Born in Vancouver in 1949, Terry Black was a child star who got his start singing on local TV variety programs. He was discovered by agent Buddy Clyde while watching him on “Teen Dance.” It was the height of the British Invasion, which Black mimmicked, so he had no problem getting the attention of Bill Gilliand of Arc Records.
His first single, “Sinner Man” in ’64 got decent airplay but it was the follow-up later that year, “Unless You Care,” b/w “Can’t We Go Somewhere” when he was still 15, that broke him internationally. The song featured Glen Campbell and Leon Russell (studio musicians at the time), and along with reaching #2 across Canada, it also cracked the US Billboard Hot 100. This made Black one of the few Vancouver area artists to achieve that feat. Underground Records also licensed the song as the flip side to Shirley Matthews’ “Big Town Boy” single.
Black managed to land himself opening for Lonnie Mack, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, and Gerry & The Pacemakers on the Canadian leg of their tour, which helped his star rise. Along with an appearance on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand,” he also won the Male Vocalist of the Year award at the 1964 Maple Music Awards. A string of top 20 Canadian singles followed, including “Little Liar,” and a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Only Sixteen.” The latter also served as the title track when Arc released Black’s debut album in ’65.
His father landed a job in California, which played into management’s hands of turning Black into a crossover hit on the silver screen. Black was even cast in a script as Elvis’ brother, but the gig never materialized. he family growing weary of the Hollywood life, Black and his family moved to Toronto.
He continued to record music, including the top 20 Canadian hits, “Baby’s Gone,” “Poor Little Fool,” and “Rainbow.” His sophomore album, THE BLACK PLAGUE, which also contained alternate versions of a few earlier hits, was released in ’66. He started doing the club circuit which gained him critical praise as a developing artist. A year later he joined the Toronto musical production of “Hair,” where he met Laurel Ward.
They were married in 1970, and in ’72 they both appeared on Dr Music‘s debut solo album. Into the early ’80s they also relased several singles as Black And Ward. Their biggest hit was in 1972 – “Goin’ Down On The Road To LA” from their ALL NIGHT LONG lp.
In ’79, he also contributed the song “Moondust” on the Meatballs soundtrack. Throughout the 1980s, Black did jingles for beer and car advertisements while trying to reinvent himself as a country artist and teaming with his wife. 1982 also saw the release of his last single, “Waves of Emotion” b/w “Wild Out” on Duke Street Records, while several of his songs also made it to a number of Canadian and Toronto compilation albums. In ’95 LA based Varese Sarabande Records considered releasing an anthology and a few new tracks, but the project never materialized.
Black also gained critical acclaim as an artist, painter, and sculptor. He developed Multiple Sclerosis in the late ’90s, and all but retired from the business. Now divorced from Ward, in 2000 both of Black’s solo albums were re-issued by Unidisc Records. After hosting an oldies radio show for several years, he died at age 60 in Kamloops in June, 2009 from complications from MS.