Terence Trent D’Arby – “Neither Fish Nor Flesh”! 80’s star, 90’s guru, then what…?
Terence Howard isn’t exactly the most catchy name for a world class singer. So it’s hardly surprising that the New York born singer (born in 1963) adopted a new name for the stage and his inevitable fame. Keeping his middle name of Trent, he selected D’Arby, a variation on his step father Bishop James Darby’s surname. Moving around the US as a child, his family settled in Orlando at the beginning of the 1980’s where Terry (to his friends) trained as a boxer and won the Florida Golden Gloves lightweight championship in 1980!
Terry enlisted in the US army soon after and was posted in the former West Germany when he was court martialed in 1983 after going absent without leave. The reason, he was playing with the band The Touch, with whom he recorded the album “Love On Time” in 1984. Terry, or Terence, left the group soon after to pursue a solo career and in 1986 was signed to Columbia Records. He released his debut single “If You Let Me Stay” in May 1987 which became a moderate hit charting at No.68 in the US and breaking the top 40 across Europe. But it was in the UK that the single saw its greatest success reaching No.7 there.
Two months later, Terence released his debut album that must rank as one of the longest album titles ever – “Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D’Arby”! The album would prove an enormous success topping the UK album chart for nine weeks and selling over one and a half million copies there. It also topped the charts in Australia and across Europe and eventually reached No.4 in the US in 1988, where it has sold over two and a half million copies. Terence released “Wishing Well” as the second single which topped the US singles chart and made the top ten in fifteen other countries including the UK where it peaked at No.4.
His third and final release of 1987 was “Dance Little Sister” which followed suit in making the top ten across much of Europe, No.20 in the UK and No.30 in America. In early 1988 a fourth single was released, the sublime “Sign Your Name”, which would perform much stronger than its predecessor in reaching No.4 in the US, No.2 in the UK and charting top ten in a further twelve countries including Australia and Canada.
1988 would bring more success with both Grammy and Brit best artist Awards and Terence began writing and recording for his second album. The first taste of which came in September 1989 with the single “This Side Of Love” which sadly failed to make any impact on a predicted, eager following that had been assumed. It just managed to crawl into the top 100 in the UK but did nothing Stateside. It was a similar and worrying tale for the album, “Neither Fish Nor Flesh” when it was released the following month, peaking at No.12 in the UK and failing to replicate the success of his debut elsewhere. It made No.61 in the US. A second single “To Know Someone Deeply Is to Know Someone Softly” did marginally better in the UK where it reached No.55 at the end of the year.
Terence wisely spent time rethinking his next move as his third studio album “Symphony Or Damn” would materialise until 1993. The album performed better, albeit not the runaway success of his debut, and once again it was the UK that brought the biggest following for the album and the four consecutive top twenty singles from it. “Do You Love Me Like You Say?” was the lead single making No.14 in the UK, followed by “She Kissed Me” (UK No.16) and “Let Her Down Easy” (UK No.18). He recorded the duet “Delicate” with British singer Des’ree for the album which made No.14 in the UK and, hooray, did break the US singles chart, reaching No.74 there! However, this would be his last showing there to date. “Symphony Or Damn” peaked at No.8 in the UK gaining a Gold certification for sales of over 100,000 copies, equalling this position in Australia. It made No.119 in America.
He followed this with his fourth album “Vibrator” in 1995 that included the top twenty hit “Holding On To You”. The album charted at No.11 in the UK and, again, gained a Gold certification there. It could only peak at No.178 in the US where it would become the last US chart appearance of his career. Terence parted ways with Columbia at the end of 1995.
That same year he adopted a new name for himself, Sananda Francesco Maitreya, which he says he can relate to a series of dreams that year. In Sanskrit, Sananda Francesco Maitreya means rebirth and possessed of happiness. In an interview given in 2001 ‘Sananda’ explained “Terence Trent D’Arby was dead…he watched his suffering as he died a noble death. After intense pain I meditated for a new spirit, a new will, a new identity”! Later that same year he released his ‘debut’ album “Wildcard”.
Since 2001, he has released a further seven albums under this name and a total of fourteen singles, the most recent being the album “Prometheus & Pandora” in 2017 and the single “Hail Mary” in 2018. He only broke with his ‘Sananda’ identity in 2002 to release “The Greatest Hits Of Terence Trent D’Arby”, a double CD compilation, putting to rest the life and work of the late Terence Trent D’Arby (1986-2001).