During the 1960s and 1970s Terry Lee was a tireless hard driving Pittsburgh music impresario. Along with Clark Race and Porky Chedwick Terry Lee was one of Pittsburgh’s most popular radio DJs noted for his “TL” sound and “Music for Young Lovers” a mix of Northern Soul, Rhythm & Blues, and 50's & 60's rock . On the air at WMCK, WIXZ, and several other stations he was a hit maker who gave first airplay to many national and local artists . An entrepreneur he promoted popular teen dances that drew thousands of teenagers to several venues throughout the Pittsburgh area and he owned the Nite Train dance club. Terry Lee booked national and local acts for his dances, took them on whirlwind weekend tours of Pittsburgh area dance venues, and promoted concerts at Three Rivers Stadium and the Civic Arena. He was also a frequent concert emcee at the Syria Mosque and Civic Area from 1970 through 1974.. Terry Lee also produced and engineered the classic garage band recordings of the Swamp Rats, the Fantastic Dee Jays, and the Arondies that he released on his own record labels Sherry and Stone. He also managed those bands along with the Racket Squad, Chrome Flower, Lucy Blue, the Chains, Six Av Us, Church Street and many others. Terry hosted the popular television dance show “Come Alive” on Pittsburgh’s Channel 11 and the Terry Lee Show on WPGH-TV and KDKA-TV promoting the music of national and local acts. As a DJ, TV host, record producer, label owner, band manager, night club owner, and dance promoter Terry was one of the leaders of the Pittsburgh music business. Leaving Pittsburgh in the late 1980’s he helped found the KOOL Radio network which aired his live syndicated radio show “Music for Young Lovers” on 52 stations across the United States. Terry went on to own radio stations in Florida and Ohio before he returned to his many loyal fans in Pittsburgh in 2010.
Terry has received credit for breaking the singles "Nobody But Me" by the Human Beinz, "Dry Your Eyes" by Brenda and the Tabulations, "High on a Hill" by Scott English, "Because of You" by Rome & Paris, "You" by The Initials, "69" by The Arondies, "Love on a Two-Way Street" by The Moments, and "Mr Starlight" by Johnny Barfield, along with all of the Swamp Rats and Fantastic DeeJays records. Terry Lee was also one of the Pittsburgh’s DJs who took an obscure song from an unknown band and turned it into the number 1 nationwide hit "Hanky Panky" recorded by Tommy James & the Shondells. Terry says he played an acetate copy of the song on his radio show and at his dances months before it was aired by the other Pittsburgh Top 40 stations. Those are just of few of the many songs that he introduced to Pittsburgh audiences.
From Garage Band Guitarist to Dance and Radio DJ
Terry Lee was born in 1943 as Terry Lee Trunzo in the Mon Valley town o New Eagle, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Albert D. Trunzo Sr. and Pauline Carlson Trunzo. He graduated from Monongahela High School in 1960. His early goal was to be a musician. He was a self taught garage band guitarist who knew enough chords to make his way through popular tunes. With his friends Terry formed a rock n roll band that they called the ‘Rats. They made their first appearance at DJ Dee Galiffa’s popular dance at the Italian Citizens Club in Monongahela. Terry Trunzo later played in two other bands the “Titans" and "The Cadillacs."
By chance Terry Lee became a DJ and radio broadcaster. Terry Trunzo and his band where performing at a dance at the Finleyville Community Center. The disc jockey who was to play records between the band’s sets was a no-show. Terry’s friends ran out and brought in a turn table and records. Terry plugged the turn table into his guitar amp, took the mike, and spun records that night. Enjoying the DJ role immensely he rented the community center the following week to host a dance as the disc jockey. He was soon spinning records at high school dances and promoting his own events. To promote his dances he struck a deal with the Associated Theaters movie chain. In return for supplying Associated Theaters with music mix tapes Terry promoted his dances at movie concession stands.
Stan Wall of radio station WESA in Charleroi made tapes of Terry’s dances and aired the music on his station. Stan brought Terry into the station to show him how to use the studio equipment to edit tapes and package them into smooth presentations. At age 16 Terry went on the airwaves for the first time at on WESA with Stan Wall standing behind showing him what buttons to push. Terry found a career at WESA working there as a DJ from 1959 to 1963. At his mother’s suggestion he used his first and middle names as his radio name Terry Lee.
With his radio show the popularity of Terry Lee’s dances grew. Redd’s Beach in Fallowfield became one of Terry’s Lee’s most successful venues. Outdoor summer beach party dances were held on Monday nights for nine years. Terry played his “Magic TL sounds” and presented live national and local acts that included the the Temptations, Mystics, Undertakers, Chains, Electrons, St. James Place, Ithacas, Fenways, Fantastic DJ's and more. He also did many live broadcasts from Redd’s Beach.
