Arts Desk

D.C. Soul Star Terry Huff Dead at 65

Terry Huff, the honey-voiced singer-songwriter behind the D.C. soul hits “I Destroyed Your Love” and “The Lonely One,” died of colon cancer early Friday morning at a hospice in Clinton, Md., after three weeks of inpatient care at George Washington University Hospital.

Born Oct. 16, 1947, the ninth child of 18, Huff began his musical career harmonizing on the corner of 15th Street and Independence Avenue SE with his brothers. The boys’ leader in those days was Andrew Huff, three years older than Terry. Eventually performing as Andy and the Marglows, the family act achieved modest chart success before splitting over internal tensions. Terry went on to become a fast-rising star in the Metropolitan Police Department, nabbing heroin pushers and cuffing a notorious bank robber whom the local media had dubbed the “Gentleman Bandit.” By the age of 24, Huff was promoted to detective, one of the youngest in the history of the force.

A talented, blustery, oversize presence whether onstage or in the squad room, Huff clashed frequently with his sergeant and quit in 1973 to return to music, joining George Parker, Reginald Ross, and Chet Fortune to form Terry Huff and Special Delivery, whose lone LP, The Lonely One, remains a local classic. As WPFW-FM’s Captain Fly put it in 2010, the record established Terry as “a hometown hero with a national piece.”

Washington City Paper ran a profile of Huff on its cover in June of 2010. A glance at the comments section of that article gives a sense of the buzz Terry’s songwriting created in the pre-go-go D.C. soul scene.

Terry’s family is working to arrange a proper funeral for their uninsured and, for many years, homeless brother.

“It may take a while before we can bury him,” Andrew says.

Peter Bug, proprietor of the Peter Bug Leather & Shoe Training Academy at 13th and E streets SE, is planning a block party to raise money for the funeral, while John Sharpe is organizing a big-name concert, titled “Special Delivery for Terry Huff: His Life, His Love, His Legacy of Music.” The event will take place on Jan. 4 at the Hampton Conference Center in District Heights, Md. Confirmed acts include Al Johnson, Skip Mahoney, Sarah Dash, Diz Russell and the Orioles, The New Era, as well as surviving members of The Winstons and The Choice Four.

Huff was smiling and confident in his final weeks, family members say.

“I had a chance to visit him a couple times,” Andrew says. “He was upbeat. The night people came to take him to the nursing home, me and my wife were there, and then he left. That’s the last I heard from him. That was Wednesday night.”

Word of Huff's death spread quickly among the old guard of D.C. R&B.

“I got a call on my way to the radio station at about six in the morning on Saturday,” says Captain Fly. “In the previous weeks, everybody was running around trying to find out what had happened—‘cause Terry was a pretty secretive guy.”

“Terry was big in D.C.,” Fly says. “And D.C., the size of it, is almost like Cheers: Everybody knows your name. So when someone from D.C. dies—Marvin Gaye, whoever—people come running. And Terry had that magnificent voice. To us, he was like your brother or sister. Someone who had made it. That voice was his gift.”

That voice—stratospheric, haunting, rich with regret—is Terry’s irreplaceable legacy. Sharpe, who had been planning the fundraiser before news of Terry’s death, says the singer was pleased with the idea.

“When he first went into the hospital, I said, ‘I’m gonna make sure you get your due. There’s gonna be an outpouring of love,’" Sharpe says. "We’re gonna make sure he gets his propers.

“When I talked with Terry last week, I told him what was going on. He said, ‘I’ll be there.’”

Huff is survived by his daughter, Tiffany, and one grandson. He was 65.

Terry Huff & Special Delivery, “I Destroyed Your Love”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Steve

    Dang. We live on Marlboro Place and know the Huffs decently well. Hadn't seen Terry in quite some time though. And it's funny, I knew he was a cop because he would talk about it sometimes, but I literally had no idea about his R&B past. Thanks for shining a light on it today, CP. Great tune.

  • MELBA BARNES

    A NATIONAL TREASURE...LOVE ALWAYS. MELBA BARNES

  • Darlene

    A Voice That can never be copied , I Destroyed your Love
    and the Lonely One no one has even tried to sing these songs I am glad I have them in my collection R.I.P Terry.

