As one of the architects of the British Invasion of the 1960’s and 1970’s, Terry Ellis was responsible for guiding the careers of Jethro Tull, Blondie, Pat Benatar. Billy Idol, Huey Lewis and the News, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Roxy Music, King Crimson, Yes, Procol Harum, Robin Trower, Spandau Ballet, Leo Sayer, and many, many more.
As a child, Terry Ellis pictured the white sands and azure blue waters of the desert islands he read about in children’s classic books; when he was twelve, he collected every piece of information he could find about his new hero, Elvis Presley. But to a working class boy in a small country town in England, the Caribbean seas and Memphis, Tennessee were simply fantasy lands, places to dream about.
Yet, by his early thirties,Terry was living in The British Virgin Islands and walking through the corridors of power of American rock’n’roll as Chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America, the only non-American to ever lead the world of US pop music, having risen from humble beginnings to develop Chrysalis Records into one of the world’s most successful and powerful independently owned Record companies. As a student at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in the north of England,
Terry arranged for pop groups to play at the Student’s Union for the first time. He discovered a nose for talent that allowed him to bring to his college artists like The Animals, Cream, Roxy Music and Rod Stewart before they became household names. Terry wrote a pop music column for the University newspaper, The Courier; his backstage interview with Bob Dylan during the 1965 UK tour was memorialized in the Dylan movie, Don’t Look Back, to Terry’s lasting embarrassment! Enamored by the music business, when he graduated, Terry opened his own booking agency.
He found himself out of his depth in a sleazy world of small time gangsters and soon went out of business. Desperately unhappy and feeling humiliated by his failure, Terry took a job as a computer systems analyst and started a part-time operation organizing entertainment for colleges. Applying the lessons he had learned and through sheer hard work, he built this into a full-time business and then joined forces with a competitor, Chris Wright.
Subsequently, Terry developed one of the most successful track records in contemporary music for discovering, developing and exploiting the commercial potential of young recording artists. With his partner, he built a small artist booking agency into one of the most successful independent groups of companies in the music industry with subsidiaries involved in artist management, booking, record labels, music publishing, concert promotion and venue management, entering the recording studio business with Beatles producer Sir George Martin. In one capacity or another, Chrysalis represented every important influence in British music in the 1970s.
At the end of 1974, Terry moved to Los Angeles to build the American arm of the group. In the US, Terry discovered and signed to Chrysalis, Blondie, Billy Idol, Pat Benatar and Huey Lewis and the News. In each of these cases, and there are others, the common factor was his personal devotion of time, effort and career planning that took the artists to international success. Terry produced two made-for-TV movies and developed the award winning TV series Max Headroom. He has also held the Chairmanship of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and served for five years as a member of the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI).
Whilst running the BPI, Terry was responsible for founding the BRIT School of Performing Arts in Croydon, Surrey, whose notable alumni include Adele and Amy Winehouse. After leaving Chrysalis in 1985, Terry formed Imago Records where he had success with artists such as Baby Animals, Captain Hollywood, The Rollins Band, Aimee Mann, Love Spit Love and Paula Cole whose second album, including the hit songs, “Where have all the Cowboys gone,” and “I don’t want to wait,’ sold 3 million albums and Paula was awarded the Grammy for "Best New Artist."
Terry and his French wife Daniele live in the British Virgin Islands, while their five children live in New York, London, Zurich and Geneva. He is an enthusiastic supporter of all genres of stage music presentation and has served on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Opera Club of New York City.
Terry is a voting member of the committees that award the Grammies and select the honourees of the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.