Terry Callier

Terry Callier (May 24, 1945 — Oct. 27, 2012) was an American singer/songwriter from Chicago whose songs appear on 1970s albums by Jerry Butler, Dee Dee Sharp, and The Dells. Singed to Cadet as a solo artist, he released three well-regarded albums: Occasional Rain and What Color Is Love (both 1972) and I Just Can’t Help Myself (1973). Later that decade, he reemerged on Elektra with the 1978/79 albums Fire and Ice and Turn You to Love.

He was born Terrence Orlando Callier on May 24, 1945, on the North Side of Chicago, where he was raised in the crime-addled Cabrini–Green housing project. As a child, he befriended local lads Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield (both future Impressions) and Major Lance. In his teens, he practiced piano and sang in doo-wop groups.

During the early 1960s, Callier performed at Chicago folk clubs. He briefly formed a duet with a young David Crosby, performing as far as New York’s Greenwich Village. Folk singer Lynn Gold recorded Callier’s “Anathea” for her self-titled album, released in 1963 on Warner Bros.

On July 29, 1964, Callier entered Chicago’s Webb Recording studio with producer Samuel Charters of Prestige Records. Though intended for an album, the tapes from this session disappeared when Charters fled to Mexico.

Four years later, the tapes resurfaced without the artist’s knowledge on The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier, released in 1968 on Prestige. It features eight traditionals, including “900 Miles,” “Promenade in Green,” and “Johnny Be Gay If You Can Be.” The songs “It’s About Time” and “Spin, Spin, Spin,” credited to Kent Foreman, were also recorded by psych-rockers H.P. Lovecraft for their 1968 second album H.P. Lovecraft II.

In October 1968, Callier made his first proper release on Cadet: “You Goin’ Miss Your Candy Man” (b/w “Look at Me Now”), both co-writes. He supposedly cut the b-side as early as 1962 for Chess. It also appears as a bootleg a-side (b/w “Ordinary Joe”).

In 1970, Callier joined the Chicago Songwriters Workshop, established by Jerry Butler, and formed a writing partnership with Larry Wade, who sang in the group Infinity with Jerry’s younger brother Billy Butler.

During 1970/71, Callier’s songs were recorded by numerous artists, including Jerry Butler (“Do You Finally Need a Friend,” “Winter of a Loving Heart“), Anna Ferrari (“I Don’t Want to Loose You“), The Rotary Connection (“Song for Everyman“), Garland Green (“You Can’t Get Away That Easy“), and Billy Butler & Infinity (“Now You Know“). The Dells scored a hit with Callier’s “The Love We Had Stays on My Mind,” included on their 1971 album Freedom Means…. Impressed with these results, Cadet signed Callier as a singer-songwriter.

(More to come…)


  • The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier (1965)
  • Occasional Rain (1972)
  • What Color Is Love (1972)
  • I Just Can’t Help Myself (1973)
  • Fire on Ice (1978)
  • Turn You to Love (1979)


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