  • janice najiy

    I can remember at the house w/ family listen 2 my uncle voice wanting him 2 sing all nite...he will be missed & his music lives in us...May God Grant him a place in paradise...

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  • Muskrat

    I met Terry Huff only 4 months ago, after reading about him in the StreetSense newspaper. In that short time, he gave me valuable advice about songwriting and introduced me to a few of his musical friends. He was humming a song of gratitude for the gift of life when I last saw him, which is memorable because his life was not easy. We'll miss him. -- Steven S. Lapham (aka Muskrat)

  • Laura

    Mr. Huff was a regular here at The Campbell Center on MLK Jr. SE. I am the Asst. Program Manager here and spoke with him often. He was always a gentlemen and always researching something and working on a book that he was writing. He was a very private man that took his time warming up to you. I never knew about his music background nor the fact that he had been a detective. He never talked about the past but he was full of the future! He had so many ideas and plans!!! I really enjoyed our conversations and am most certainly a better person for knowing him. All of here at The Campbell Center will miss him tremendously. I wish him Peace...this life owes him that in the final one.

  • Joe (SirJoe) Quarterman

    I met Terry in 1973 at Track recording studios. I was thoroughly impressed by his vocals. He was all pro. He was also a very cheerful and friendly guy. He will be missed.

  • http://rayapolloallen.com Ray Apollo Allen

    I had never met Terry until six weeks ago at meat ball;s studio,where im recordin a new single he would be there every time Id go there,he gave me some pointers on,he was truly a gifted person,he will be greatly missed.rest on my brother,delighted to have gotteb to know you.

  • http://www.chetfortune.com Chet Fortune

    I had the pleasure of not only knowing Terry, but writing songs with him,(We co-wrote - "This Time It's For Real - recorded by "The Choice Four"), along with many other songs, singing with him, (I was a member of "Special Delivery with him), and laughin' learnin' and lovin' with him - - we both loved music - it was the main source of our happiness at that time. Terry was a special spirit, with an amazing talent. His life was not an easy one, and was indeed - "The Lonely One" - and I hope that he will finally find peace - for he is now with the source of all happiness! May his soul Rest In Peace!!!

  • Don R Pope

    I went to Eastern with Terry and worked with him on MPDC.
    Great guy...He will be missed.

  • Dwayne W. Tyree

    He was an awesome talent that will be sorely missed. Rest in peace my brother!! DWT (Gene Chandler's Drummer)

  • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/stephaniecolleen Stephanie Campbell

    My brother played behind Terry a few times and although I never met him I LOVE I Destroyed Your Love and he made Washington DC proud. RIP Soulman.

  • http://none jerry wesley

    I first heard this magnificant talent in 1976 during a brief stay in Washington D.C. The tune was the lonely one and it was impactful to me because I had just lost the love of my life. It's ironic, that I was searching youtube today to listen to his tune, I destroyed your love for me, and was taken by surprise to learn of his death. They say God works in mysterious ways and it did today. Forever missed by those who loved your music.

  • Rickie Clark

    Just found out about Terry's passing, I played and programmed his music at WTLC-FM in Indianapolis, Indiana...I even recorded three new records on Terry on my local record label Circle City Records in the early 1980's. We found out that we had a lot in common including both being on the Police Dept. Him in D.C. and me in Indianapolis......I'm just sorry I never got to say good by. Terry Huff was that talent that should have been a superstar in the music business....Major labels and producers blew it on this GREAT Artist.....But fans like me in Indianapolis and those in Washington D.C. knew. May GOD keep you in perfect peace.

  • http://cwudc.com Corey Wade

    I destroyed your love inspired me musically. May Yahweh bless Mr. Huffs soul. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Kathy Mckoy

    Wow Ijust found out about the death of Mr. Huff. I grew up right around the corner from his family the Macks. May God forever bless his family. You all will be in my prayers.
    Kat

  • Ron Harvey

    Terry, my wife Brenda, our friends Alfreda and John Thomas all grew up together in Southeast Washington. Terry and I joined the Metropolitan Police Department and ended up on the same Squad (the Mod Squad) Terry was high energy and hard working. He will most definitly be missed. RIP

  • zelda ferguson

    I didnt know Terry, but I love the lonely one and I destroyed your love:::: awesome. I dont have any money to assist in the burial, but I would think the people who are financially sound would be willing to help the family of this legendary soul.
    I hope he gets the proper burial....

