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In the tradition of many of his key influences, Terry Carolan is a songwriter and singer who covers a spectrum of pop-rock styles, while maintaining his very identifiable sound and character. He is one of an uncommon breed of songwriter who is able to include a plaintive, yearning waltz like “A Girl In A Men’s Magazine”, alongside the all out assault of “Somethin’s Right”, on one album. The variety his songwriting encompasses is reminiscent of The Beatles White Album, but then, that’s hardly a surprise…
Terry's irresistible attraction to music started very early as he listened to the pop songs of the day on Tampa’s AM radio stations, and like many others, seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show re-defined his world along with the world of pop music. At the urging of a friend, Terry signed on as a drummer in the school band. After the first semester though, he was un-ceremoniously ejected from the band for holding his drumsticks "like Ringo" and for failing to learn to read music. Undaunted, Terry soon joined his first rock band.
The next several years, Terry honed his skills as a drummer and played in original and cover groups. He also started playing guitar and writing songs. In 1974, as rhythm guitarist and backup singer, he joined Amnesia, a Tampa group that had been formed by former high school friends. Terry's time in the band was short, but enormously influential for him. The experience helped his songwriting coalesce and was the stepping off point for a succession of original music groups and recording projects in which Terry was either the sole songwriter, or a primary songwriter.
Shortly after Amnesia and still in Tampa, Terry formed Just Boys. The band gained regional notoriety from 1976 through 1978 while recording and shopping for a recording contract. In 1978 the group moved to Los Angeles, believing this would put them in a more vital musical environment. With good songs and some momentum from their 1977 Counterfeit Records single, Just Boys performed at key showcase clubs and were groomed by thier management company, but the band also started to unravel and by fall of 1978 the group disbanded.
Terry remained in Los Angeles, being invited to audition with groups including The Babys, Daddy Maxfield, Dwight Twilley Band, Badfinger and The Quick. Disappointed that none of these auditions panned out, Terry pursued an offer from The Pinups in Houston, joining the group in 1979 as guitarist/singer and one of three songwriters. The Pinups were a powerhouse live act and quickly became one of the top original music groups in Houston. In spite of packed shows, good press and some good songs in the can, Pinups began to develop internal problems and fell apart within several months. There were several incarnations of the group though and Terry rejoined the band again in 1983.
Between Terry's two stints in Pinups, he founded True Hearts, in Houston. True Hearts was formed primarily as an original group, based on Terry's songwriting, which was still melodic rock with strong choruses, but had evolved to a slightly harder rock/powerpop style. True Hearts (originally named The Flirt) maintained a busy performing schedule, along with regular recording sessions, releasing an EP in 1980. In 1982 True Hearts peaked when thier tune "Everytime" was selected for a compilation album put together and released by KLOL radio in Houston. Airplay helped boost the band's regional profile, but later that year, continuous travel and performing took its toll and with differences of direction developing within the group, True Hearts called it quits.
In Terry's waning days in Houston, he formed New Movies. The group was formed primarily around Terry's songs and was a powerful, but polished pop-rock band, putting strong emphasis on vocals. During the group's relatively short existence, they performed occasionally in the Houston area and focused on recording. Precipitated by differences of direction within the group and ultimately by Terry's relocation back to LA, New Movies called it quits in the summer of 1986. The band's four song EP remains unreleased to this day, except for Terry's song "Look Away", which appeared on the 2001 retrospective album "Playfields Of The Mind"
After New Movies, in Los Angeles, and at a crossroad, Terry decided to continue as a solo artist to avoid the recurring differences that had been the undoing of previous groups. Another important factor in his decision to go solo was that from the beginning, Terry’s songwriting covered the spectrum from introspective and intimate acoustic guitar or piano songs, to pure, well crafted pop songs, to powerpop and rock songs. Bands tended to be one dimensional in the tunes they could, or would, play.
In 1988 Terry teamed up with drummer/producer Matt Tucciarone and bassist Paul Tucciarone, recording what would become a cassette EP titled "Inbalance". It included Carolan’s tunes "Somethin's Right", "Bad Breaks", "No Conscience" and "Throw Your Wings Away". "Somethin's Right" was selected by The Album Network for inclusion on its "Unsigned Bands Volume 7" CD. In 1989 Carolan and Tucciarone returned to the studio, working with Danny Farragher on keyboards and Davey Farragher on bass. They recorded a second cassette EP named "River Of Promises", which included the songs "Souls Of Fire", "Hold On", "Ride Away" and "Mountains". This EP was released for promotion only but ended up on the playlists of three DJs in Belgium as well as receiving good reviews in Italy, England and Scotland. Despite the European exposure, the EP didn’t seal the deal for Carolan with publishing and record companies in the States.
