There is no part of the music business in which Billy Terrell hasn’t been involved in during a career that has spanned more than five decades. Since being discovered as a singer by New York TV dance-party host Clay Cole in 1963, Billy won acclaim as a vocalist, composer, arranger and record producer.
Though originally a singer of other’s songs, Billy soon began composing his own material. This led to a deal, in 1965, with the legendary Kama Sutra label. But fate, in the form of the military draft of the 1960s, intervened. Less than two months after joining the label as a writer/artist he was drafted into the army and served in Vietnam from May 1966 to May 1967. Upon his return, Billy found himself struggling with a radically changed world---and music industry.
Although the kind of R&B-inflected pop that was Billy’s specialty as a singer was no longer in vogue during the era of “underground” rock, Billy was undaunted. He simply turned his considerable talents to the behind-the-scenes realm, beginning a long, successful career as a composer and record producer. He wrote songs on his own, and with his longtime collaborator, and childhood friend, Ray Dahrouge.
Between 1968 and 1971 the team wrote songs for Debbie Taylor, The Moments, The Manhattans, The Persians, The Hesitations, Vivian Copeland, Timothy Wilson, Barbara Jean English, The Three Degrees, The Whatnauts, Phil Flowers, Terrell & Dahrouge among others.
Heading to the other side of the glass, Billy got into producing. Among his clients have been Gerald LeVert, Mikki Howard, David Clayton Thomas, Blood, Sweat & Tears, The Average White Band, Helen Reddy, Maria Muldaur, Lorrie Morgan, Michael Feinstein, Bobby Rydell, Gary Criss, Benny Troy, The Rhythm Makers and many others, including Frankie Avalon, whose chart topping 1976 disco remake of his 1959 classic hit “Venus” was conceived and produced by Billy.
In all, songs written and/or produced by Billy have made the national and international charts 59 times in 8 genres to date.
Shortly after turning his focus to jazz, he immediately found success producing five consecutive charted albums such as “Something Beautiful” with Bobbie Eakes, “Want You”, “First Last Kiss” & “Radio Show” with Tony DeSare and “The Strayhorn Project” with Don Braden and Mark Rapp. Having been heavily inspired by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff for many years, his pet project “Larry Carlton Plays The Sound of Philadelphia” a CD/DVD package was hugely successful.
Billy describes the project as: “A milestone any member of the Brill Building alumni would consider the highlight of their professional life”