Terry moved from WESA to stint at Carnegie’s WZUM as Tim Lee in 1963 followed by work at the 250 Watt WARO in Canonsburg from 1963 to 1964. At WARO he did some crazy promotions doing live broadcasts from a Bridgeville carnival Ferris wheel, the roofs of drive-in theater concession stands, and from a row boat in the middle of the Canonsburg Reservoir, The WARO station owners Tommy and Mary Lou Sutton gave him a lot of freedom. Besides playing music on air Terry also sold advertising time for his radio show. On the radio and at his teen dance Terry played a broad range of music. He liked songs with tight harmonies and rock beats that got people up and dancing. Terry used his radio show to promote his dances and drew thousands of teenagers to Mon Valley area venues and Redd’s Beach. He hosted dances at Redd’s Beach on Saturday and Monday nights in the summer of 1963. Jason Togyer of The Tube City Almanac said that Terry became “the de facto leader of the Mon Valley's teen scene.”
Radio Stardom at WMCK / WIXZ
At age 21 in May of 1964, Terry was recruited by Pete Stanton to join the 5,000 watt McKeesport station WMCK (1360-AM). At WMCK/WIXZ Terry Lee became one of Pittsburgh’s top radio DJs from the mid ‘60s through the mid '70s. In 1964 WMCK was a small AM station located in the Elks Temple on Market Street in downtown McKeesport. Broadcasting during daylight hours its programming consisted of high school sports and ethnic music. Terry livened up the WMCK airwaves playing rock and roll six nights a week and four hours on Sunday. His show ran from 6:30 p.m. to midnight. Teenagers across the Mon Valley tuned into Terry’s show after Porky Chedwick signed off his WAMO show. They wanted to hear more Rock and Roll. Terry picked the songs for his show and often played ‘B’ sides. His unique playlist became known as the “TL Sound”. In one segment of each show, that Terry dubbed “Music for Young Lovers” he played romantic ballads such the Scott English tune “High on a Hill”. He closed out his show every night with “Goodnight, My Love"
Tireless Dance Promoter
Terry took national and local acts on a mad dash gauntlet tour of Pittsburgh area record hops every weekend. He booked acts for four straight nights: Friday, Saturday and Sunday along with Monday night’s at Redd's Beach. The bands appeared before thousands of fans in short sets at three dances on each night. Traveling in a caravan the acts made stops at the Red Rooster, Blue Fox, White Elephant, Lebanon Lodge, Burke Glenn Ballroom, Varsity House and fire halls and social clubs across the Pittsburgh area. With Terry Lee's exposure to a larger audience on WMCK he drew teens from all over Western Pa to Monday nights at Redd’s Beach. Kicking off the 1964 summer season on June 1 at Redd’s Beach Terry Lee brought in the Cadillacs the originators of the hits songs "Gloria" and “Speedo”. Terry Lee continued live broadcasts of his Redd’s Beach parties on WMCK. Terry was so busy with his weekend record hop schedule that he had to tape his Friday and Saturday radio shows for airplay in the evening. He recorded the Friday night show between midnight and 6 a.m. on Thursday and the Saturday night show on Friday at midnight.
Record Producer and Band Manager
Around 1965 Terry Lee made after hours use of the WMCK studio to produce and engineer garage band records. He became a band manager and a record producer with his own record labels: Sherry and Stone. Terry Lee specialized in lo-fi 2 track recordings that featured heavy fuzz guitar and echo vocals. He produced and promoted a series of singles and albums by the Fantastic Dee Jays, the Swamp Rats, the Arondies and other bands that are respected favorites of vintage 1960s garage band music collectors around the world. These bands were popular in the Pittsburgh market during the 1960s with airplay of their singles on Pittsburgh radio stations and their live performances at Terry Lee’s many dances. Record collectors in the late 1970s digging for 60s garage rock gems unearthed the Swamp Rats and the Fantastic Dee Jays records sparking international interest in their music. A compilation album of the Swamp Rats recordings entitled "Disco Sucks" was released in 1979 by Keystone Records. Several of the Fantastic Dee Jay singles were reissued by Get Hip Records in 1995 and the “Fantastic Dee Jays” album was reissued by Millennia Records in 1996. A second Swamp Rats compilation album titled “Disco Still Sucks!” was released in 2003 by Get Hip Records.
