of that. So you had people like Tommy Steele and later on Cliff Richards. Tommy was a real go lucky happy kind of guy. I saw him and I just knew that I have to get a guitar after my parents took me to a show he did in London.

After a few weeks, I put it in the cupboard, and my mom put it with the vacuum and a bunch of stuff, and it broke. I just kinda lost interest. So when The Beatles started happening I had to have another and that’s when my dad when out and bought me a proper guitar. It was a Hofner, it wasn’t too clever, but its what I wanted because when you look back at old photos of The Beatles, they all played Hofner guitars. They aren’t Fenders and they aren’t Gibsons, I’ll tell you that.

On writing his first song Without Expression at the age of fourteen, and touring with The Rolling Stones at the age of fifteen.

Terry: At fifteen I left school to go tour with The Stones. If I would have thought about it, I wouldn’t have done it. We [The Jaywalkers] were playing a gig in London. Mickey and Kieth came down there, and it was really their fault I quit school because they wanted me to do the tour. I then go home back to the countryside, and say to my mates, Hey, I’m going on tour with The Stones. They were like, “get out of here, ya sure”.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have said that because they all made me buy them a round of drinks. A couple of days after that we started the tour at the Albert Hall in London. The Stones played twenty songs and then they kicked into Satisfaction which had just come out to close the show, then there was a riot, and I thought to myself, “this is the first show”. [laughing]

Terry then toured America with The Rolling Stones after first touring with Eric Clapton and Cream on their Farewell Tour.

Terry: Our first show in on that tour [Cream] was Madison Square Garden. I couldn’t believe it. I jokingly looked at Eric and said, “do you have anything bigger? There was no time for nervousness, It was more just the shock of playing such a large venue. “

After a forty city American tour with The Rolling Stones, Terry was asked to play at the famous Mick Jaggers wedding to Bianca in 1969. He performed in front of David Bowie, The Beatles, Salvador Dali and everyone who was anyone at the time.

Terry: You’ve seen the cover of Sargent Peppers Lonely Heart Club, It wasn’t the same people, but it was just like that. The who’s of who of all the celebrities at the time. The Stones, Bowie, The Beatles, Brigitte Bardot. Salvador Dali didn’t say a word the who time. His face was painted white like a Marcel Marceau mime thing. Charlie Watts pulls me aside and says keep your eye on him and see if you see him blink. The man didn’t blink for he never said a word [Laughing] He was so weird. And Briggite Bardot was so sweet at the time, you would just melt. Charlie introduced me and I couldn’t believe it. I met her and I just about passed out.

MIM: They were trying to get out a documentary about your life. Are there plans to finish it?

Terry: Ya, ya, but I’m considering doing a book here. A book gets more into the detail of things. I started doing a documentary with a friend of mine, and he did a leader thing which was all Led Zepplin and all these people I just thought were are we going from there? I said to him to put a script together and make sure it’s about me and not everybody else. It’s interesting though that I have worked with a lot of people and some I’m still friends with. Graham Nash lives in New York and every time I’m out there we hang out. It’s like the longest friendship I’ve ever had.

Having worked with so many artists over his extraordinary career, one never knows who might take the stage with him when he tours. I asked Terry if there would be any surprises when he takes the stage with just him and a guitar at The Cedar he simply laughed and said, ” You never know.”

Young artists and even those curious about the musical history of an era can learn about the late ’60s and ’70s just by listening to the constant evolution of Terry’s music. Terry is truly the definition of a music legend.

When I asked him for advice for singers and artists his response was simple, “Listen to the songs of every culture, every genre and learn from the heart.”


Check out Terry Reid at The Cedar, Friday, May 24th. For more info click here!

Author: Richard Dollarhide

Photographer, Photojournalist, Executive Chef and Full Time Artist

Written by Richard Dollarhide

Photographer, Photojournalist, Executive Chef and Full Time Artist

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