817 Sherwood Terrace in Champaign, IL.
22 years later in New Jersey
single most important record executive in history's secretary wanted to hear a
tape? . . . . Are you kiddin' me?
I didn't even own a guitar! A half-hour later I was talking to Garry Tallent,
bass player for Bruce Springsteen's "E" Street Band, at his recording
studio in Long Branch, New Jersey.
I borrowed a guitar and drove down
the Garden State Parkway like a maniac. Recorded my four best songs in about twenty
minutes, drove like a worse maniac and had the tape to Columbia Records at 8:30
a.m. the next day!
Just four days later . . Mickey Harris (John Hammond's
secretary) called me at work and . . . and . . . . . she . . . she . . . . suggested
that I . . . move to NASHVILLE?
America" Cover Art (2001)
The Perfect Acoustic
(Martin 00C-1E . . 2000)
Guitars and Broken Hearts
by Terry Kelly
was born and raised in Champaign,
Illinois. The third of four boys, we grew up in the era of protest, the civil rights movement,
assassinations, Viet Nam, Walter
Cronkite, and of course, the Beatles!
Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison songs provided the soundtrack for a world in chaos. It was
a most peculiar time! We had guys playing golf on the Moon
while the Earth
was (and sadly still is) a violent, polluted, and War-torn mess. Thank God for Music!
George Kelley, who's real last name was Panturis (1930-2013) and Betty (my parents) moved the family to Georgia as the decade of the 1970's
began. Several years later, I had a couple of broken hearts, my first guitar,
and a Fine Arts Degree from Valdosta
State College (now University) in Valdosta, Georgia.
and guitar player Tom Bose (used to be Bosse, but he dropped an "s"
to make it easier to spell) and I began performing around college, mostly at the
girls' dorms. We were actually pretty good! We covered America, Poco, Eagles, James Taylor, etc. and we had somewhat of a local hit song that we
wrote called "Carolina Dreams", which I've since changed to "Carolina
Blue". Tom is a solid guitarist with a great voice and has gone on to a long and successful career as a christian artist. To this day I still write
songs with the chords and style of "Bosse and Kelley"! (I've since dropped
the "e" to make it easier to spell).
got accepted to UCLA Film School
and, in 1980, moved to L.A. After
just two weeks at the Brentwood Hotel, I moved back to Valdosta! (L.A. proved
to be too much for the man). Being a former college soccer stand-out at VSC, I
decided to become a professional soccer player (of course). One of my best friends,
Norman Scott, and I worked out for two years and finally got a try-out with the
Ft. Lauderdale Strikers of the old North American Soccer League. We came close,
but got cut in the final. I was a right-winger forward and center-mid player at
Valdosta and a fairly productive goal scorer and team leader in assists and yet,
inexplicably, decided to try-out for the pro level as a left-back on defense?
I went back to Valdosta and bought a new guitar! Traded in my Ovation for
an Alverez Cut-Away (it was the perfect acoustic guitar). Soon I was writing for
the Valdosta Daily Times and performing at the "Deli-Bar" on Northside Dr. on Tuesday night.
This place was packed every night of the week with college kids, Air Force guys,
and locals drinking pitchers of beer and enjoying anybody who could play some
Neil Young! Tommy Thompson and Steve Drummond were regular performers there and
made the "Deli-Bar" one of the great acoustic music venues of all-time!
It was the best of times. . . it was, well . . you know? With songs like:
"When it Comes to Ugly . . You Wrote the Book," "Sorority Girls," "Ted (Some People
Think he's Dead)," and a new song called "Webster
Street," soon people were coming to the Deli to hear some Terry Kelly? (It
was Ripley's!) I was more of a stand-up comedian and perhaps starting to become a folk singer/songwriter who could play a little acoustic guitar and blow a harmonica, almost like Neil Young. (Naturally).
After 10 years in "God's Country" that is South Georgia and surviving my college years in Valdosta and a couple of summers in Jacksonville, FL, it was time to take my act to
New York and follow in the footsteps of Bob
and Garfunkel, and (of course) the Smothers
Brothers, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman, Woody Allen, and George Carlin. If I could make
it in NYC, I could.
. . well . . . you know?
So, I said goodbye to the pretty little blond-haired
college coed I was engaged to marry and our gigantic (very large) apartment (legendary #7) at the corner of
Ashley (Hi-way 41) and "Webster Street!" We'd broken up 27 times before and the last time, as I was leaving, she told me to take out the garbage when I go?!!
I probably should explain that the song "Webster Street," was actually inspired by a springtime romance a few years earlier with a dark-haired beauty from Atlanta. Her real name is Laura, but another song that I wrote about her is "Kaley O'Riley," . . . "like Scarlet O'hara on Paces Ferry Road."
My guitar and I arrived in Upper
Montclair, New Jersey in September of 1985, just as one of those pesky hurricanes
was hammering the Northeast. Damn things find me wherever I go! My other best
friends, Rick and Michael Bellerjeau (and my personal "all-time" best
friend, Denise Folsom) helped me get situated and played a very big part in what
I consider to be, if not the "Best of Times", definitely the "most
interesting of times!"
I got a job writing for a group of Essex
County Newspapers, found me a tiny (perhaps smaller than tiny) apartment, and
began making the short trip to Greenwich Village, the known center of the Folk
Music Universe to check out the competition. When I walked through the door at "Folk City"
it was the same door Bob Dylan walked through just 25 years earlier. I was standing
on sacred ground, even if the place had moved a few years back!
main hangout in Greenwich Village was the Speak Easy on MacDougal St.
It took a while, but after playing every "Hoot" (open stage) in town,
I actually became a regular performer around the metro New
York area. Never made a lot of money, but opening for some of Springsteen's
and Southside Johnny's buddies in Jersey was very interesting! Never figured out
what they were thinking "havin' a guy from Georgia come out and do an acoustic
set before the R&B bands?" But, looking back now, it was a pretty good
I got a day job in the city and started carrying my guitar
to work. If you read the lyrics to my song "New
York Town," you'll know what happened next! Let's just say it involved
one guitar . . a winter coat . . and another broken heart. Isn't there some kind
of a limit? Never could replace that guitar!
Big Break? (Almost)
the summer of '87, I became a marketing assistant for Showtime/The Movie Channel,
located at 50th and Broadway. I was now working next door to the Brill Building,
where people like Paul Simon
worked, or at least liked to shop for records in the first floor record store, and just south of the Ed Sullivan Theatre, where the Beatles and Elvis conquered
the world. More sacred ground! For the next year music took a back seat as I began
to work twelve hours each day for Showtime, but that's when things started to
happen. Somebody knew somebody at Columbia Records!
Her name was Mickey
Harris and she was John Hammond's secretary (yes . . we're talking about
John Hammond Sr., who signed Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Billie Holiday, and was
working on Stevie Ray Vaughan's new album). Mickey said Mr. Hammond was too busy
and too ill to take on any new artists, but she would like to hear a tape . .
. SHE WOULD LIKE TO HEAR A TAPE??
The single most important record
executive/talent scout in history's secretary wanted to hear a tape? Are you kiddin'
me? I didn't even own a guitar! A half-hour later I was talking to Garry Tallent
(bass player for Springsteen's "E" Street Band) at his (then) recording
studio in Long Branch, NJ. To my surprise he booked me a one-hour recording slot
for that evening.
I borrowed a guitar and drove down the Garden State
Parkway like a maniac, recorded my four best songs in about twenty minutes and
then drove like a worse maniac and had the tape to Columbia Records at 8:30 a.m.
the next day. Four days later . . Mickey called me at work and . . . she . . .
she . . . she . . . . . suggested that I move to NASHVILLE?
Ironically, one of my last days in New
York, I was running to catch my bus after work and . . . as I ran past the Brill
Building . . . I knocked some little guy right on his butt! Yep' . . . you guessed
it . . . that little guy was Paul Simon! He got up . . . . (I was a good three or four inches
taller than he was!) . . . he gave me the "evil-eye look" for about
one second and then . . . . without a word . . . he disappeared into his waiting
limo, which was parked at the curb. Would of been nice to actually get yelled
at by Paul Simon . . . . don't ya' think?
I loved New
York and the Northeast, but got a little tired of the rain and snow, rats
the size of small dogs, and stepping over various body fluids and sleeping (or
worse) bodies, just to get to work. Not to mention all the nights I got stuck
in the city, after missing that last bus to Jersey. And so . . I moved south .
. to. . . . .
And the rest as they
say is . . . well . . you know . . history will tell you that I made Brevard
County my home. First Titusville, then Cape Canaveral, and currently Palm
Bay. I worked a little too hard and a little too long for a major over-nite express
company. I continued to play soccer in the East Coast Soccer League and spent
all my spare time writing songs, recording, and performing. I've played frequently
at local coffeehouses, from "Java the Hut" in Indian Harbour Beach to "Kool
Beanz," in Cocoa Village and several local festivals and events such as; "Seafest,"
"Melbourne Arts Festival," "Sanford Heritage Festival," "Cocoa
Village Fall Arts Fair," "Earth Awareness Concerts," and "Friends
of Florida Folk Benefits."
Best of all . . I've had the great
fortune to appear on Fred Migliore's
"FM Odyssey" program on WFIT
89.5 FM (National Public Radio, Melbourne, FL). Fred's show is the best thing
on radio . . period!
Cocoa Village in 2002 . . Photo by "Java" John Goldacker
January 1st of 2001, I self-released a sparse, solo-acoustic debut album/CD called
"Across America," which features several of my best and most popular
folk songs, like; "Florida Girl," "Across the Mason-Dixon Line,"
"Kaley O'Riley," "Indian River Joe," "Lay You Down, "
"Turn Back the Night," and (of course, every former dog's favorite?)
"When I was a Dog," . . oh . . and a little thing about lost love in
a small southern town, called "Webster Street."
a ghost standing down in the midnight
And she's haunting my memory . . .
see her standing there with that sad look in her eyes
Tonight . . . on Webster
Street . . . "
And the coolest thing was finding out that Sir Paul McCartney is actually a cousin on my mother's side of the family tree. Very Kool!