I was 14 years old, just learning to play guitar to a book called ‘The Music of John Denver Made Easy For Guitar’…which I still have…when I ‘discovered’ an album with a funky cover and, for a young Christian, first heard the most amazing music of my young life.
We were at an event for our church youth group at our pastor’s house and while everyone else was playing games, laughing, eating and have a blast, I sat at the end of the sofa and listened to that album three times, both sides. (LP vinyl…remember?)
The album was the eponymous, first custom album by The Pat Terry Group, and to say it had an impact on me would be more than an understatement.
Like many young Christians of that era, especially in the south, The Pat Terry Group definitely had a larger than life sense about them. World class in what they did yet very approachable. Going to see The Pat Terry Group was an event those of us who cherished Pat’s songs marked on our calendars and counted the weeks and days with anticipation.
I lost count how many times I saw them in concert. I remember seeing them in Macon at Mulberry Street United Methodist; the Atlanta Civic Center, backed up by the string section of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the debut concert for their ‘Songs of the South’ album; some funky outdoor festival in the middle of no where, Kentucky; the Jesus Music Festivals of 1976 and 1977 and lots of places in between.
Somehow, along the way, I got to know the guys in the group…mostly through their graciousness and patience; answering a million questions of a young guitar player wannabe fascinated by the wonder of their music.
I am grateful to have way more memories than I can count that were born from that night, sitting at the end of the sofa.
Sonny Lallerstedt; for some reason, I was able to make him laugh and we connected first. One of my favorite memories with Sonny and his wife Becky was the time I rode a Greyhound bus from Perry to Marietta to spend the weekend with them, as Sonny was going with me to help me pick out my high school graduation present; a new Fender Stratocaster guitar.
He got me a beauty! Sonny, with musical gifts beyond anyone I have met since, loved the way that guitar sounded and looked and I remember that night, sitting in his music room, holding that guitar and trying to play it where he could not hear me. (kind of like, a swine before pearls thing.) It was about 10:00 PM when the phone rang. It was my parents calling needing directions to Sonny and Becky’s house. It seemed that my trip was cut short as I had to take the SAT’s in Macon the next morning and that ‘minor task’ slipped off the radar.
The Pat Terry Group actually used that guitar on two songs on their ‘Heaven Ain’t All There Is’ album. That guitar was rocking cool but was stolen during a move between apartments when I was living in Athens, GA. (Sonny helped me get another Strat, which I still have today.)
The Pat Terry Group has a big impact on the music of that time. Pat’s songs were recorded by just about ever major artist in that genre and after half dozen albums or so and umpteen years of touring, marriages and babies, the group disbanded. Sonny and Randy (Bugg) formed ‘Twelve Oaks Recording Studio’ and became ‘Nine to Fivers’ while Pat began a solo career that lasted for three albums and since then has continued in music doing what I believe he does best…writing songs.
I still stay in touch with Sonny and Becky and count them amongst two of my dearest friends ever. Pat and Pam are the godparents of our youngest daughter, Katie and ‘honorary’ godparents of our oldest daughter Anna.
Pat has never stopped writing. In the years since he last recorded he has continued to write some of the most thoughtful, profound and brilliant songs I have ever heard. In the time that has passed since ‘The Silence, Pat’s last solo effort, I have been gently ‘selling’ him on the concept of a new Pat Terry album, that the world needs more of his music, played by him, sung by him.
Today, I am please to announced ‘I closed the sale’. Actually, the deal was closed a long while back but between his regular trips to Nashville, making a living with his songs being recorded by the likes of Alan Jackson, Tanya Tucker, Kenny Chesney, Travis Tritt, The Oak Ridge Boys, John Anderson and more, the album taken a while to complete.
So, I am happy to share with you that the new Pat Terry album is finished. ‘Laugh For A Million Years’ is done, mixed and being produced as I type. Look for it in early December on iTunes and via Pat’s Website www.patterryonline.com.
If you ever owned a Pat Terry Group album or one of his solo records, ever heard him in concert, ever heard anyone else record one of his songs…get his new CD. I am confident that you will agree, good things do come to those who wait.