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Terry Callier

Terry Callier

Terry Callier is an artist that has a special place in the heart of Mr Bongo.

Born in Chicago, he was a childhood friend of Curtis Mayfield, Major Lance and Jerry ButlerIn 1962 he took an audition at Chess Records, where he recorded his debut single, "Look at Me Now". He met Samuel Charters of Prestige Records in 1964, and the following year they recorded his debut album. Charters then took the tapes away with him into the Mexican desert, and the album was eventually released in 1968 as The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier.

In 1970 Terry joined the Chicago Songwriters Workshop set up by Jerry Butler. He and partner Larry Wade wrote material for Chess and its subsidiary Cadet label, including The Dells' 1972 hit "The Love We Had Stays on My Mind", as a result of which he was awarded his own recording contract with Cadet as a singer-songwriter. Three critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful albums followed, produced by Charles Stepney: Occasional Rain(1972), What Color Is Love (1972), and I Just Can't Help Myself (1974).

Cadet was sold in 1976 and Terry was then dropped from the label. The following year, he signed a new contract with Elektra Records, releasing the albums Fire On Ice (1977) and Turn You to Love (1978).

Callier continued to perform and tour until 1983, when he gained custody of his daughter and retired from music to take classes in computer programming, landing a job at the University Of Chicago and returning to college during the evenings to pursue a degree in sociology. He re-emerged from obscurity in the late 1980s, when British DJs discovered his old recordings and began to play his songs in clubs. Acid Jazz Records head Eddie Piller reissued a little-known Callier recording from 1983, "I Don't Want to See Myself (Without You)", and brought him to play clubs in Britain. From 1991 he began to make regular trips to play gigs during his vacation time from work.

In the late 1990s Terry began his comeback to recorded music, releasing the album Timepeace in 1998, which won the United Nations' Time For Peace award for outstanding artistic achievement contributing to world peace. 

As well as touring internationally, Callier continued his recording career, releasing five albums after Timepeace, including Lifetime (1999), Alive (2001), Speak Your Peace (2002), Golden Apples of the Sun (2003), and Lookin' Out (2004). May 2009 saw his album Hidden Conversations featuring Massive Attack released on Mr Bongo records.

The legendary Terry Callier recorded six albums for Mr Bongo – a true great.


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