Terry Ray Garland
June 3, 1953 – Sept. 19, 2021
The plainest way to describe the Terry Garland sound is to say he was an “authentic bluesman.” If you were ever lucky enough to catch his solo act in a club – singing, finger-picking, foot-stomping – it’s likely you have some feel for what is suggested by that particular term.
It’s also worth noting that Garland was quite an accomplished guitarist, which, of course, made taking in one of those live performances all the more entertaining. Some, who go back far enough to remember his early days based in Richmond, in the late-1970s/early-1980s, probably still think of him as the standout rock ‘n’ roll lead guitarist he was then.
Now, following his death, we will all have to settle for listening to the precious souvenirs of his sound – the recordings of a bluesman, plying his trade in an unfettered, yet crafted, style. Since the late-1980s, as a performer, he has mostly worked alone – picture a man seated on a wooden chair playing a National steel-body guitar.
Among Terry’s music associations in Tennessee were two bands in the mid-1970s: Jubilation and Razz. Moving on to Richmond, in the late-1970s, he played in Bull, fronted by Ray Pittman. Then his four years in the Offenders, 1980-1984, put him in front of a lot of packed house rock ‘n’ roll crowds. The Offenders, fronted by Bruce Olsen, were a popular band in the region.
That time was followed by a stint in a North Carolina-based blues-rock band, the Alka-Phonics. Then came decades of solo shows, performed for audiences all over the world.
Terry was born to parents Ray and Juanita Garland on June 3,1953, in Bakersfield, North Carolina, which is in the mountainous, western part of that state. He grew up some 35 miles away in the Johnson City, Tennessee, area. On September 19, 2021, according to his wife of 22 years, Jo, he died from advanced congestive heart failure in their Richmond home.
In addition to his wife, Terry is survived by his stepdaughter, Elizabeth Gerber; brother Ron Garland; niece Leigh Reid (Jeff); sister-in-law Carol Ann Grow (Bill); sister-in-law Chrissie Gerencher (Tibor); niece Emily Voss (Charles); nephew Matthew Grow (Michelle) and great nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his loyal canine companion, Clive.
“Trouble in Mind” (1991)
“Edge of the Valley” (1992)
“The One to Blame” (1996)
“Out Where the Blue Begins” (2001)
“Whistling in the Dark” (2006)
Speaking of Terry Garland
Gregg Wetzel: “RIP Terry Garland. A true original. Terry Garland was a space invader. When Terry wanted to make a point, which was often, he would get right in your grill and hold forth using the most colorful language he could summon, just so you knew it was from the heart and, of course from his considerable knowledge of things arcane and interesting. A wonderful guitarist and performer, a true believer and a sweetheart of a guy.”
Todd Woodson: “God bless you, Terry Garland. The real deal.”
Joe Sokohl: “Here is a man who recreated Robert Johnson, Johnny Winter, early Muddy Waters, in a style that remained uniquely Terry Garland. Yet he was by no means a ‘blues scientist.’ Instead, TG melded these influences to form his unique musical vision that always struck me in my heart.”
Wes Freed: “That man could pitch a wang dang doodle, all night long. A real troubadour.”
John Moser: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen any solo performer who could hold a whole room full of people together like Terry.”
Matthew “Zip” Irvin: “A musical titan – a great loss.”
Steve Payne: “I worked with Terry very closely in Bull and Bruce Olsen and the Offenders for about five years. I kept up with him loosely over the years, but always felt we remained very close on a cosmic level. Terry was one of a kind. A real character and a wonderful friend.”
Chuck Wrenn: “It was easy to become friends with Terry Garland and we hit it off right away. I met Terry in the ’70s, when the band he was in and the band I was in shared a rehearsal space in the Fan. Later, my partners and I opened the Moondance on 17th Street and it became a top live music venue hosting local and national acts. Terry played often to sold-out crowds and became a mainstay. But I think his performance at High on the Hog 20, in 1996, outshined them all. He had great respect for the past masters, still he had a way to bring his music to today’s forefront.
“Terry Garland was a true treasure. And he sure could pitch a ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ all right! RIP, Terry Garland.”
Notice from Jo:
At Terry’s request, there will not be a service or visitation. A wake will be planned in the future when it is safer for us all to gather. In the meantime, take comfort in your memories of him. He was such a vibrant and personable man and made friends wherever he went. Toast him with a good G&T. If you are so inclined, donations in his name can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Love and peace,
You will be missed my friend, one of the finest humans ever to walk this earth.
I’m missing my longtime friend and brother, Terry Ray. We played together in our first band in Jr. High School. I always knew he was going to be a musical great. I recall him telling me in high school “I’m gonna play guitar for a living. It’s the only thing I know how to do”. Of course that was not true, but he set his professional course early on with great determination. I had many of those very direct and forthright nose-to-nose conversations with Terry, mainly because we both danaged our hearing over the years. Terry would always tell it to you straight. He was such a huge part of my life, and continues to be. All my love to Jo, Ron, and the rest of the family. We were so fortunate to have had him our lives, and his legacy lives on.
Joann, so very sorry. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers Sincerely Millard and Judy.
With love, Terry’s my friend.
Wonderful person, friend, guitarist, and musician … Will be missed … RIP
I think of Terry often because his music is on my iPhone playlist so I hear him often. What a great musician! I love his music and wish there was more. Are there more unreleased recordings?
