Terry Manning began in the music industry in El Paso, Texas. He fronted several local bands, notably The Wild Ones, and on two occasions also sat in on rhythm guitar with his friend Bobby Fuller's band. Bobby had a big following in El Paso at the time, and one of his local hits was "I Fought The Law," released on his own label, Eastwood Records. It was apparent that there was no extended future in music in El Paso, so soon, Terry (and Bobby) had decided to move on. (Bobby chose the West Coast, and landed in LA where "I Fought The Law" was re-cut, and became a worldwide smash. He unfortunately met an untimely death not long after, under mysterious circumstances. Terry chose Memphis, where a lot of music he liked was being made. Songs like "Walkin' The Dog" by Rufus Thomas, and "Last Night" by The Mar-Keys had caught his ear…
Terry, barely a teenager, walked boldly into Stax Records and announced that he was there to engineer, produce, write...whatever they needed! Crazily enough, Steve Cropper put him to work. Terry began as an assistant engineer, performing duties from sweeping up the floor, to making tape copies, to engineering sessions when someone who was supposed to be there didn't show up. Unlike several engineers or producers who today claim to have engineered at Stax, Terry actually worked there! He had an office in their famous building at 926 East McLemore (now the site of the Stax Museum), in the area that had once been "Slim Jenkins' Joint." In fact, he took that office over from Isaac Hayes, when Isaac moved upstairs to fancier digs. Simultaneously, Terry also began working at Ardent Studios in Memphis, as their first employee. Ardent was just moving from the “garage” of owner John Fry to its first "professional" location on National Street. Terry there engineered many of the sessions, typed bills, solicited clients, and of course continued to play in local bands at night. Ardent quickly assumed a reputation as being on the cutting-edge of multi-track technology, and many Stax Records artists, Hi Records artists, as well as R & B, blues and rock groups from New Orleans, Muscle Shoals, Nashville, and the surrounding South, came to use their services. In addition to John Fry, Terry was privileged to learn on the job with such artists and producers as Isaac Hayes, Ike & Tina Turner, Willie Mitchell, Al Bell, Jim Stewart, Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, Eddie Floyd, Al Green, Rufus Thomas, Sam & Dave, Billy Eckstine, Otis Redding, The Boxtops, William Bell, Percy Sledge, The Staple Singers, Piano Red, Furry Lewis, Mississippi John Hurt, The Gentrys, Dan Penn, Johnny Taylor, Leon Russell, Ronnie Milsap, and many others. Al Bell, co-owner of Stax, soon took Terry under his wing, and made him an integral part of the production team for The Staple Singers, whose production responsibilities he had just assumed from Steve Cropper. Bell and Manning quickly teamed up for "Heavy Makes You Happy," which became the Staples' first true crossover hit. It was followed by "Respect Yourself," which was even bigger, and then "I'll Take You There," which became one of the biggest hit singles of all time. The Staple Singers, led by Mavis and Pops Staples, had many more hits under the Bell/Manning team. Bell was the producer (as well as the author of "I'll Take You There,") and Terry was a co-producer and the engineer; Manning also wrote songs for The Staples, and arranged and conducted many of the instrumental overdubs, including full orchestra. He also played many of the guitar parts, as well as harmonica, marimba, percussion, etc. One of Manning's compositions, "Heaven," first recorded by The Staple Singers, was later covered by several artists, including Silent Rain, who had a platinum European smash with the song, and the Manning-produced version by Joe Cocker, which sold over four million units. Terry also was assigned the daunting task of overseeing the live recording of the WattStax festival, held in The Los Angeles Coliseum before 105,000 people, and filmed by Wolper Productions for motion picture release by Paramount. The audio was recorded by Wally Heider Recording, with engineering liaison by Manning between Heider, the various Stax artists, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Al Bell. Manning then performed the mixing at Glen Glenn Sound on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, with mammoth overdub recording at various LA studios, and oversaw the insertion of the mixed audio into the soundtrack. (WattStax has recently been re-released on DVD.)
As chief engineer and manager of Ardent Studios, Manning had worked with much of the area's talent, and during The Box Tops' sessions, had become friends with Alex Chilton, the group's lead singer. Terry produced a solo alum ("1970") on Chilton which fell between the cracks of the tape vault until its discovery and release in 1996, and recent re-release in 2012! Terry teamed up with his then-best friend Chris Bell, Jody Stevens, and Tom Eubanks, to form the legendary group ROCK CITY, the progenitor to BIG STAR. The album they recorded also didn't see release until many years later, when Lucky Seven released it in 2003. So when John Fry, with Terry, started the new Ardent Records label in 1971, Alex Chilton was a natural signee with his and Chris Bell's new group, BIG STAR. Also to emerge from the label's stable was Cargoe (produced by Terry,) and in England, Manning discovered and recorded B.A. Robertson, who later went on to become a recording star and composer in the UK. Terry also recorded his own solo album, "Home Sweet Home," which was licensed for release on Stax's Enterprise label. ("Home Sweet Home"(plus three extra tracks) was re-released on CD by Sunbeam in 2006, and was voted Best Reissue of 2006 by The Village Voice. In 2012, the original version was reissued on vinyl by 4 Men With Beards.) He engineered, produced, and played almost all of the instruments, except drums, and several guitar parts by Chris Bell. This album has now become a "cult" classic, and is highly sought after by collectors.