Fantastic Dee Jays
In 1964 a group of McKeesport teenagers, vocalist/guitarist Dick Newton, drummer Tom Juneckom, and guitarist/vocalist Denny Nicholson formed a band called the ‘Larks” Terry Lee hired the Larks to perform at his dances in early 1965 and soon became their manager/producer. Terry renamed the band the Dee Jays. The band rehearsed every day after school in Dick Newton's basement. Terry directed their practices, picked their songs and organized their tight set list, wardrobe, and equipment. Their repertoire ranged from original British Invasion style pop garage rock songs to covers such as “Apache” and 'Fight Fire'. The hard work and long practice paid off at their first Saturday night appearance as the Dee Jays at one of Terry Lee’s dances . The crowd went wild screaming and rushing the stage. The following evening Terry Lee announced on his radio show "You've got to see the Dee Jays. They are fantastic!" The description stuck and they became the “Fantastic Dee Jays”. Only 16 years old they were on their way to Pittsburgh stardom. Terry recorded the Dee Jays after midnight at the WMCK studios. They released their debut single with their original song “This Love of Ours” and a cover of “Apache” on Terry Lee’s own Sherry label in March 1965. They recorded a cover of the John Fogerty song “Fight Fire” and recorded several original songs written by Denny Nicholson and Dick Newton. Vocalist / drummer Bob Hocko joined the band and sang lead vocals on the song “Get Away Girl” that he co-wrote with Nicholson and Newton. Terry Lee financed and produced the band’s self-titled album the “Fantastic Dee Jays” that was released in 1966 on Terry Lee’s Stone label. The album sold well in the Pittsburgh area but was not distributed nationally. It featured original Brit Pop style songs written by Dick Newton and Denny Nicholson: "Get Away Girl", "Love Is Tuff", “Two Tymes Too”, “Mr. Sad” and “Shy Girl”. After the opening for the Rolling Stones at West View Park's Danceland in 1966 the band disbanded leaving behind five fantastic 45s and one album. Dick Nicholson was drafted into the military and Tom Junecko enrolled in college.
The Arondies and ‘69’
At the same time that Terry was managing and producing the Fantastic Dee Jays he also became the manager of the Arondies in 1965. Guitarist Jim Pavlack, drummer Bill Scully, and bassist Gary Pittman formed The Arondies in Clairton, Pa. and began playing gigs in late 1963. They worked the local circuit playing Clairton’s Juliot Hotel, the Sigma Nu fraternity at Carnegie Tech, and they packed the Clairton VFW during football season. They also played at Terry Lee’s record hops. Terry plugged them on his radio WMCK show and brought them into his station for live performances in 1965. The Arondies began recording demos of their original songs in November of 1964 and Terry Lee taped their WMCK appearances. The Arondies released their debut single with two original songs "69" and "All My Love" on Terry Lee’s Sherry label. Terry broke ‘69’ on his radio show and other top 40 Pittsburgh stations played it heavily. During the summer of 1965 “69” was a smash hit in Pittsburgh that sold as quickly as it came off the presses. It sold over 1,200 copies in its first two days and sold over 10,000 copies a month. As demand increased later pressings were made on Astra, another small Pittsburgh label. The Arondies released the follow up single “One Dead Chicken" on Astra. In less than a year they broke off their management agreement with Terry Lee over a royalty dispute, The band broke up in 1967 with some of the members forming the band Soul Congress with Billy Sha-Rae that scored a national R&B hit with the song “Do It”. The Arondies left behind thirteen garage rock tracks that were released by Get Hip Records in 1999. Bruce Eder of Allmusic.com wrote: "69" is regarded as a garage rock instrumental classic.”
The Swamp Rats – Garage Punk Pioneers
After the Fantastic Dee Jays broke up Terry Lee organized a new harder edged band in 1966, The Swamp Rats, with a revolving cast of 12 musicians that included several former members of the Dee Jays. Terry produced and released the Swamp Rat singles on the small St. Clair label in 1966 and 1967. The early punk / garage music of the Swamp Rats was ahead of its time, linking mid-'60s garage rock with late-'60s crazy pre-metal MC5/Stooges rock. They were forerunners of the Ramones and MC5. Terry Lee recorded their debut single "Louie Louie"/"Hey Joe" with Dave Canon on lead vocals. Critic Jason calls the single one of the “essential garage 45s". The Swamp Rats second single was a cover of the Sonics “Psycho” that critics regard “as the Swamp Rats best song. Their next 45 was a fuzz cover of the Sparkles “No Friend of Mine” and the Stones “It’s Not Easy”. When Terry Lee took over hosting the “Come Alive” TV show in 1967 Nick Cenci took over management of the Swamp Rats. They broke up in 1967 after the release of their last single “In the Midnight Hour”. Record collectors in the late 1970s digging for 60s garage rock gems unearthed the Swamp Rats and the Fantastic Dee Jays records sparking international interest in their music. A compilation album of the Swamp Rats recordings entitled "Disco Sucks" was released in 1979 by Keystone Records. Several of the Fantastic Dee Jay singles were reissued by Get Hip Records in 1995. In 1996 the “Fantastic Dee Jays” album was reissued by Millennia Records. A second Swamp Rats compilation album titled “Disco Still Sucks!” was released in 2003 by Get Hip Records.
