The "Terrific" Terry Wayne
By Steve Aynsley
Photos: Terry Wayne, Steve Aynsley and from the archives of Now Dig This.
Terry Wayne's Discography
The "Terrific" Terry Wayne! That is quite an accolade to hang on a young up and coming British star of the 50's but that is what the music media have tended to do over the years. In the late 50's and early 60's, Ray Charles was classed as a
"Genius". True he was a great talent and very innovative but was he a genius? We tend to shower our favourite artists with flattering monikers but do they really deserve them? Was it somewhat previous to attach the adjective "terrific" against Terry Wayne's name even before he had a hit record? And, subsequently, after several failed attempts at the hit parade, do we still believe Terry was "terrific"? Well, I believe we do. If Terry had been an artist in today's pop world, the lack of general media interest would just have endeared him more to his fans. From the very first time he appeared on "6-5 Special", performing Carl Perkin's songs (nobody did that over here in the U.K. apart from Vince Eager "Lend Me Your Comb") to the present time where he has performed at the 100 Club, the Wildest Cats weekender, the Railway Club in Wellingborough in 2008, the Americana in Newark in 2009 and at the Borderline Club in London in 2011, Terry's performances have been nothing short of phenomenal (now there's an accolade!)
Over 40 Photos
More photos courtesy Paul Harris HERE >>>
Following the release of his Rollercoaster CD in 2008, also entitled "The Terrific Terry Wayne" (RCCD 3030), he has appeared in the U.K. with several different bands but the common theme was Terry's outstanding talent and ability to play authentic rockabilly music.
As a child he was steeped in country music having been indoctrinated by his father's vast record collection of 78 rpm recordings by the likes of Roy Rogers, Hank Williams, Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, Merle Travis and Jimmy Wakely, to name but a few. He learned to play guitar finger pickin' style by listening to the likes of blues artists Josh White and Big Bill Broonzy. What was happening to Terry Wayne (real name David Skinner) in South London was exactly what happened to Elvis in Memphis in the early fifties, both innocently creating a fusion of rural country music and deep southern blues to form rockabilly.
Terry's story goes back to Woolwich, South East London where he was born in 1941 (his brother, country DJ Cliff Stevens, still lives in nearby Charlton to this day). The family later moved to Plumstead during World War Two but a decade later, Terry was touring locally with his father as Harry & David Foster Ð the Cowboy Syncopaters. When David became Terry Wayne in the mid fifties, his father continued to tour with him as his backing band, Hank Foster & his Hillbillies. Terry signed with agent Sid Royce in 1955 and it was Sid who groomed Terry into an exciting solo performer. Sid secured TV appearances for Terry on the new BBC teenage show "6-5 Special", a show which had already made huge stars of Tommy Steele and Lonnie Donegan. He also introduced him to Columbia Records A&R man, Norman Newall, who signed Terry up to a recording contract for six singles over a three year period in 1957. His first release was a straight cover of Carl Perkins' second U.K. London coupling of "Matchbox" and "Your True Love"
Unfortunately, that is where the similarity between Terry's and Carl's discs ended. Whereas Sun Records allowed Carl to use authentic rockabilly musicians (his brothers Clayton and Jay plus W.S Holland and Jerry Lee Lewis on piano), Terry had to make do with Tony Osborne who, despite becoming the Musical Director for "6-5 Special", was more suited to Middle-of-the-Road artists like Shirley Bassey and Judy Garland. He was a brilliant musician but did not have the feel for rockabilly that the material called for. Even the addition of Bert Weedon on guitar did not produce the goods that Terry was striving for. Although Terry was extremely grateful for the exposure that TV appearances and a recording contract gave him, he dearly wished for the artistic freedom that his American counterparts enjoyed. His second release coupled "Plaything" with "Slim Jim Tie", an original composition written by Terry and an acquaintance, Alf Sanders. Over the years "Slim Jim Tie" has become a firm favourite at rock and roll record hops both in the U.K and Europe. Again, the recording had Tony Osborne backing but, with it being original, there was no American version to act as a comparison.
During 1957, Terry appeared on "6-5 Special" and recorded a live album from the show for Parlophone Records. He performed two songs, Carl Perkins' "Boppin' The Blues" and Web Pierce's "Teenage Boogie" in front of a studio audience.
Terry continued to tour promoting his recordings but his big break came at the expense of Jerry Lee Lewis when the latter artist was forced to leave Britain shortly after the beginning of his U.K. tour with the Treniers early in 1958. Terry, along with Chas McDevitt, was chosen to replace Jerry. Terry and Chas joined the tour at Preston on May 28th and continued to tour with the Trenier twins until June 30th in Bovington. Terry performed, with the Hedley Ward Trio, a selection of rock and country numbers including both sides of his latest release "All Mamas Children" and "Forgive Me" as well as introducing his forthcoming release, "Oh Lonesome Me", a cover of the Don Gibson USA hit. He also performed versions of "Let's Have a Party", "Jailhouse Rock", "Long Tall Sally" and "You Win Again", a number that Jerry Lee himself might have included.