When producer Peter Asher wanted Memphis horns or other musicians, he called Terry, who coordinated the project, and engineered the sessions. James Taylor was one of these artists, and the subsequent album, "Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon," was another huge hit. When Leon Russell wanted to learn about the then-new technology of music synthesis, he came to Manning, who had just returned from Trumansburg, New York, where Terry had spent many long days under the tutelage of Robert Moog. Moog had just taken his new invention, the commercially viable music synthesizer, to the marketing stage, and Manning wanted to know about it. So Terry went to see Moog, and learned straight from the horse's mouth! When Leon Russell found out about this, he came to Manning, who showed Leon some of what he had learned, and then set up his Moog IIIC synth (purchased from George Harrison and Robert Moog), and he and Leon overdubbed on what became "Stranger In A Strange Land," Russell's early hit.
Terry Manning's other major interest is photography. He shared this interest actively with several friends, one of whom was William Eggleston. Eggleston is widely regarded today in museum and photography circles as the greatest colour photographer of all time. Manning also, through Eggleston, met and worked with other great photographers such as William Christenberry, Lee Friedlander and Diane Arbus. Eggleston and Manning, along with other participants (including Chris Bell), pursued still photography, motion picture and video tape photography, and other related "art" forms. Manning took photographs under contract of many rock artists, both for the artists themselves, and for music newspapers such as The New Musical Express of London, for whom Manning was a writer and photographer. Terry photographed the likes of Chuck Berry, Procol Harum, Steppenwolf, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Dusty Springfield, and many other artists of the period. His photograph of Terry Reid became the cover of Reid's second album (the sepia-toned picture of Reid with Gibson guitar and fringe jacket,) and won several awards for album cover art. Manning was one of the last photographers to photograph his acquaintance, Dr. Martin Luther King, on the day before the assassination. In 2013 he finally took the time away from his other business and music pursuits to dig deep into boxes of film negatives and computer files, purchase the finest printing capabilities available, and set upon a new course of action in presenting his personal photographic thoughts to the public for the first time. Manning’s photography is now being presented in Exhibitions across the US, as well as world locations, and two books of his photographs have been released. Manning has spent the last year and a half preparing a totally new large scale gallery presentation of his best work. It is planned for opening in a major city in 2021.
Meanwhile, Manning, in addition to production, engineering and other duties, was still performing with Memphis groups, The Goat Dancers and Lawson and Four More. This latter group had a medium sized regional hit, and became an opening act on The Dick Clark Caravan of Stars Tour in the Mid-South. On this tour, Manning had the opportunity to meet one of his favourite contemporary groups, The Yardbirds. When they came back to tour the US again, Manning renewed the contact, and became close friends with Jimmy Page, then bass/rhythm guitar player for The Yardbirds. During the tour, Jeff Beck abruptly quit over artistic differences, and Page assumed lead guitar duties. Manning was privileged to add guitar instruction from Page to that he had already received from Teenie Hodges (Al Green) and Steve Cropper (Booker T, & The MG's).
Manning and Page toyed with the idea of forming a new and different sounding group, along with other musicians they both knew; Terry didn't want to leave the musical situation he was in at that time, so he opted out. However, when Page changed the name of his next group from "The New Yardbirds" to "Led Zeppelin," he had kept in contact with Terry, and when there was a need for engineering, Jimmy called Terry in to engineer for "Led Zeppelin III." This album, which Manning carried all the way to the final mastering stage (where he wrote the famous Crowley inscriptions into the lead-out groove by hand), became the number one album in the world.
Out there in that world somewhere, listening to this "new" heavier sound was, amongst many others, Billy Gibbons, who had recently formed a new group, "ZZ Top," after disbanding his band "Moving Sidewalks." Gibbons had formed an alliance with new manager Bill Ham, who had recently been working for a record distributorship. (Ham had originally been an artist himself, produced by none other then Pat Boone!) Gibbons wanted his band's sound to "get heavier," more like the Zeppelin sound, so he sought out Manning, talked Ham into trekking to Memphis, and thus began a triumvirate which was to last for many years! Manning, under Ham's guidance, completed the partially recorded "Tres Hombres" album, mixed it, and the London Records release quickly became the group's first big sales breakthrough. The three worked hand in hand on ZZ for over 18 years, spewing out such classic albums as "Fandango," "Tejas," "Deguello," "Eliminator," and "Recycler," and such great singles as "La Grange," "Tush," "Sharp Dressed Man," "Legs," and many others. When sales had dipped a bit in 1982, Gibbons asked Manning if there weren't some way to upgrade the rhythmic capability of the sound; Manning responded by injecting then-new computer-based instrument technology into a rock group record for the first time. The resulting "Eliminator," with its powerful new sound, responded by becoming number one in the world, remaining high on the Billboard album chart for well over 90 weeks, and selling in excess of 15 million units worldwide! The success of this album led many other artists to Terry Manning, who quickly expanded his production base.