Fenways / Racket Squad
Around 1968 Terry Lee managed the psychedelic rock band the Racket Squad. The band was led by vocalist Sonny DiNunzi who had been a member of the Fenways. The Fenways song “Walk” released on Nick Cenci’s CO&CE label became a local hit in 1965 with the help of DiNunzio's cousin Terry Lee who broke it on WMCK. “Walk” reached the top of the charts on WMCK, KDKA, and KQV and reached the top 50 on the national charts. The Fenways were regulars on the Channel 11 Come Alive TV dance show when it was hosted by Chuck Brinkman and they opened for the Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark Five at the Civic Arena. DiNuzio re-launched the Fenways in 1968 as the hard rocking Racket Squad. The Racket Squad signed with Jubilee Records releasing several singles and two albums: “The Racket Squad” (1968) and “The Corners of Your Mind” (1969). The Racket Squad had a local hit single with "Hung Up" in 1967. Their best song was a remake the Skyliners’ song "The Loser" The Racket Squad broke up in 1970. Drummer Joey Covington became the drummer for the Hot Tuna and the Jefferson Airplane. Sonny formed the lounge band Sebastian that Terry Lee managed and recorded. Sonny died in a car crash in 1978. Terry Lee released the compilation album “Sonny” in 1978 to honor his cousin’s music.
Another collectable song that Terry Lee produced was the Stone Record’s single “Starry Eyed Woman / Gotta Keep Movin” by Chrome Flower in 1969. Bob Hocko a Dee Jays / Swamp Rate member formed a hard rock band Galactus with John Puckett on guitar, Jim Wilson on Bass and T.R. Zebrovious on drums. Terry produced and released their album in 1976. Bill Wiemer and Terry Lee arranged the single I’ve Got Enough Heartache / People released by the band Six Av Us on Stone Records.
Night Club Owner
Not busy enough with his 7 day a week radio shows and his gauntlet of weekend dances, and his band recording sessions, Terry Lee took on another business challenge. In 1966 he converted an old bowling alley into a hot Mon Valley night club that he christened “Nite Train”. Located in the West Elizabeth area on Glassport-Elizabeth Road Nite Train held 1,500 people and had two stages. The DJ and band performed on the main stage and the TL Go Go dancers performed their show from a second stage. Nite Train opened in June of 1966 with an appearance by the popular Pittsburgh act the Fenways. Terry booked national and local acts at Nite Train including the Turtles, Little Anthony and the Imperials, the Del Vikings, the Fabulous Rivieras, Jimmy Beaumont, the Chains, the Tornados, Tommy Mclain, the Agents. and Marcy Jo. To fit the club into his schedule Terry did live broadcasts of his radio show from Nite Train.
TV Dance Party Host
Terry's night time radio shows were top ranked in the Arbitron Ratings. His popularity in the ratings in 1967 was the primary reason he was hired by WIIC-TV Channel 11 to replace Chuck Brinkman as the host of the live Come Alive dance show. Terry hosted his first Come Alive show on September 7, 1967. The show opened with Terry Lee pulling up in a Cadillac limousine. Two Go Go Girls opened the limo door and out stepped Terry in a three piece suit carrying an ominous looking violin case. He turned to the camera and announced "I'm Terry Lee and I'm taking over 'Come Alive'. Each week Terry presented national and local acts that performed their hit songs for the live teen dancers. The show also featured the “Come Alive Review” dancers. Terry took the dancers on the road presenting "Come Alive Revue" at Redd's Beach splash parties. Terry hosted The Come Alive Show on WIIC for three years until 1970. Terry’s next foray into television was at WPGH in 1976 where he produced the “Terry Lee Show”. The show ran for two years on WPGH and was picked up by KDKA where it ran until 1980. Top acts who appeared on Come Alive and the Terry Lee show include the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Monkees, Temptations, Human Beinz, Easybeats, Herman's Hermits, Boz Scaggs, Kool and the Gang, Grateful Dead, Turtles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, American Breed, the Association, Canned Heat, Spiral Staircase, Archie Bell & the Drells, Four Tops, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Edwin Starr, and many more.
