Friday, June 22, 2007

Frank Terry 1938-2007

As any musician knows, the difference between a good song and a great song is the drummer. Usually in the background, often times pounding away in relative obscurity, it’s the drummer who provides the backbone to the song, as well as its vitality and spark. Frank Terry was the Ringo Starr, Hal Blaine, and Gene Krupa of Boss Radio 93/KHJ. Originally a drummer himself, Frank Terry, more than any other Bossjock (even Morgan & Steele) set the template for the Boss Radio format and was its most consistent performer. He was the guy who broke in the other Bossjocks. He was the guy who worked every shift, often going months at a time without a day off. The beat had to go on and he was the drummer.

There was no more versatile performer in radio. The two biggest rock stations in America in the mid 60’s could not have sounded more different. KHJ Los Angeles was ultra streamlined, WABC New York was all bells and whistles (chimes actually) – organized chaos. Only one disc jockey ever worked both formats. Frank Terry at KHJ and later at WABC’s sister station and clone in San Francisco, KSFX. You just gave him the charts and he could play.

Later Frank moved into country radio at KNEW and KSAN in the Bay Area. He could bang on washboards as well as snares.

Wherever he went, two things were certain. He made every station he ever worked for sound the very best they ever did, and he dented every console, cart machine, and music stand in the studio with his drum sticks.

Radio has lost a giant. Terrence Franklin Crilly. Better known as Frank Terry. For those of us who knew and loved him, he will always remain in our heart… beating and beating and beating.


Anonymous said...

Very good, Ken. I'm beginning to sympathize with the old railroad men of the 1920s who would reminisce about the even older railroad men who were dying off. To say that we'll never see their like again is true not just because of some perceived loss of a generation of giants, but because the circumstances that made their work possible are disappearing.
When I listened to radio in the sixties the DJ was a kind of demi-god, in charge of the whole show, blasting his personality over the airwaves and directly into your soul. Or so it felt. Having "appointment radio" with your favorite DJ, listening at home and then to the same station in the car, learning the catchphrases, you became part of a would-be secret society. Often the DJ was a bigger force than many of the musicians who made the records he played.
It's gone, and I miss it the same way Mark Twain missed steamboats on the Mississippi River. The first step to being a nostalgic old man is to be an enthusiastic youngster, because your youth will disappear. But the present has its virtues. Hey, here we are on your blog, where you get to spread your word to anyone in the world. Not so bad, eh?

Rob said...

Ken, can you explain "boss" radio?

I'm 36, so I kind of got the last gasp of great radio, especially AM. Here in Louisville, KY, we had a hugely popular AM station called WAKY -- 790. At one time, DJ Bill Bailey was the "Duke" of Louisville, and I fondly remember listening to him in the back of my mother's Gran Torino station wagon (which had its own zipcode) out of these big, but lousy sounding speakers. The station even made soft rock history during that time when Gary Guthrie from the station created a fake duet between Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond on You Don't Bring Me Flowers (which the two later sang together and had a number 1 with).

The station flipped away from top 40 years ago, and then changed formats and some idiot gave up the call letters (WACKY!).

Anyway, there is a great website devoted to the station at

My word verification: whotakl -- What happens when Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend play football.

By Ken Levine said...

As nostalgic as I am for those gone forever days of radio, in this case I'm really celebrating the man more than the career.

But you're right. Today's innovations are pretty cool. Someday when you're old you may find yourself waxing on to your grandchildren about the good old days when people had blogs.

Jack Friday said...

Ken, I can't agree with you more. Frank was one of the best I knew in so many ways. He lived hard and fast in those KFRC days and loved every minute of it.
His honesty and humility were traits that matched his wit and talent.
I could barely drink or shave when I met Frank.
I do remember when I first arrived to work at KFRC coming from the east coast where I was doing afternoons in Washington, DC. Frank, John Catchings and I were leaving KFRC at 415 Bush and walking up the hill on Bush, when Frank (wearing his cowboy hat, denum jacket, boots and jeans) felt obliged to 'command' me to "get rid of that damn sportcoat and tie (I was wearing)...if you're going to be working with the rest of us at KFRC!" I promptly did.
We shared studios at both KFRC and KSFX and had a hell of time during those years. Late nights at Enrico's, Vanessi's as well as dark dingy dives (Han-il) and classy (Bankers Club) watering holes all over the city. It was a time when both radio and tv people socialized together. It seemed as though we traveled in packs. I don't remember ever being out alone. It was fun. Those were special years that I'll never forget. Frank was always a part of things. The swearing, the fights, the drinking, the women, the food, the friendship. Frank was bigger than life then...and I'm sure he still is.
You know he's still drumming, this time on a cloud.
Jack Friday

Anonymous said...

