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Terry Timmons

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  • Years Active: 1950s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Terry Timmons was one of those vocalists of the late '40s and early 1950s whose work, like that of her musical role model, Dinah Washington, helped bridge the gap between big-band-style blues and the leaner R&B sounds that followed. She was born in Charleston, WV, in 1927, but the family moved to Ohio soon after, and she spent her childhood in Cleveland. She began singing professionally while still in her mid-teens, and while playing the Cafe Tio Juana she was spotted by no less a figure than Paul Gayten, who engaged her as a replacement for Annie Laurie, who had lately departed his stable of artists. She moved to Chicago in the late '40s and crossed paths with Memphis Slim, through whom she was signed to Premium Records, the label for which Slim was recording at the time. She was a featured performer at Slim's shows at the end of the 1940s and the start of the 1950s, around the time of her first recording sessions, which yielded "Eating My Heart Out for You" and "Worried Woman Blues." Those were very traditional-sounding, '40s-style big-band vocal blues, but the other two songs from those sessions, "Ain't Supposed to Be Like That" and "Your Key Won't Fit My Door," offered leaner, smaller-scale accompaniment with a harder beat.

She was back cutting more sides for Premium in 1951, but when the label -- which was seriously underfinanced from the get-go -- went belly-up that year, Timmons found her masters sold to RCA Victor, along with her recording contract. She cut sides for Victor in New York, but also did some under-the-table recording for the United Records label. She was still busy working with Slim into the mid-'50s, and she was generating sides that were -- despite their large-scale accompaniment -- accessible to early-'50s listeners out for something harder in R&B. Timmons' recording career reportedly ended in the mid-'50s, when her then-current boyfriend, who fancied himself a talented musician, botched the accompaniment on a set of sides. She supposedly signed formally with United at some point in the mid-'50s, when she was still appearing in the area around Chicago. No recordings resulting from this contract are known to have ever appeared, however, and Timmons disappeared from recorded music after 1955. Her sides with Memphis Slim are far and away the highlights of her recording career, however, and any collection of this sadly lost R&B talent that contains them is worth owning.