The first time I heard Terry Huff and Special Delivery‘s album “The Lonely One” I was astonished by the unparalleled pitch of Huff’s falsetto voice. It was beautiful. I read more about Huff in Ted Scheinman’s excellent 2010 piece, “Terry Huff’s Lost Soul,” and got his contact info from the author. We met at Huff’s daughter’s house and and he was game for the shoot, even when neighbors informed us we were standing in poison ivy. When I left he sang a bit of a new song he was working on and his voice sounded as good as ever.
I knew Huff had cancer and was saddened to learn about his death a few months later. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to meet him. His voice was undoubtedly one of a kind and “I Destroyed Your Love” is one of my top 10 favorite songs of all time.
This post is in memory of Terry Huff.
Terry Huff started singing on Capitol Hill street corners with his brother Andy and friends from the neighborhood as a teenager. Discovered by John “Johnny Boy” Katsouros, Andy and The Marglows recorded four singles on Liberty Records—“Superman Lover,” “Just One Look,” “I’ll Get By” and “Symphony” in 1963.
Huff became a DC police officer in 1969 but in 1973 quit the force and delved into songwriting. He met George Parker, Reginald Ross, and Chet Fortune of DC vocal group Act One through a friend. In 1975 they released the single “I Destroyed Your Love” on Mainstream Records under the name Special Delivery and Huff’s limitless falsetto helped propel the record around the country.
Terry Huff and Special Delivery released the LP “The Lonely One” on Mainstream Records in 1976, which featured many of the songs Huff wrote after leaving the police force including “I Destroyed Your Love,” “Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way),” and the title track. The late Al Johnson arranged and conducted the record and Huff sang lead on all of the songs while Parker, Ross, and Fortune performed background vocals. Unfortunately Terry Huff and Special Delivery split up prior to the record’s release. Huff and his brothers Andrew and Jimmy, who sang background on “The Lonely One,” tried to secure a new deal with Philly International Records but were unable to due to legal complications.
Huff was seldom heard from thereafter. In 2010 writer Ted Scheinman, who lived near Huff, wrote “Terry Huff’s Lost Soul,” a cover story about Huff for the Washington City Paper, shining a spotlight on the DC soul legend once again while revealing that he had been homeless and had cancer. Despite his illness Huff planned a return to music and secretly performed at Open Mic Night at the Channel Inn’s “Engine Room.”
Huff sadly passed away in December 2012 at age 65 before he could attempt a comeback. In January 2013 a concert featuring Peaches & Herb, Skip Mahoney and The Casuals, Al Johnson, The Winstons, The Choice Four, and Special Delivery helped raise money for his funeral. You can purchase Terry Huff and Special Delivery‘s music here.
Most of the content for this article is from Ted Scheinman’s City Paper cover story.