Terry Reid Credit: Courtesy of Artist

“There are only three things happening in England,” Aretha Franklin was quoted as saying in 1968. “The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Terry Reid.” Few have had careers as simultaneously high-flying and underappreciated as Reid’s. One of rock’s greatest vocalists, he began singing as a teen with R&B bands, including Peter Jay & the Jaywalkers, who supported the Stones in 1966, leading Graham Nash to score them a record deal with Columbia. Reid then signed with pop Svengali Mickie Most (Donovan, Herman’s Hermits) for two solo albums and embarked on a U.S. tour with Cream in 1968. Things got really heavy when Jimmy Page famously asked Reid to join his band the New Yardbirds. Already committed to opening a Stones tour, Reid recommended a singer from the Band of Joy, whom he’d recently seen play: Robert Plant. He also put in a good word for the group’s drummer, John Bonham. The New Yardbirds became Led Zeppelin, and Reid returned to the road with Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull. He joined the Stones again on the tour that culminated in the disastrous Altamont show in 1969, though he missed that particular date. In 1969 Reid also turned down an offer to front Deep Purple, and in his own work he began to drift away from rock conventions—marking the beginning of what many consider his career peak. Reid’s third solo album, 1973’s River, sold poorly at the time but is now recognized as a genre-defying rural/psychedelic/jazz/folk/soul/Latin-tinged classic on par with Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. His next LP, the Graham Nash-produced Seed of Memory, was on a similar plane, but ABC Records filed for bankruptcy the week it was released and the album ended up buried in time. Since then, the only new material Reid has released has been 1979’s soul-rockin’ Rogue Waves and 1991’s new-wave-influenced The Driver. His live appearances have been even more sporadic. The most recent time the 69-year-old Reid played Chicago was more than a decade ago—so if you want to see a true legend, who in some parallel universe is doubtless as big as the rock stars he’s been associated with, this might be your last chance.   v