[JPL] Greg Tate's Obituary For Tom Terrell In Village Voice (plus comments from others)

TomtheJazzman tomthejazzman at embarqmail.com
Thu Dec 13 17:04:04 EST 2007


Mitchell, thanks so much for posting this item and also to Brian Bacchus 
for alerting us earlier on the severity of Tom's illness.  "Scooter" was 
a real trooper.  I remember often seeing him with his baseball jersey on 
and being in various positions from the good old days at Verve/Polygram 
to Antilles and so on..  He was always so full of positive energy and 
had a wonderful data base in his mind of all kinds of music.

I really don't believe Tom ever met a stranger.  Our community has lost 
a real champ for good music and the ability to push the envelope in a 
respectful manner. 
ALOHA
Tom

mfa - jazz radio promotion & publicity wrote:
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>
> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> http://www.villagevoice.com/music/0750,tate,78591,22.html
>
> Tom Terrell, 1951–2007
>
> Friends and colleagues remember one of the music biz's few universally 
> beloved men
>
> by Gregory Stephen Tate
>
> December 11th, 2007 2:31 PM
>
> Music—as art form, as healing force, as communal 
> enterprise—unequivocally lost its best friend when Tom Terrell, after 
> an inexorable bout with prostate cancer, made his transition from 
> madcap music-addicted earthling to truly extraterrestrial brother. The 
> world of musicians, music people, and even the damned—music 
> journalists—is now significantly smaller, more entropic, more unsound, 
> more unwise and unwitty without Tom around to bind us up, wind us up, 
> crank us up.
> I met Tom at Howard University during the 1970s, when D.C. was a 
> post-civil-rights Black Utopia experiencing a golden age of live music 
> and free-form radio— a time when the likes of Funkadelic, War, and 
> Mandrill played every other week, and you judged a man by the size of 
> his jazzrockfunkfusionsoul album collection. Tom had amassed more 
> vinyl than anybody then considered humanly possible, from across every 
> genre and from every continent. When punk and reggae hit town big-time 
> in the early '80s, Tom had already figured out what was hip besides 
> the Clash and Bob Marley. You often heard it first on Tom's radio 
> shows: Grace Jones, Black Uhuru, Sly and Robbie, Steel Pulse (whom he 
> booked for their first D.C. show), Dennis Bovell, Linton Kwesi 
> Johnson, Melvin Van Peebles. Tom was often playing the hippest U.K. 
> joints before they'd even turned up in the hippest U.K. magazines. He 
> was also a monster photographer—some of the most moving shots you'll 
> ever see of Miles and Marley are in his archives; one day soon there 
> should be, will be, must be an exhibition.
>
> Tom also threw the absolute best D.C. house parties back in the day, 
> affairs eagerly awaited and renowned among men and dogs for their hot 
> fusion of wine, weed, women, and song. Like me, Tom left DJing (and 
> concert production) to scribe in New York: a natural transition, 
> except Tom went on to also do, as he had in D.C., just about every job 
> you could do in the music business without singing, strumming, and 
> dancing. Not just promotion, marketing, and a&r, but tour managing 
> (for Steel Pulse) and rigging lights 50 feet in the air above outdoor 
> stages, too.
>
> Like most of the deep cats I befriended at Howard, Tom and I could see 
> each other once every decade and still pick up where we left off. The 
> last time I did see him in the flesh was April '06, when our fellow 
> alum/main man Lewis "Flip" Barnes and I helped him move all his 
> worldly possessions out of a loft in Newark and head to D.C. for what 
> would be his last two industry gigs, one with the Thievery 
> Corporation, the other with XM Radio. During that time, he also 
> completed his incandescent liner notes for Miles's On the Corner box set.
>
> Just four months later, as that be-atch goddess Fate would have it, 
> Tom and his legion of friends and acolytes learned of his illness. He 
> carried it, as usual, with far more nerve and grace than we did, 
> comforting his community more, as usual, than we could comfort him. 