Disillusioned with the record industry, Terry spent the next several months working in his home studio recording tunes including "Electric Jesus", "Big World" "Hole In The Sky" and "What I Know", He occasionally shopped these tunes for publishing opportunities, but this was also a turning point for Terry as a songwriter and a singer. No longer trying to please record companies gave him the freedom again to write whatever came out. The result was an eclectic, but somehow cohesive batch of material.
1991 brought a relocation to Austin, Texas and, despite the city's reputation as a music mecca, Carolan put down his guitar and pen and went into what one friend referred to as his "Picasso blue period". While he was conflicted by the decision, Terry vowed that he wouldn’t pick the guitar up again until he had a true, burning desire to do so.
After nearly five years, and relocation to San Jose California, Terry’s musical spark was re-ignited when old friend Gary Littleton asked him to contribute songs for a compilation album the pop magazine Audities planned to release. Carolan was energized by the offer, and with the help of Kip Millwee and Rubinoos Tommy Dunbar and Al Chan, recorded "Holly", "Confusion", "Solo Rita" and "Wake Up", all of which were included in the Audities album's lineup. Unfortunately for Terry and Audities, the album was completed and mastered, but never released. The effort did result in Terry being introduced to former Raspberries bassist, Scott McCarl. Terry, Scott and Kip Millwee recorded McCarl's tunes "Fallin' In Lovin'" and "Wait A Minute Girl" in Terry's home studio. Both songs were included on McCarl's 1997 Titan Records album "Play On".
Over the next few years Terry continued to work on various music projects. Key among them was to transfer his extensive catalog of recorded material from analog tapes of all shapes and sizes, into digital format, doing resoration and remastering at the same time. With much help from his friend and sometimes collaborator Kip Millwee, this project lasted nearly two years and culminated in nearly eleven hours of Carolan songs. Spurred on by Gary Heslin, long time friend and former bandmate, there was also the release of "Playfields of the Mind", a retrospective album containing unreleased songs that spanned a period of sixteen years. The "Playfields..." CD was available only through mp3.com.
In San Jose, Terry began working with Doug Caldwell and Mark Thorsell forming an acoustic group, performing mostly original tunes in an “unplugged” format, with heavy emphasis on vocals. The band, Daydream Believers, recorded and did occasional performances in the San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area and were joined on occasion by drummer Don Frank.
In 2002 International Pop Overthrow founder, David Bash, invited Terry (with the group) to play at that year's IPO show in LA, and Terry's tune "Holly" was included on the "International Pop Overthrow Volume 5" album. At this time, Terry also started doing solo acoustic gigs in addition to working live and in the studio with Daydream Believers.
In late 2005 Terry relocated again to Austin, Texas and continued performing as a solo artist doing solo acoustic shows and recording in his home studio for the next few years. In 2009 Terry made contact with Lee Elliott and Jeff Tracy of Blue Cartoon and they soon invited Terry to join the band. The group started working on their fifth album, titled "Are You Getting On", released in March of 2013. While the time spent in Blue Cartoon was rewarding in many ways, it was restrictive for Terry, and the band was determined to move in musical directions that held little interest for him. Shortly after the band had completed the album, Terry left the group.
While still in Blue Cartoon, David Bash introduced Terry to Ray Gianchetti of Kool Kat Musik, and Ray expressed an interest in releasing the album True Hearts had recorded in 1980. While an EP from the album was released, the album as a whole had remained in the can. On August 13th, 2012 "True Hearts" was released on the Kool Kat label and has since gotten solid reviews and has had steady sales. Between August of 2012 and June 2013, Terry had songs released on four different albums; The True Hearts album, the True Hearts song "If I'm Late" on the International Pop Overthrow album, a compilation album from Cheap Rewards called "Radio Ready" contained the True Hearts song "All My Time", and last, but maybe most significant, three songs included on the Blue Cartoon album; "Are You Getting On".
2014 brought focus to documenting the tragically hilarious saga of Just Boys; "Legends In Their Own Minds". Plans are to have the seventy page book released along with the remastered versions of all nine Just Boys recordings. Only "Hook, Line and Sink Her" and "Thanks A Lot" from the 1977 Counterfeit Records single have been released to date.
All of 2016, and into 2017, was dedicated to a project that happened spontaneously, but quickly became a deeply heartfelt project for Terry. In a long overdue collaboration, Terry Carolan, Ralph Smith, Robert Woodrich and Robert Watkins, under the name of Heirs Of Fortune, have completed recording of a new album; Circus Of Mirth. Released on July 7, 2017, Circus Of Mirth is a mature and sophisticated pop-rock album tapping the songwriting and singing of Carolan, Smith and Woodrich. The songs unfold around melodies, harmonies and choruses reminiscent of the golden age of pop from now legendary and iconic bands like The Beatles, Badfinger, The Beach Boys, Electric Light Orchestra and others. In a very low-key way, Circus Of Mirth memorializes Gary Littleton, friend and longtime supporter in the shared background of the Heirs Of Fortune members.