During the tour, Terry's record sales improved but he was still denied the hit he was looking for. A further two Columbia singles followed but despite a first class offering of "Brooklyn Bridge" ( a Mel Tillis and Wayne Walker composition) and a superb cover of Johnny Strickland's "She's Mine", he failed to dent the charts. He also appeared regularly on BBC TV's "Top Tune Time" and the "Jack Jackson Show". However, shortly after this, management problems occurred between Terry's father and agent Sid Royce. During the legal wrangling, Terry's career was put on hold and he had to take work wherever he could get it, mainly on US Air Force camps (at least the Yanks enjoyed his style of music!)
In 1959, Terry appeared twice on the popular BBC Light Program radio show, "Saturday Club" with his band, the Dukes, featuring a whole host of rock and roll favourites including "She's Mine", "Mighty Mighty Man", "Boppin' the Blues" and "Just Because". These live recordings can be heard on the aforementioned Rollercoaster CD "The Terrific Terry Wayne" (RCCD 3030) available from Rollercoaster Records, Rock House, St. Mary's, Chalford, Gloucestershire, England, GL6 8PU or visit the website www.RollercoasterRecords.com.
Terry also recorded some private sessions for Bernie Andrews, the show's engineer. Bernie was taken with Terry's guitarist Lorne Green when he realised they had a mutual interest in Chet Atkins. These recordings can also be heard on the Rollercoaster CD. The bass player with the Dukes was Lennie Harrison whom Terry met on the "Jerry Lee" tour. Lennie was playing with Chas McDevitt at the time but joined Terry later in 1959. At last, Terry had an authentic sound with Lennie's upright bass and Lorne's appreciation of Chet Atkins shining through on guitar.
After the split with Sid Royce, Terry signed with the Lew Grade agency who, following dates with Johnny Kidd and Don Lang in 1960, secured tours in Sweden for Terry with the likes of Del Shannon and the Beatles. This was around 1963 and Terry decided to emigrate to Sweden in 1965 following his marriage to Kirsti, his first wife. In 1964 he cut four tracks for the Swedish Nashville label. On these recordings his style had changed somewhat and he began to sound more like Del Shannon than Carl Perkins.
Two of the songs, "Out of this World" and "I'm Not Gonna Be Your Friend", were written by Johnny Worth under the pseudonym Les Vandyke. Johnny had written many hits for Adam Faith. "I Love You", the Shannon styled tune was written by Terry himself.
Terry was also playing clubs in the North West of England and US air force bases in France at this time but following his marriage he settled in Sweden and continued with his music career up until 1988 when he joined the Swedish civil service. He did make a couple of recordings with the Waymen in 1991 for the Triola label. Two of these tracks "Chasing Shadows" and "It's Lonesome" also appear on the Rollercoaster CD.
Although Terry used Bert Weedon on his Columbia recordings and Lorne Green in the Dukes, he was, and still is, no mean guitar player himself. In the early days he played a customised Berkley guitar as well as a gold plated National Dobro. Later he changed to a Guild Starfire which purchased in London trading in a Gibson. When he played his dobro, he was known locally as "The Boy with the Gold Guitar".
Terry continued to play throughout the 90's in his spare time at both rock and country festivals in Sweden but throat cancer put paid to this in 2005. He recovered and following the release of the Rollercoaster CD, played gigs in the UK at London's 100 Club , the Wildest Cats in Town, The Railway Club in Wellingborough in 2008. He appeared at the Americana in 2009 and the Borderline Club in London with Roy Young in 2011. Co-inciding with this latter gig, Rollercoaster released a CD single of new recordings Terry recorded in Sweden with the Tom Rocker Band coupling authentic re-cuts of "Teenage Boogie" and "Matchbox".
This, then, is a brief resume of Terry Wayne's life and career from his early beginnings with his father, travelling to local gigs on a London bus, to the present day where he is still in demand both in the U.K. and his adopted home in Sweden. By rights, his story should have been much more in depth if only the British media and public had been more musically aware of his unique talents. He should have been able to record with more credible musicians as did Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde and Billy Fury. He should have been able to record more of the music he loved, maybe on album, as he was more than capable of producing gems like "The Sound of Fury". He was also extremely good looking (he still looks good today) ....maybe not fashionably moody looking like Fury but never the less had sufficient good looks to keep the teenage girls interested. This is a man whose talents were neglected, maybe not right at the start, but certainly afterwards. Only now, five decades after his first appearance on "6-5 Special" are we beginning to realise what has been missed and what could have been had things been managed different. Terry found most of his material himself by visiting the music publishers of Tin Pan Alley (Wardour Street in Soho) and sifting out rare American song titles that would otherwise have been lost. Ironically, despite his sterling efforts, he just missed out on "Endless Sleep" and Marty Wilde enjoyed his first big hit with the cover version of this great Jody Reynolds classic. Not wishing to take anything away from Marty (his version almost eclipsed the original) but had Terry secured the song in time, he may have got the break he was looking for. Terry performs "Endless Sleep" in his act today and has told me that he is in the process of recording more material with the Tom Rocker band. Let's hope this materialises and that he includes his version of the song that eluded him all those years ago.
Q: Was Terry Wayne "Terrific"?
A: Yes he was.
Q: Is he still "Terrific"?
A: More terrific than ever!
Page Created January, 2012