NPR logo Farewell Tom Terrell

Farewell Tom Terrell

1950-2007 Jeff the Purple hide caption

toggle caption Jeff the Purple

A friend of mine — and a friend to so many others — passed away.

I met Tom Terrell so many decades ago, I was in a band, and he was DJing at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.
His love of music spanned a world of tastes. Recently, Tom was writing for NPR: wonderful bits of personal thoughts, eloquent and funny essays, like the time he and his friends went to see Yes. Back in their early days, you didn't see many black folks at a Yes concert. You can hear his essay here.
Tom managed the band Steel Pulse and was a terrific reggae DJ on WHFS, as well as an inspired music journalist and publicist. He loved to spread to the word about all music great and small. I will miss his smile and his positive force — oh, and that wonderful, wonderful voice.

I've asked some friends who knew Tom Terrell to pass along some thoughts.
If you knew Tom Terrell, please add your memories.

—————————————————————————————————
The greatest cheerleader and friend I've ever known. Tom on the surface was a people magnet —- that infectious smile, quick fire humor, the hours upon hours of chatter, will all be missed. Beyond the surface he was a wealth of knowledge and well of genuine enthusiasm. I remember many occasions when he would describe a music or musician that I had never heard. I would always find myself feeling like I had just tasted the juiciest music on the planet —- just from his words. Tom's sister called him a "promosexual" on the day he died and I laughed and laughed.

Bill Warrell
producer ...or DCI Production

———————————————————————————————-
I never once spent time with Tom Terrell that I did not feel better for having been in his company. He was bright as a whip, funny as hell, and able to communicate his deep love for and knowledge of music to people from all walks of life. And whenever life or the biz were getting me down, he would grin and say in that gorgeous, radio-ready voice, "...but you're Christina Roden!" in a tone that had me convinced that this actually meant something, if only to him, which was more than enough. This was typical of his unstinting professional generosity and solidarity. You see, we were in the trenches together and we had each other's "back." I'll always miss him.
Christina Roden
Journalist, Producer, Publicist

————————————————————————————————-
First met Tom when he worked at a record store that an acquaintance ran on Capitol Hill sometime in the mid- to late 1970s. He was somebody I immediately liked. I imagine that was most people's experience with him. He talked me into writing a few record reviews for free for a newsletter the store put out. It was so much fun just to talk about music with him. We fell in and out of touch over the subsequent years. From time to time, he would pitch stories he wanted to do for NPR, but nothing ever panned out. This year, we got to work together on his last record reviews for NPR. His enthusiasm for music had not dimmed one bit, despite his health. And, at a time when I was going through a rough spot at work, he helped me feel that our work together was important and fun and interesting. He rekindled my enthusiasm. He gave me new life when his was slipping away. He was an inspiration, and I imagine he was for a lot of people.
Tom Cole
Editor
National Public Radio

—————————————————————————————————-
For me, he was our own "First Man About Town" — every place he went, Tom not only knew the owner, but anyone else there that mattered. Not only that, but they were glad to have his own brand of joy in the house. My life, and our city, is less without him.
Michael Jaworek
Promoter for The Birchmere

—————————————————————————————————

Tom Terrell was a lovely human being with a huge smile and a warm hug. His love of music was deep and infectious, and he used his prodigious knowledge and great writing skills to spread the word to people far and wide. He was much loved in the music community and will be sorely missed.
Tina Pelikan
ECM Records

————————————————————————————————-
I have this picture in my mind of the original long bowling-alley bar at dc space, way before we smashed through the wall to the barber shop that became the back bar, way before new wave and punk rock made its way to the loft (and nearly brought the ceiling down) when dc space was only open for lunch unless there was an avant-garde jazz concert or a performance art piece on a Friday or Saturday night, and that odd mix that inhabited our "cosmic neighborhood" bar is swilling down Harp lager or Whitbread Ale and there sits Tom Terrell, laughing and smiling and talking with everyone.
Michael Barron
friend, guitarist (Tiny Desk Unit)

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.