Tom Terrell, 1951–2007

Friends and colleagues remember one of the music biz's few universally beloved men

Family and a story. Two things you really knew. But who else would know, as we could do that so-cool hip Negro thing to our own laughter. Hey man, I am pissed you can't see the tree right now. It would appeal to that rich, romantic streak that fed your soul. I'm remembering all that blather about bad pop music, the Tad Low talk show, and (oh, hell) terrible adult films. But we would talk, and you were rarely without words. News, sports, pre-postmodernism, my cooking but not yours. Well, I already bought you a garbage can as a Brooklyn housewarming gift. Introduced you sorta to some of your past gal pals. Gave you my locktician, though the frugal Terrell found her expensive. So what's left? Memories. I will keep those as the greatest gift from you and for you. I'll let others tell about your career, and just leave with what you knew best: "When you're smiling, when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you." —Don Palmer, writer, chef, world traveler, arts administrator


See, all my life, vocalists have given me faith, hope, and charity, caressed me, comforted me, taught me, guided me, carried me, nurtured me, encouraged me, loved me, forgave me, sheltered me, touched me, influenced me, and reached me in the darkest hours far heavily than family, friends, and lovers ever have or could. When I was a baby, my Moms told me the only thing that would stop me bawling was Johnny Ace's "The Clock" and "Pledging My Love." David Ruffin proved to me that wearing thick black eyeglass frames was cool, not corny. Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and the Staple Singers taught me smart was the real hip, black was always beautiful, funk is spiritual, and to always love myself for myself. —Tom Terrell, writer, promoter, DJ, devout musicologist, friend
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