I lost touch with Terry when I moved to Europe in 2001 but have fond memories of his friendship. He generously performed at one of my ‘backyard’ parties in the late ’80s. His performances were unforgettable.
Always loved being with Terry. A great talent and made me laugh when we were together. Will miss him and so glad to have him in my life. God speed.
A true Blues artist…..and more! I saw him perform many times and it was always something I remembered…..to this day! I made him a DVD of one of his gigs and got to give it to him years ago. He put his heart and soul into his music with EVERY performance! You will be missed by so many Terry.
The music of TG , was powerful there was for sure a life force behind it , i was fortunate to see Terry play here in Belgium on numerous occasions . Terry has left a wonderful legacy . and as a result will be remembered fondly ….our deepest synpathy to Joanne and all the family
with best wishes
al and mayuklo johnson
RIP Terry. Thank you for the friendship we shared, and joy you gave to so many through your music.
Terry may be gone but his music and the memories he gave me will always be there, I will never forget the good times, the humor and the love he gave me and so many others that crossed his path. He will live forever in our hearts!,
I met Terry in the 70’s when he was playing with Bull. He was a stand out then & continued to be so through his career. He could rock a crowd as well as anyone I’ve ever seen! He would play a Sam Cooke song for my husband & I whenever we showed up for his shows during the 90’s ! I am blessed to have known him & that he called me his friend. The world is a quieter place without him. RIP dear one…
Had fantastic times with him over the years. Jo, All best
We enjoyed going to Down Home to hear Terry. Also some of our friends went too.Marvin our son wore his T shirt,so proud of him.
Terry was an extremely gifted musician that had a personality that just pulled you in and you always wanted to spend more time with him. He was always an interesting gentleman to me not only because of his music but also his breath of knowledge on a lot of different subjects.
The bottom line is he was a great guy- he accomplished a lot in his life- he married a great lady “Jo’ who loved him and he loved her back. He also lived life on his terms.
I am so happy that I had the ability to know him and will cherish him and his legacy until I see him again.
Then in very colorful language he will ask me why it took me so long to join him in a wonderful different and new world!
Some of the very best laughs ever , I had with TG. He was always the spirit of joy anytime he was around.
Always a great and accomplished musician, he found his voice with a Steel-bodied guitar, playing the old school blues.
Nobody in the business was more dedicated and sincere about the music.
Jo, I’m so sorry for your loss.
We will have to wait a spell to see Terry play again.
But, as always, it’s worth the wait.
Jo, my deepest condolences form me and my wife Greta,Ruben and Margot. Someone wrote that wherever you and Terry came you always made Friends.
Now is my friend forever in or hearts here in Bruges,Belgium. Whe love you Terry,and whit his words: now it is time for a “Duvel”
Terry, You were a Gem in this world and now you sing with the Angels! It was always a pleasure to make you my grand mother’s chicken and dumplings on the days you needed comfort food! Earth’s loss is Heaven’s gain!
We were very fortunate to have known Terry and witnessed his strong love for his Bulldog Clive. I will miss our conversations and our laughs. He was a wonderful, caring Dad to Clive.
Thoughts and prayers Joanne and family.
was my close friend from late 1978 through 1985. We played in several bands together and wrote songs during that time. I thought the world of him. He lived with my wife and me for a while in the early 1980s. We played more than a thousand shows together.
Even though I did not spent much time with him since the mid 1980s, I still considered him a band brother and a true inspiration. RIP
I thought of Terry today as I listened to the blues act on the radio performing at RFF..my wife and I used to go to his shows when we lived in the Fan..always one of our favorite performers.
His music, humor and spirit are gifts we will forever cherish.
I did not know that Terry had passed. He was a huge influence on me, and I would go to hear him play in charlottesville when ever he was in town in the early 1980s. Travel well, Mr. Garland.
I met Terry at Wright s Attic in the mid 80’s.
Never saw anyone play like him. The Guild guitar head together with duck tape, the Delta 88, no socks and two-tone shoes, a Bluesman. The National Steel he played was Beautiful and he played it so well. Terry became a friend and I would see him at different venues in Richmond and he was always enthusiastic, if the crowd was 15 people or 300 people.
Rest In Peace
I left Richmond 18 years ago. When I lived there, I would go from Carytown to Poe’s to listen to Terry with the slide on his finger and the mic by his stomping foot. One evening while listening to his music I wondered if he was still around Richmond and was saddened to find this page. I was honored to update his Wikipedia page.
Travel well, Terry Garland. I used to come hear you play whenever you were in Charlottesville in the 1980s. You were an inspiration and a relief for me, and I thank you for that. I wish your family peace, and am certain that you are jamming with brothers and sisters in the by and by.
I saw Terry play at Blind Willie’s in Atlanta back in the late 90’s. It was a riveting performance. The crowd was spellbound by his raw talent. He had a beer sitting on the floor inside a roll of duct tape. Everyone thought the beer was going to fly out with every stomp of his foot. I’ll never forget that guy. Fair winds and following seas, Terry.
As the proud principal of some school Belmont, I can confirm that Terry was indeed my man. Wang Dang Doodle was quite the song, the world wont be the same without Terry.
Man couldn’t have said it better my self. for the rest of my life i will be wang dang doodling.