> There are (surprise, surprise) very few universally beloved figures in 
> the music business, that lower circle of service to genius, hokum, and 
> hype, where all who fit the humbling description of suits, stagehands, 
> publicists, and critics must dwell. Let the following anecdotal 
> evidence show Tom Terrell was the cherished exception who proved the 
> rule: the cat who always brought love and found love in places where 
> love was rarely in the job description.
>
> I will miss the sunshine of his spirit, his smile and laughter, the 
> generosity of his heart, his love, respect, and appreciation of music, 
> performers, all creative artists. I will miss his voice and passion in 
> his craft. Whenever I would see Tom, he was so concerned and 
> supportive about what you were doing artistically. He was an artist's 
> best friend. If he believed in you, you had an ally for life. Every 
> artist cannot exist without this type of support and love. He set a 
> great example of community for artists to follow. "How can I help 
> you?" was a question Tom was always asking. My greatest hope is that 
> his spirit will eternally live on in peace . . . that the love, joy, 
> and light that he so generously gave to others will continue on as the 
> strongest vibration throughout this world and the work of all the 
> artists he supported. —Stephanie McKay, musicianNo one loved music and 
> musicians like Tom.
> A writer, but not a critic.
>
> Just one of us, but with a pencil and a camera.
>
> And always a smile.
>
> Miss ya already Tom. —Steven Bernstein, musician
>
> Like the older sibling I always wanted and the mentor I arrogantly 
> thought I didn't need, I met Tom Terrell in the spring of 1994. It was 
> the day after Kurt Cobain's suicide, and we sat in some long-gone 
> restaurant downing margaritas and talking mad junk. "Funny 
> motherfucker," I thought, as we joked like Richard Pryor and Redd 
> Foxx. For years afterwards, we spent many nights in his Brooklyn 
> brownstone apartment talking about hot music and cool movies, 
> beautiful women and the ugliness of the world. Schooling me on 
> everything from Miles's electric funk to the history of James Bond 
> flicks to the four-color universe of comic-book artist Steve Ditko, 
> Tom had an enthusiasm for all things pop. Yet, beyond the sounds that 
> streamed from his stereo, my fellow Cancerian was a sensitive cat who 
> radiated light even on the darkest of days and was always willing to 
> help out. Let me not even start on the number of times I crashed on 
> his couch, ate at his table, or borrowed 20 bucks. In our small 
> universe of music folks, where friendships are often fleeting, Tom 
> proved to be as true blue as an old Madonna song. —Michael Gonzales, 
> writerI was sullen and maybe even cranky when T got on the F train 
> back to Brooklyn a few years ago—after a day at work, hiding out in 
> the pages of a magazine for a while was cool with me. But we hadn't 
> seen each other in a minute, and he wasn't one who could turn off the 
> investigative aspects of his social side: When he asked you how you 
> were doing, he truly wanted to know how you were doing. I grunted back 
> a few responses to his typically chipper vibe and felt guilty 
> regarding the imbalance—I don't consider myself a prick-face. It 
> didn't take long: A couple of wisecracks, a bit of music banter (for 
> some reason, compliments about pianist Rodney Kendrick come to mind), 
> and injections of his energy combined with that infectious cackle 
> started to crush the orneriness. Bumping into a pal is such a common 
> deal—it would seem impossible that 15 minutes with a dude could flip 
> the script, mood-wise. But even a thickhead like me noticed that I was 
> a different person when I hit the sidewalk. And by "different," I mean 
> better—back to the real me. On that day—on many days—T dealt in 
> elation. God's work, really. —Jim Macnie, writerThroughout the 15 or 
> so years I knew Tom, he was many things. A gentleman. A world-class 
> flirt. A total pain in the ass, smart, and perpetually, almost 
> comically late. Above all, Tom was music. It's a cliché, but it was 
> true: He lived and breathed music. Any kind of music—just like the 
> O'Jays. This was a guy you could talk to about any genre, and if he 
> wasn't totally hip to something, he'd ask about it with genuine 
> interest. I spoke to Tom a few times shortly before he passed. By the 
