Terry Stafford was known primarily as a singer who sounded almost identical to Elvis Presley and is remembered as a one-shot artist for a huge hit he had in 1964, although it was not his only top forty hit.
Terry LaVerne Stafford was born in 1941 in Hollis, Oklahoma and moved to Amarillo, Texas as a child. He grew up in Amarillo and graduated from Palo Duro High School there in 1960. Easy-going, soft-spoken and shy, Terry was intent on a career as a pop singer and shortly after graduation he moved to Los Angeles. As much as he loved Amarillo, he knew that there would be far more opportunitites in his chosen field on the West Coast.
He worked hard to get noticed in a crowded field. Working with Bob Summers, the brother-in-law of music pioneer Les Paul, Terry recorded Suspicion on the Crusader label. It had first been recorded by Elvis Presley and appeared on Elvis' 1962 album Pot Luck. Summers played all the instruments, as well as serving as engineer, on Stafford's version. The recording became a huge hit. In April 1964 when the Beatles made music history by holding all of the top five spots on the record chart simultaneously, Terry Stafford's Suspicion was at number 6. The following week with the Beatles at numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5, Stafford's hit reached its peak at number 3. It sold over a million copies.
In the same vain as perceptions of Presley sound-alike Ral Donner from Chicago (You Don't Know What You've Got [Until You Lose It]), many thought that the singer on Stafford's version of Suspicion sounded so much like Elvis Presley that it actually was Presley. Finally at age 22, Stafford was being noticed by the record-buying public. Suspicion was a #31 hit in the British Isles. He continued to make records, and to sound like Presley on many of them. He had a follow-up hit with I'll Touch A Star, number 25 in the summer of 1964, but it was to be his last record to reach the top forty.
Terry Stafford had a part in the 1969 film Wild Wheels. From the late 60's on into the 1980's, Stafford turned his attention to writing music. Two of his compositions gained notice. One of these was Big In Dallas, which was re-written and recorded as Big In Vegas by Buck Owens, who had a country hit with Big In Vegas in 1969. The other was a song writtten by Stafford about his beloved hometown, Amarillo By Morning, a hit for George Strait in the early 80's.
Following the enormous success of Suspicion Terry remained in Los Angeles but returned frequently to Amarillo over the years. He experienced health problems, gaining weight and developing trouble with his liver. He died from liver failure in Amarillo in 1996, and is buried there.
Terry Stafford is remembered for the uncanny resemblance of his singing voice to that of Elvis Presley, and for his one huge hit, Suspicion.
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