TERRY CLEMENTS - Lead Guitar 1972-2011
Born: Detroit, raised in LA.
Musical Background: Musical director for Johnny Tillotson. House writer with Buck Owens. Movie scores. Worked with producer Lou Adler during the Mamas And Papas era.
How Recruited: Terry and Gord met while Terry was working on Burt Reynolds' first flick. Gord asked him to join the band. He and Red Shea then shared the picking for a year until Red quit. First album was Don Quixote.
Gear: Martin D18, McGlincy 00 and Gretch Country Gentleman.
Outside Projects: Working on a posthumous album.
Favorite Music: Early rockers, Motown, Monites de Plata, Fernando Sor, Duane Eddy, Dick Dale, Lonnie Mack, Grady Martin, James Burton and on and on.
Outside Interests: Cooking, jamming in bars, hotel plumbing and hanging out with the band.
Highlights With Gord: Hollywood Bowl, Montreal Olympics.
TERRY CLEMENTS IN THE LEAD
Acoustic Guitar - January 2000
By Ben Elder
"I've been playing guitar too long to get uppity about it," says Terry Clements, the tall, soft-spoken Detroit native who has supplied lead guitar textures in Gordon Lightfoot's music for 30 years. "I'm still of the mind that the guitar is in the rhythm section. I actually like rhythm a lot more than I like lead, and I'm not much of an acrobat."
His favourite acoustic guitarists include Tony Rice, Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs, and Jerry Douglas (on Dobro). "I think Tony is about one of the slickest guys I've ever seen play," Clements says. "He doesn't even look like he's moving." Where are all these notes coming from?" Clements has recently been listening to Buena Vista Social Club, flamenco guitarist Manitas de Plata, and a lot of salsa music. "Growing up in California, I played with Mexican guys a lot," he says. "That stuff - all the percussion and horns - has got so much life to it!"
Clements started playing guitar at about age five using an open-D tuning. Before that, the guitar was not so much a musical tool as comfort. "My mum and dad broke up when I was between two and three, and my mum had to go out and work" he remembers. "She sent me off to St. Vincent de Paul, which is an orphanage in Mt. Clement, Michigan, for about three years," he recalls. "The guy there had this old Washburn acoustic, missing a string, so that became my teddy bear." He was reunited with his mother when her job situation improved, and she later bought him his first real guitar - a Stella.
In 1959, the family moved to southern California, where Clements was more likely to be found hanging out, playing guitar and surfing in Huntington Beach that attending high school in Pasadena. By that time he'd stepped up to a Kay electric and was playing surf guitar wizard Dick Dale. This influence was to prove useful in Clements' later professional career. "You know that tremolo part in 'Canadian Railroad Trilogy'? Learned that from Dick Dale!"
After high school, Clements spent two years in the navy, where he "busted up" his right and. He now picks with just a flatpick and his ring finger. He was part of Golden Sunflower in the '60's, a group managed by Lou Adler (manager of he Mamas and the Papas). Clements wrote and arranged for the group and he was the only band member who actually played on the group's album; all the other parts were recorded by the legendary Wrecking Crew - an ensemble of first-call L.A. session aces.
Clements' association with Adler included recording, producing, arranging, performing and gofer work. He eventually got into film-score work, where he met Lightfoot. "A friend of mine was writing the score for a film at Paramount," he recalls. "They wanted to try Gord singing the title theme. They called him in and right then and there he said, 'You want to join my band?' That's when Red [Shea] was still in there. I said I wanted to try this movie music stuff for a while. Then Gord calls up out of he blue, like late 1970, and says, 'What're you doing? How would you like a hipper gig? Red wants to get off the road, so I'm looking for a guitar player.'" Lightfoot flew Clements up to Toronto for an audition and the two have been collaborators ever since.
At first, the "hipper gig" was challenging, because fans were often asking for Red Shea, but Clements brought his own style to the band - including electric guitar and a country rock sound - and eventually won them over. After three decades of working with Lightfoot, Clements says his job is not that complicated. "If Gord has specific idea, he'll tell me. Otherwise, it's, 'Come up with something,'" he explains, The ideas can flow in either direction, and "In My Fashion" from Shadows was built on a Terry Clements idea. "That was one of my riffs," he recalls. "Gordon said, 'Hey, can I use that' I said, 'Sure,' and we ended up building that song around that riff."
When he's not on the road, Clements busies himself at home. "I have a little eight-track analog studio - enough to make a fairly good DAT, so I get songwriters in here. I help them arrange their stuff. The first time the young songwriters hear their song, that's a pretty good feeling."
Clements' long tenure with Lightfoot is a testimonial in itself to the boss. "Gord is personable and more down to earth than a lot of people I've been around people who believe their own hype and have heads the size of watermelons. Gord doesn't have many airs about him. I guess to be in he business this long, you have some sense of decorum."
RED SHEA - Lead Guitar 1966-1971, 1975Born: Prince Albert, SK
Laurice Milton "Red" Shea was Lightfoot's first lead guitarist and created memorable fingerpicking accompaniments that became ingrained forever in the Lightfoot signature sound. He recorded and toured with Lightfoot regularily from 1966 to 1971, then came back for part of 1975. On record he played on albums through the 60's and 70's and came back to assist on two tracks on 2004's Harmony. He played the lead on two of Lightfoot's biggest hits, If You Could Read My Mind and Sundown, the latter's solo being ranked among some of the all time greatest electric guitar solos by some critics.
Incredibly, Red was a self taught musician. He passed along his teachings to others in later years as an in demand instructor, giving private lessons to many fortunate guitar students. After leaving Lightfoot, Red was part of Canadian country music star Tommy Hunter's CBC-TV show, often exchanging stories and jokes with Hunter, as well as adding his impressive playing to the show. Red had an irrepressible spirit and boundless energy, which came across on stage.
PEE WEE CHARLES - Pedal Steel Guitar 1975-1987Born: Kitchener, ON, now lives in Waterloo, ON
Pee Wee Charles, aka Ed Ringwald was recruited from Ian Tyson's band, Great Speckled Bird (where Pee Wee played with Red Shea) in 1975 following the cancellation of Tyson's TV show. Pee Wee recorded and toured with Lightfoot, while still being an in demand session player, once turning down recording work with the Eagles due to concerts with Lightfoot that overlapped the scheduled sessions. His unique playing style added wonderful and almost surreal textures to Lightfoot's sound - especially live. He created many different sounds on the steel, often being asked by fans what instrument was he actually playing? But it was simply his master work on the pedal steel. He left Lightfoot in 1987 to pursue radio work in southern Ontario, but has continued to play and record with many top country acts.
JOHN STOCKFISH - Bass 1966-1969Along with Red Shea, John Stockfish comprised Lightfoot's first fulltime touring and recording band. Stockfish made his mark on Lightfoot's UA studio albums in the 60's, and was recruited for recording work on some of Lightfoot's biggest albums of the 70's, including Sundown and some of the re-recordings of UA material for Gord's Gold in July of 1975. Stockfish also worked with the late Jim Croce. He remained in the music business, composing and doing publishing work based in Nashville for a number of years.