This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with Terry Johnson.
Terry Johnson, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and band member of the Flamingos, will perform with the group as they celebrate their Diamond Anniversary at the Suncoast Showroom September 5-6.
In 1954, Johnson (at age 16) recorded with a Baltimore group called The Whispers, (not The Whispers of the 1960?s), on Gotham Records in Philadelphia. He wrote, arranged and sang lead on “Fool Heart” and wrote, arranged and sang lead on “Are You Sorry,” released in 1955.
He brought that sound and talent to The Flamingos in 1956 with his first arrangement of music and vocals on “The Ladder of Love” and continued with writing and arranging, “Lovers Never Say Goodbye,” “Mio Amore,” “At The Prom,” “Heavenly Angel,” “You, Me and the Sea” and others, and also with his production and arrangement of “I Only Have Eyes For You.”
Johnson arranged the music, vocals and sang tenor on all of the songs on the albums “Flamingo Serenade,” “Requestfully Yours” and “Flamingo Favorites.” He sang on the duets such as “Lovers Never Say Goodbye,” “Love Walked In,” “Time Was” and “But Not For Me.” Johnson also sang the lead on some of their album cuts such as “I’m In The Mood For Love,” “When I Fall In Love” and “Beside You.”
After The Flamingos, Johnson formed his own group called Terry Johnson & The Modern Flamingos. When Nate Nelson left The Flamingos, he joined forces with Johnson. They recorded under the name The Starglows. They co-wrote and sang “Let’s Be Lovers” on the Atco Label, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. Johnson arranged the background vocals using his group.
Still working with his group, Johnson went to Motown Records as an artist and producing partners with Smokey Robinson. As an artist, he recorded several records on the Gordy Label. He wrote, arranged, and produced songs for Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Edwin Starr, The Spinners, Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers, Jimmy Ruffin, Mickey Denton, Blinky and other Motown artists.