Because of these many commitments, Manning was unable to accept the assignment of working on the next ZZ album, but he returned for the "Recycler" album. At this point, Manning felt that the long relationship had grown a bit counter-productive, and amicably left the "triumvirate" to pursue his other production and engineering interests. These interests had blossomed. Manning took on the production (and engineering, of course) of many artists, such as Jason & The Scorchers, George Thorogood and The Destroyers, Joe Cocker, Joe Walsh, Johnny Winter, Fastway, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Omar & The Howlers, Michael Anderson, Molly Hatchet, The Angels (Angel City in the US), Johnny Diesel and The Injectors, and many others (see DISCOGRAPHY link). Albums Manning produced on George Thorogood have sold over 14 million copies, and the songs have appeared in many motion pictures and national television commercials. The album "COCKER" by Joe Cocker revived Joe's then-slumping career, and sold well over 4 million copies. The first Johnny Diesel album was the biggest-selling rock album in Australian music history at the time, eclipsing even Madonna and U2 in that market! The "Powerful Stuff" recording Manning produced on The Fabulous Thunderbirds was included in the motion picture "Cocktail," and on that soundtrack sold over 19 million copies. The powerful and different Jason and The Scorchers have become a cult phenomenon, and the re-release on CD of the Manning-produced works has sold well and become a rock classic.
In 1988, Manning purchased a building in Memphis and installed his own studio for his own productions, STUDIO SIX. Several artists were produced there by Manning during it's four years of existence, including Thorogood, Diesel, Rick Vito of Fleetwood Mac, Rhino Bucket, and others. Then, in 1992, Chris Blackwell sought out Terry Manning to partner with and revitalize his famous Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas. Compass Point had fallen into disrepair, and rather than close such a landmark studio, Blackwell wanted to bring it back to life. Terry moved to The Bahamas in late 1992, and began the revitalization. Compass Point Studios soon returned to its exalted position in the music industry. After Manning’s arrival, such artists as Celine Dion, Björk, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, Julio Iglesias, Jimmy Buffett, Enrique Iglesias, Backstreet Boys, Diana Ross, Alan Jackson, Shakira, REM, Erykah Badu and many others graced the facility with their business. Manning himself worked at Compass Point with Crash Test Dummies, Lenny Kravitz, Shakira, Jesse Harris, Shania Twain and Mutt Lange, Bryan Adams, Venice, George Thorogood, Sly and Robbie, Doyle Bramhall, Al Green, and many others.
When Lenny Kravitz wanted his sound and production to progress to a new level, he sought out Manning, and the resulting collaboration "5" became Kravitz' largest selling ever, and stayed high on the Billboard album chart for well over two years, selling over 8 million copies worldwide! When Shakira wanted the best of "vintage" sound mixed with the best of modern, she sought out Terry to engineer her first English language album. The result was "Laundry Service" which was the #1 album in the world for the year 2000, selling over 15 million copies!
In addition to the US and The Bahamas, Terry has recorded in England, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Brasil, Canada, Scotland, and France. In 1992, he started his own label, Lucky Seven Records, first distributed by Rounder Records/Universal, and released several very popular titles, including The Memphis Horns, Furry Lewis, Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat, Rock City (precursor band to Big Star), Van Duren, Cargoe, and others. In 2013, Manning partnered Lucky Seven Records with Blake Morgan of ECR Music Group, thus beginning a new chapter in L7 Music History. Manning's other interests include athletics, aviation, astronomy, and history. He was captain of the soccer team at University of Memphis, where he also played basketball on the Junior Varsity team. He has completed several marathons, including The New York Marathon twice. He was ranked as high as 19th nationally in racquetball, and was a racquetball instructor for several years. In high school, Manning was all-city quarterback on the football team, and also ran track. He is an instrument-rated pilot with a deep love of flying. Manning has received Bachelor of Arts degrees in both History and Political Science, and graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Manning’s newest releases as an artist are the single “God Only Knows,” a slower, more emotional version of the Beach Boys’ classic, accompanied only by himself on piano and alto flute; and ECR Music Group/Lucky Seven Records released Manning’s album, “West Texas Skyline,” A Tribute To Bobby Fuller, on October 15, 2013. And the very newest, 2015 release, is HEAVEN KNOWS, an original album already widely heralded. 2017 saw the release of an album of Manning’s compositions performed by his group 3@Sea, “Planets,” and in 2019 ECR released Manning’s “Playin’ In Elvis House,” recorded live inside the first house Elvis bought in Memphis.
by Harvey L. Skinner
Compiled from information provided by Compass Point Studios, World's End, James Phelan, Audio Engineering Society, ProRecordingWorkshop, Lucky Seven Records, The Smithsonian, and Rob Jovanovic.