  • Regina Draffin

    I loved his music and had the priveledge of hearing him sing in person on the front porch of his family's home (The Mack's) on 14th St SE. I used to date his nephew early on

  • Darlene Miles

    I have always loved listening to Terry's songs. I remember his smile. He will certainly be missed but his music will live on. I remember his sisters and brothers. We hung around the neighborhoods together. It seemed as if though the whole family was blessed with the same smile. I remember especially Martini and Lonnie. Such beautiful smiles.

    Many, many blessings to the family.

    Hope I didn't miss the funeral services. Keep us posted.

    Thanks

  • Patricia Huff-Holmes

    Good Morning! There will be a benefit concert in my Uncle's Honor on January 4th from 6:00pm-1:00am at Hampton Conference Center 207 W. Hampton Pl., Capitol Heights, MD. The cost to attend this event is $20 and will be collected at the door. To get more information please email me to get the flyer.....fantasyiland03@hotmail.com.

    P.S. There will be no funeral services as my uncle has been cremated. Therefore this concert is a way for everyone who loved him and his music to honor and cherish his memories.

  • Junior Wallace Edwards

    Grew up with Terry. Time spent crooning and guitar playing on the corners and in the basement. A very gifted brother!

  • Angela Missouri

    Just Broken, Broken about the passing of Mr. Huff. I met him at a friend's event, where a friend of mine was performing in a band in Delaware. Someone from the group introduced him to me knowing my love of music. That night we begin taking as if we had been friends forever, he would often call me and we would chat. He was even working on some songs and needed a keyboard player asking that I refer someone to him, which I did. He was such a wise and humble man and he just gave the best advice, I truly feel as though I lost a family member, you know the ones you go to when you need lifting up or need some wise advice or the type you would kick if with on the front porch with a glass of Lemonade and just talk... about any and everything... that's the spirit in him I will miss... Hugs and Love you Mr. Huff... Angela Missouri (Dixon)

  • dwane brown(66)

    THE LAST TIME I SAW TERRY WAS YEARS AGO IN MY BASEMENT. TERRY AND MIKE HALE WERE TRYING TO GET SOMETHING GOING MUSICALLY.TERRY WAS ALWAYS LIFTING YOUR SPIRIT NOT RAISING HIS OWN.IF YOU TERRY YOU NEW HE HAD BEEN SINGING FOREVER AND NEVER ACTED LIKE HE WAS A STAR JUST BEING TERRY.WHEN I HEARD FROM CAPTAIN FLY THAT HE WAS SICK,MIKE HALE TALKED TO HIM AT THE HOSPITAL AND HE GAVE US AN UPDATE ON HIS SITUATION.ME MIKE AND POOCHIE WENT TO SEE HIM A FEW DAYS LATER BUT HE HAD BEEN RELEASED AND TRANSITIONED SOON AFTER. GLAD HE HAD BEEN IN MY LIFE AS A FRIEND AND CLASSMATE AND GREAT SINGER. REST ON TERRY. DWANE BROWN (66)

  • http://www.DJNateDSkate.Com Nathan L. Giles(DJ Nate D. Skate)

    I'd like to THANK all of those responsible parties for giving me the opportunity to share my MUSIC, skills and tecnologies with the world via all lines of communications
    and making it capable to transmit the SOUNDS of Terry Huff/Spec. Delivery on a regular basis from the Studios of
    WPFW 89.3 FM Your Jazz and Justice Radio. R.I.P Terry!!!

  • keith ford

    just finding out that Terry had past last away tonight, I've been playing Lonely one and I destroyed your love all nite even b4 I found he had died, i'm truly surprised and hurt he was a great singer, i bought the albumn Lonely one in 1976 while was leaving the navy. will never forget the songs or the delivery by Terry, rest in peace my brother.

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