> sound of his voice, it was clear that he was fighting, but his mind 
> was on point. It was a brief conversation—not our last, thank God. He 
> was tired and I was near tears, and so we just chatted—but at some 
> point, when you get two critics together . . . He asked if I'd heard 
> the new Levon Helm; he'd read that it was good. I hadn't yet—it was on 
> the "listen to" pile. After a minute or so, I could tell he was 
> fading, so we said goodbye, and when I put the phone down, I was like: 
> "Damn! Tom's dying and he's asking about Levon Helm?" But you know 
> what? That made sense. —Amy Linden, writer'Jazz hands!" Accompanied by 
> the requisite fluttering ruffle of fingers and round face: That was 
> Tom's standard quip to cheer a melancholy moment or just get a 
> guaranteed giggle as he walked out the door, always schlepping a 
> Jah-heavy load of cameras, books, and music. Tom's hands were as 
> eloquent as his grin, his fingers a blur as he riffled through records 
> seeking that audio sweet spot or raced across the keyboard, hunting 
> the perfect, ripe word to drop into our consciousness. With his 
> enthusiasm, warmth, instant wit, and classy taste, Li'l Tommy Tee (his 
> radio name on his influential '80s D.C. show, Café C'est What) made 
> eclectic organic. Tom got us all doing it 'round his hospital bed, so 
> whether you knew him or not—and don't worry about looking silly, Tom 
> sure wouldn't—altogether now: jazz hands! —Vivien Goldman, writerI was 
> partially responsible for luring Tom away from D.C. back around '89 or 
> '90, but met him several years before when I was a promotion man for 
> PolyGram records. I first got wind of the brother, though, back in the 
> early '80s, talking on 8th Street with Greg Tate and Lewis "Flip" 
> Barnes. That's when I first heard of the famous D.C. house parties 
> that he used to throw with his reel-to-reel playing on the top floor, 
> and him running up and down the stairs, keeping the party movin' and 
> groovin'.
> Over the years, I got to see firsthand what a true renaissance man he 
> was. He did it all and could hold discourse on all manner of things. 
> In turn, he touched so many folks with his kindness, advice, 
> recommendations, and just plain Terrell-ness that I know I'll be 
> getting e-mails for years to come about something the man did or said 
> that has finally panned out for them. For me, his Terrell-ness also 
> means his ability to pull out a jam that no one else has heard yet. 
> Tom attacked my jadedness with the wonderful, eye-opening sensation 
> that there was still an uncharted future. —Brian M. Bacchus, 
> producer/a&r, SoulFeast
>
> Tom, whom I also knew as "Scooter"— I don't know why—would leave 
> whatever he was working on till the last minute. He stored everything 
> in his head; it seemed he'd never make it, and then he'd blurt it out 
> on the keyboard in a brilliant rush of words and color. Tom knew who 
> he was. I suggested one day that he write something less free-form and 
> more biographical. He said, with perfect logic: "You called me for 
> this job, didn't you?"
> It was years into our friendship before I knew that Tom was a 
> photographer, when he told me in an offhand way that the Parliament 
> project at hand could use some new photos and that he just might have 
> something. In he'd walk, wearing beautiful Alain Mikli glasses—how did 
> he find those?—and out of an old bag would tumble prints from the 
> old-school gods.
>
> Tom coined a singular music-industry phrase: As someone more than 
> happy to take free goods, he called himself a "promosexual." I still 
> laugh when a visitor grabs a few freebies. I can see Tom, smiling. — 
> Harry Weinger, producer, Universal
>
> When Tom heard, a couple of years ago, that I was putting together a 
> photo exhibit marking the 25th anniversary of VP Records, he showed me 
> a great shot he'd taken at London's Notting Hill Carnival in 1985. A 
> DJ is set up on the sidewalk, and a couple of young kids, a boy and a 
> girl, are dancing to the music on top of a car. It's priceless: all 
> you need to know about how people of African heritage manage to add 
> color and rhythm to their lives in Old Blighty. Of course, it's not 
> out of the question to see that photo as a self-portrait of Tom 
> himself. He was a DJ. He was a dancer. He was also a writer, 
> photographer, promo man, and consummate hipster.