Really always enjoyed the warmth, humor, hipness and humanity of this man all rolled into one air act when he was on the radio in LA. Condolences to his family. May he rest in peace.

I too had read that he was an excellent drummer. In all seriousness - and I would imagine he might like this last laugh, I think his headstone should read, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beat's Moved On."

Anonymous said...

in the words of the great frank terry, always remember "yes you can"

thanks for making radio in the 60s so much fun !!

oryxer said...

very informative. i like u r post very much.

Thomas / @5ifthproject said...

Ken, your site is loaded with information, i love it.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

A heartfelt tribute...

Elton John, 'Funeral For A Friend' (In Memoriam: Frank Terry)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I just found this blog.

I've worked in radio for 30 years, and really hate what it has become, with corporate ownership, etc.

I only saw Frank Terry through film: in the Stones movie "Gimme Shelter". But to me, he and others of his time epitomize radio in its finest hour.

It ain't the same no more...but it's still fun.


Anonymous said...

I am saddened to here of Frank’s passing. I was fortunate enough to have met Frank while he was working with KSAN and KNEW (who were business clients of mine) radio. Frank was every bit the great person and willing to help out anytime he could. Thanks Terrence!


Unknown said...

Frank Terry was my borther. We worked together at KFRC in the late 60s and early 70s- and he was like my older brother. Frank, Charlie and i were a team and i miss them now. Sorry to say that i did not know Frank had left us...God bless!

Music Production said...

Mr. Frank is really a legend and gift to music industry. I am his great fan.

Anonymous said...

My father (Bill Abbott) was a part of the team at KFRC/KSFX. I remember as a teenager taking the streetcar to 'the station' and hanging out in the newsroom and listening to all of the DJs and the news team. It was a wonderful time for me and I bet as an adult the times would have been better. Like Frank my father has passed on but the memories of KFRC remain.

gpaetz said...

What year was it (probably around 1961 - 1963) when Frank Terry did a drumming marathon? I was about 12, and I remember it went to about 100 or 120 straight hours. Pretty cool.

cuteowllady147 said...

Frank Terry and Jim Price were partners with my late parents, Ted and Ethel Butts when they ran a teenage night club back in 1960 t0 1962 in Fresno Calfornia called The Stingray Club every Friday night from 7pm to 12 midnight and had special guests such as Dick and DeeDee, The COASTERS ETC. fun times.

GZapoleon said...

Hi Ken, was posting on Facebook and a song came to mind that was pure Frank Terry. "Didn't It Rain" by great spiritual singer Evelyn Freeman(Roberts)

I'd forgotten that he was a drummer but it was apparent when you listened to him. His entire show was like a song where he was playing drums and his delivery was always precise like a drumbeat. My childhood friend and future radio talent Jeff Prescott and I loved him, and he was our favorite on KHJ. We called him "The Cooker" because his shows had such incredible energy, they "cooked" and kept middays moving for the listener.

GZapoleon said...

Hi Ken I'd forgotten that Frank was a drummer but it was apparent when you listened to him. His entire show was like a song where he was playing drums and his delivery was always precise like a drum beat. My good friend and future radio talent Jeff Prescott and I would listen to Frank on 93 KHJ he was our favorite and we called him "The Cooker" because his shows literally "cooked" with energy and his show moved the listener through their middays routines. This song always reminds me of because you heard lower charting songs that should have been hits especially and Frank would pick the greatest left field R&B hits to play like this everyone has been saying I miss these incredible personalities that were "hits" they were larger than life and a huge draw to the radio station just like the music they were playing.