The Huffs left North Carolina when Terry was a toddler. His father went first to New York, which he deemed unsuitable for raising kids, and then, in 1951, to Washington. The rest of the family followed—Terry, his mother, and his small army of siblings. The Huff children numbered 18 in total. Terry was the ninth child, three years younger than Andrew, who would be his main musical collaborator.
The family’s stay at 50th and C Streets SE ended when a fire burned them out. Several of the kids were put into a foster home. Terry wound up on a farm in Croom, Md. Eventually the Huff parents reunited the family in a home on the eastern edge of Capitol Hill, where they attracted the attention of a young man who’d just opened his first business.
The prime mover in Terry and Andrew’s impressionable years was John “Johnny Boy” Katsouros, a Greek-American from the island of Naxos. In 1945, Katsouros’ father was gunned down by the Nazis for breaking curfew. Once the postwar shipping routes opened up, Katsouros came to D.C., where his mother had been born. When he met the Huffs, he’d just left a job at Safeway to open the first Johnny Boy Carryout at 15th Street and Independence Avenue SE—right down the street from their new house.
Katsouros had fallen hard for the music he encountered in Washington. “In D.C., we ran across Smokey [Robinson] and the Miracles when I was a really little kid,” he says. “We saw Tina [Turner] when she was with Ike up at the old WUST studio off of Riggs Road. See, I was raised up around black people. And when I was looking to open my business, I was looking for a black neighborhood.”
That’s where he met the Huff boys. “So there I was, 22, 23 years old, and you got these young guys harmonizing on the corner, singing old Del Vikings, the Coasters, the Drifters, the Platters—I loved that music.”
“He heard us singing and he came out to the corner where we were at, and he just stood there and watched,” Huff says. “We were harmonizing on ‘I Know’ by the Spaniels. Incredible song. And he says, ‘We need to go to New York and see what we can do about getting you guys into recording records.’” Huff calls Katsouros the “most wonderful person ever in my life.”
Katsouros ingratiated himself with the family, even buying groceries for Huff’s mother. He outfitted Terry, Andy, and their neighborhood bandmates in bold green tuxes for the trip to Manhattan. “I did everything that the manager would do,” he says. “I bought them suits, and Terry—Terry practically lived with me for some time. He lived over top of the store….I more or less adopted him.”
If Terry was the favored child of the ensemble, Andrew was still the leader—three years older than Terry, with a wicked grin and an oversize stage presence. The boys began to gig around town. When Katsouros brought Terry backstage after an Inez and Charlie Foxx show at the Howard Theatre, the R&B duo were so impressed with the young man that they asked him to open for them in New Jersey.
“She only wanted Terry,” Katsouros says. “So Terry went. I took him up to New Jersey, bought him new suits, and when we got up there, the rest of the group didn’t take to Terry. They felt threatened by him. We did the one night and Inez asked us to leave, and that was heartbreaking ’cause we thought we really had a break.”
Katsouros ferried the boys to New York a dozen times in his white 1961 Cadillac Seville. His persistence finally paid off in a contract with Liberty Records, the same label that was pushing 45s by the doe-eyed likes of Bobby Vee. Terry was 16. Andy and the Marglows, as they styled themselves, recorded three songs at Liberty’s studios in New York: “Superman Lover,” “Symphony,” and—the one track that made it onto the pop charts—“Just One Look,” which they learned straight off the original Doris Troy demo.
The only problem, according to Katsouros, Terry Huff, and fellow Marglow Lamont Russell, was that a tin-eared producer tried to funk things up too much, insisting on a sped-up rendition. The record charted in Detroit in May 1963, beating Dion for “new release hit of the week.” But the success ended a week or so later, when Troy heard the tune, labeled it a misinterpretation, and cut her own version for Atlantic, which quickly rose to No. 10 on the U.S. singles charts.
“Liberty was a white label—they had all white performers, Gene Pitney and all that,” Katsouros says. “If we had a guy that was used to dealing with black groups and arranged it right, we would have been there. We had a contract to do three singles, six sides, and then Doris Troy came out with her version of it. She wiped us out and the label dropped us.”
It’s still a sore spot for Andrew Huff. “The companies we were on took everything that we made,” he says. “It’s disturbing. We were just young and stupid.”
A few months later, Terry and Andrew—as a duo—met with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff (no relation) in Philadelphia. The inventors of Philly soul had heard the recordings courtesy of Katsouros and been charmed by the brothers’ live performance. “Let’s do business,” they said. “Come back in the fall.”
But Terry and Andrew never saw Gamble and Huff again: Back in D.C., the brothers nearly came to blows at a rehearsal, ending their musical partnership. “Terry, as you might have heard, was difficult to work with,” Andrew says. “I guess we were rehearsing, and Terry’s the type of dude, he has no fun. So one guy was reading the newspaper and Terry said, ‘Could you put down that newspaper?’ And then, well, things just got out of hand.”
It was also the end of the family’s musical relationship with Katsouros, who in the following years would build a food empire of sorts in D.C. and Prince George’s County. Johnny Boy’s name still graces carryouts throughout the Washington area. (The only location he maintains a stake in is Johnny Boy’s Ribs in Upper Marlboro, Md.) But he says he hasn’t heard from Terry Huff in years. “Give him my number. I’d love to talk to him,” he says. “Last time I talked to him he said he’d finally made it and I was going to be rich.”