Terry Mulligan & the Louisiana Boys
Taken from the liner notes of the debut album Terry Mulligan & The Louisiana Boys
In 1990, Houma singer-songwriter bassist Terry Mulligan four of his soulful original songs.
Carlo Ditta, The New Orleans based producer of Guitar Slim Jr's Grammy-nominated 1988 album Story Of My Life, helmed Mulligan's one-day session at Hart Sound in Belle Chase. But he never released Mulligan's 1990 session - until now. This four-song EP features an unknown keyboardist and Mulligan's long-time band members, guitarist Lucious Herbert and drummer Ronnie George. "That's my little backbone, my nucleus right there," Mulligan says of his bass, guitar, and drums trio.* "Anything else I can just add in."
Thirty-one years ago, Mulligan, a popular musician in Houma known to his fellow players as Mug, grabbed Ditta's interest in 1990 via a demo of his songs. "Carlo came a runnin'. He said, "Man, I want to put you on a record."I accepted him because he was the first one to accept me. So after that, we were in the studio going at it," Mulligan recalled. "It Just didn't materialize past that one session," Ditta said. Ditta rediscovered the Mulligan tapes earlier this year when his partner Danielle heard the songs and loved them. "Danielle digs it," Ditta said. "And I always liked it, but now I realize that maybe it's more timely than it was when we recorded it."
Mulligan's Orleans records debut features the danceable Country-soul song "Cold Lover" and three soul-deep, genre-straddling ballads, "When You Were Down," "I'm So Hooked On You," and Nothing Lasts Forever."
A lifelong resident of Louisiana except for his two years in the Marine Corps, Mulligan is a celebrity in Houma, where he's performed locally for more than 40 years.
Born in Houma in 1958, Mulligan grew up loving his mother's Sam Cooke records, the 1950s and 60's Pop and Soul star who was among the first black artist to form his own record and publishing companies. "My mama had a lot of Sam Cooke records," he remembered. "I listened to them and told my mama I want to do like him." She said, "You need to look him up and read about him because he was always a person who wanted us to educate ourselves." Mulligan adds, "So I started reading about him. I was fascinated with him and his achievements."
Mulligan began playing bass at eight, beginning with his uncle's old Silvertone bass guitar. Thrilled to have a bass though he was, the instrument only had one string. "But I learned how to hit all my notes on that one string," he said. "Whatever that song was, my hand was running all over that string." Realizing her song had a gift, Mulligan's mother soon bought a four-string Fender bass for him. At 14, he was playing with professional players in Houma bars. "They let me play on the stage with the old guys, and I'm a little kid with the bass that's bigger than myself. But I was the best bass player in Houma back then."
Mulligan continued doing music during two years of college at Southern University in New Orleans and two years in Marine Corps. Returning to Houma following his military service, he worked as a police officer and a truck driver before spending 28 years on offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
After experiencing racial segregation first-hand during his childhood, Mulligan always aspired to creating songs that heal. "Everything I went through as a kid, that I watched, that made me want to learn how to put this in words," he said. "A lot of my songs are about love and people needing each other. I want to write something that will help everybody."
Written by John Wirt, December 2021; author of the New Orleans music biography Huey Piano Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues.