Terry Reid in concert at Fillmore West and recorded on December 15, 1968. File under: Improbable but completely factual coincidences in life.
I was having lunch with my old pal and colleague Michael Ochs at our usual monthly hangout, The Spitfire Grill at Santa Monica Airport a few months ago. A great place where you can spend hours sitting around talking, in between landings of Cessnas. We got to talking about vocalists we’d seen “back in the day” who, for whatever reason, became overlooked with the passage of time. The name Terry Reid came up – we both saw him in 1968 during one of his early U.S. tours and remembered what a great voice he had, and there was that rumor he was asked to join the band that became Led Zeppelin, but turned it down. That was the story that stuck in everybody’s heads – not the great albums he made, but the great bands he decided not to be part of.
Our server came up and leaned over our table. ” Did I hear you mention the name Terry Reid?”. We both nodded. “Great singer, you know who he is?” I asked. “He’s my dad” the server answered, matter-of-factly. Not sure, but I think my jaw dropped onto the table. What would be the odds? Clearly, she knew him in a different way than we did, but we knew about him before she got started, so we filled her in on what a tremendous talent he was. “Still is” she added. Terry Reid is still around, still gigging and still kicking up a storm. And that’s gratifying to know, because anybody who spent any time diving into Rock in a big way towards the tip-end of the 60s had to be familiar with Terry Reid. He was one of the few vocalists who sported an unforgettable voice – piercing and emphatic and capable of soaring – slightly reminiscent of Steve Marriot. I always wondered what Led Zeppelin would have sounded like had he joined and not Robert Plant. One things for sure; we wouldn’t be having this post right now, and trying to convey to people who aren’t familiar with his work, what an astounding talent he’s been these past 50 or so years.
But – to get you up to moderate speed – I ran across a gig he played at Fillmore West in December of 1968, a gig I remember the L.A. version of quite well. I was hugely impressed with him then, and going-on some 50 years later, it’s still impressive.
If you only know Terry Reid by way of his famous Led Zeppelin story, take the next hour off and have a seat with this one. If you have no idea who Terry Reid is, be introduced to one of the truly stellar artists who provided the backbone for Rock in the 60s. Just remember, that not everyone who contributed massively to the history of something is singled out for their participation in it. Sometimes, it’s the ones who come in, astonish everyone and quietly walk back out are the ones you want to know about.
Terry Reid is definitely worth knowing about.