> Ultimately, Tom Terrell always reminded me of Charlie Parker, who was 
> once asked about his religious affiliation and replied: "I am a devout 
> Musician." The same can be said of Tom, too. (And I have no idea 
> whether he ever played a lick on an actual musical instrument.) Tom 
> Terrific was a devout Musician, and he was beloved for his devotion. I 
> have always been proud to call him my friend. — Bill Adler, 
> writer/gallerist, Eyejammie
>
> A little over a year ago, our band Harriet Tubman played a short set 
> at a beautiful benefit night for Tom at the Canal Room in NYC. It was 
> an honor, in my heart, that Tom had specifically requested that 
> Harriet Tubman perform. We composed a song dedicated to him—something 
> original, from our hearts to his. It was and is titled "Afro Sheen." 
> Inspired by a day of listening to the "Queen of the Hammond B-3 
> Organ," Twinkie Clark and the Clark Sisters, it is the "good news" of 
> our Urban Gospel. It is Brooklyn, it is Deadwood Dick, it is romance, 
> it is mean, it is Colored, it is high-steppin', it is testifyin' and 
> death-defyin'! We gave it to Tom in performance at the benefit, in 
> love and respect and Bruthahood. That was a beautiful night for 
> everyone. There was so much love in the room! So much tireless support 
> from his peeps.
> In a life, love defines us. Nothing else. As we define him by the love 
> he gave and received, Terrell was/is a great man. Thank you, Tom, for 
> coming and being with us. Thanks for letting your little light shine, 
> shine, shine. . . . —Brandon Ross, musician
>
> Hey, Tom. To the point: I knew I couldn't hang with you the first time 
> Don Palmer took me by your apartment on First Ave. Your house was 
> messier than mine, and I was trying to get away from all those things 
> you were into . . . too "Beat" for me. But I am your friend 'cause, as 
> your Aunt Shirley said, we could share some food. Plus that lady in 
> your house was a total distraction. I could see we had the same kind 
> of indulgences. Then, over the years, I'd meet the writer, the 
> photographer, the bohemian poet-soothsayer at gatherings or en route 
> to wherever it was that we were going. And still going. Through V'man 
> and 'Becca, we crossed and crossed again. We went to see Louis 
> Armstrong, and through his glory I saw you glow with the same kind of 
> fascination and enthusiasm that I have for the mentor of all music 
> that is to represent us in our residence and our voyage. You knew 
> then! . . . And through his voice, I knew too. His voice touched you. 
> So for me, Louis Armstrong is our connecting rod. He is our 
> "BubbleMan". . . . By the way, thank you for the picture, it is my 
> favorite. You touch, too, and you carry the message well. And you seem 
> to have given us all something to do. —Butch Morris, musicianDear Tom: 
> Man, I'm sitting here listening to Bootsy's Christmas Is 4 Ever and 
> wondering what to get you this year. A couple of weeks ago, you asked 
> for the Fred Astaire DVD box. I thought that was some funny shit, but 
> then again, you were the only person I knew who could wax on about 
> Wishbone Ash. Anyway, you're going to miss the rum, whiskey, and 
> brandy eggnog this year, and the Memorial Day barbecue, when you would 
> deign to eat some pork while making everyone look 'cue-fabulous in 
> your photos. So the next 'cue will be the 1st Annual Terrell. . . . I 
> write this knowing that you were a goofy, totally irresponsible sage. 
> You'd cuss me out for banging your bell at 2 a.m., but we'd sit for 
> hours listening, talking, pondering. Generosity. Love. You helped me 
> keep it together when two of my friends died. We sat and talked about 
> your dad when you learned that he had died. I had to ask his name. 
> "Tom," you said. And we shared fried chicken in the VFW hall basement 
> after that rainy morning.
> 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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