Number One at WIXZ
The owners of WMCK offered to sell the station to Terry Lee in 1969. But he was busy having fun running his Nite Train club and thought that he would have the opportunity to buy WMCK later. WWMCK was sold in 1969 to the Westchester Corporation, a group of Top 40 radio veterans who already owned station WIXY-1260 in Cleveland. Westchester changed the format to Top 40 Rock, changed the call letters to XIXZ and fired all of the on air staff except for Terry Lee. The station moved from the old Elks Hall to an office building at the corner of Long Run Road and Walnut Street in McKeesport. WIZX did well in the Pittsburgh Market taking the number one rating spot in the teen audience. In 1969 and 1970 Terry’s show was number 1 in its time slot beating out stations with much strong signals. He was at the peak of his Pittsburgh radio career as one of Pittsburgh’s top jocks.
But working around the clock seven days a week on his WIXZ radio shows, doing record hops, running his night club, and producing bands took its toll. His weight dropped and he collapsed one night in the WIXZ studios. Terry Lee’s doctor said that he had to slow down tokeep from burning out and to take care of his health. Terry Left WIXZ in 1971 at the top of his game. He returned to WIXZ in 1973 when he was asked by Alan Serena to do a Sunday evening show from 6 to 12. It ran until 1974. Station WKTQ (13Q) with its fast paced Top 40 Rock format and more powerful signal overtook WIXZ in the ratings in 1973. After losing the teen market WIXZ went after the adult demographic and switched to a beautiful music format in March of 1974.
In the mid 1970’s and 1980’s the popularity of AM Top 40 radio declined with the rise album oriented FM rock stations. AM stations converted to the talk formats. Terry Lee continued to work in the Pittsburgh radio market at several stations from the mid 1970s through the early 1980s. He was heard on WZUM-1590 in Carnegie, WESA in Charleroi, WLSW in Scottdale, and WRUA-1510 in Monroeville. After leaving WRUA Lee opened a record store in Charleroi and promoted concerts. He also was the DJ at hotel dances playing tunes from the 1950s and 1960s.
Music For Young Lovers Goes National
Terry moved to Phoenix in 1988 to help launch the KOOL Gold syndicated radio format. He began by setting up the oldies library at KOOL Gold’s flagship station KOOL-AM in Phoenix, Arizona. Terry helped to create the KOOL Gold Timeless Classics music format. He produced the show “Music for Young Lovers” that KOOL GOLD syndicated on 52 stations across the United States. Terry Lee was heard live on stations in San Diego, Seattle, St. Louis, Wilmington, Charleston, Naples, Fresno, Monterrey, Buffalo, Grand Rapids, and many other cities. It ran for two years. To take care of his ailing father Terry Lee moved to Florida in 1990. There he bought radio station WMIB-AM in Marco Island, Florida. In 1990 Terry sold WMIB. He moved in 1992 to Mansfield, Ohio where he purchased station WAPQ-FM. Deciding to retire he sold WAPQ in 1998.
In February of 2008 Terry returned to Pittsburgh to host a dance party at the Palisades in McKeesport. He was given a standing ovation by 600 fans as he walked into the room. That appearance lead to a regular program on Pittsburgh station WLSW(103.9) that ran on Saturdays from 10 P.M. to Midnight. It was his first time on radio in years. In July of 2010 Terry Lee moved his show to WJAS 1320 AM on Sunday nights from 8 PM to Midnight. Terry Lee now broadcasts his “Music For Young Lovers show” 24 hours a day via the internet at tlsound.com reaching over 20.000 household each month. He hosts dances on the record hop circuit again stopping at McKeesport's Palisades, Castle Shannon's Linden Grove, the Stockdale Fire Hall, Monessen Elks and Troy Hill's Most Holy Name Society. He also has issued several CD compilation albums of the music that he played on his shows using his original show tapes from WMCK and WIXZ. The eight CDs include Lee 's shows at WMCK from 1964-1966 and 1967-1969, his WIXZ shows from 1969-1974, and his syndicated programs from Across America and the KOOL Gold Network. Terry is also writing a book about his years in the radio and music business. Terry Lee continued to do what he loves playing music, hosting dances, and entertaining his many loyal radio fans
Tery Lee died at age 70 on July 30, 2013 at his home in Bellville, Ohio, after a battle with lung cancer.
Rats Guitarist (TL Sound Company Photo)
Terry at WMCK
WMCK McKeesport Elks Hall