Reid was born in Huntingdon; he lived in the village of Holywell & attended St Ivo School, St Ives, Cambridgeshire. After leaving school at the age of 15 Reid joined Peter Jay's Jaywalkers after being spotted by the band's drummer, Peter Jay. At the time, Reid was playing for a local band, The Redbeats, who regularly played at the River Club in St Ives.
His public profile was enhanced in 1966 when The Jaywalkers were named as a support act for The Rolling Stones for their concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Graham Nash of The Hollies became friends with Reid at that concert, and suggested The Jaywalkers sign up with UK Columbia Records - an EMI label - to record with producer John Burgess. Their first single, the Soul-inspired "The Hand Don't Fit the Glove" was a minor hit in 1967, but by then The Jaywalkers had decided to disband.
Reid came to the attention of producer Mickie Most, who became his manager and who was in partnership with Peter Grant at the time. His first single with Most, "Better By Far", became a radio favourite, but the album, Bang Bang, You're Terry Reid, was not a commercial success. With accompanying musicians Peter Solley on organ and Keith Webb on drums, a 1968 tour of the United States with Cream did much to gain Reid a loyal following. His final performance of the tour at the Miami Pop Festival garnered positive reviews from the music press.
The song "Without Expression", from Bang Bang, You're Terry Reid, written by Reid age 14 was recorded by The Hollies in 1968 as "A Man With No Expression" and by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in 1969 as "Horses Through a Rainstorm", with Nash singing lead on both. "Horses Through a Rainstorm" was supposed to be included on CSN&Y's 'Deja Vu' album but was replaced at the last minute by Stephen Still's song "Carry On" . Both versions were not released until years later.
Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page managed by Peter Grant became interested in Reid's work, and when The Yardbirds disbanded, Page wanted Reid to fill the vocalist spot for his proposed new group, the New Yardbirds, which was to become Led Zeppelin. Reid had already committed to go on the road for two tours with The Rolling Stones and another with Cream (as an opening act on the 1968 US Tour). Reid suggested to Page that if he were compensated for the gig fees he'd miss out on and Page would call Keith Richards to explain why Reid had to pull out of the US tours Reid would try some things out with Page.
It never happened and Reid told Jimmy to consider a young Birmingham-based singer, Robert Plant, instead, having previously seen Plant's Band of Joy as a support act at one of his concerts. Reid also suggested Page to check out their drummer John Bonham. An alternative reason for Reid's refusal to join the nascent Led Zeppelin surfaced in a mid 80's article in NME on supposed satanic connections within the rock world. The article claimed that it was Page's "heavy reputation as a Crowleyan black magician", which frightened Reid away from commitment to the band. Reid later was offered a position as a member of Deep Purple when they decided to replace singer Rod Evans, but once again, he declined due to contractual agreements. Ian Gillan was given the position instead.
In 1969, Reid supported British tours, notably Jethro Tull and Fleetwood Mac. Reid, Solley and Webb toured the United States again when he opened for The Rolling Stones on their 1969 American Tour. He did not appear at the infamous Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Music Festival. In his May 2016 interview with Marc Maron, he discussed other groups and people he toured with including Jimi Hendrix.
In December 1969, Reid had a falling out with producer Mickie Most, who wanted Reid to become a balladeer, and to strictly follow Most's own formula. Unable to record or release his music Reid concentrated on live work mostly in the US whilst awaiting the outcome of litigation over his contract with Most, making only sporadic UK performances during that period. In 1970, he returned briefly to England to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival, supported by David Lindley and Tim Davis. During this period he also performed at the Atlanta II Pop Festival. Reid was filmed performing in Glastonbury Fayre, the 1971 film by David Puttnam and Nicolas Roeg. In 1971, Reid was signed by Ahmet Ertegun to a new contract with Atlantic Records and his band by then was David Lindley, Lee Miles and Alan White, they began recording in the UK and later switched to the US. Later White left to join Yes and Lindley left to tour with Jackson Browne, Lee Miles remained and was Reid's trusty sidekick for many years to come. Other musicians on the album titled River included Conrad Isodore on drums and Willie Bobo on percussion. Produced by Tom Dowd (Derek & the Dominoes, etc.) and mixed by Yes' Eddie Offord, River was eventually released in 1973 and received favourable reviews, but failed commercially. The remainder of the material from those extensive sessions was released in 2016 as The Other Side of The River.
Over the next decade, Reid switched to different labels in search of a winning formula; Seed of Memory released by ABC Records in 1976 (produced by Graham Nash) ( ABC filed for bankruptcy the week the album was released )and Rogue Waves released by Capitol Records in 1979. He retired his solo career in 1981 to concentrate on session work, appearing on albums by Don Henley, Jackson Browne, UFO, High Stakes & Dangerous Men and Bonnie Raitt. In 1991, Reid returned with former Yes producer Trevor Horn, on the album The Driver. The album featured a cover version of the Spencer Davis Group classic written by Steve Winwood: "Gimme Some Lovin'", which had earlier appeared on the Days of Thunder soundtrack. "The Whole of the Moon", written by Mike Scott, was released as a single and received considerable airplay, with backing vocals performed by Enya. Reid played occasional live gigs with a band that included Brian Auger. In the 1990s, he also toured the US and Hong Kong with ex-Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. In 1998, "Rich Kid Blues" was the eponymous song on an album released by Marianne Faithfull, produced by Mike Leander in 1984 but unreleased for 14 years. Touring in support of her 2002 album Kissin Time, Faithfull included a performance of "Rich Kid Blues".
In late 2002, Reid returned to the UK with Lee Miles for his first appearance in years; this was for three shows at the WOMAD festival near Reading. In 2005 he returned for a UK tour with London shows at The 100 Club and Ronnie Scott's. One venue billed him as 'The Man with a Hell of a Story To Tell'. This began a run of regular visits by Reid who has toured the UK every year since. For appearances at festivals and his London shows Reid uses a full band and venues have included The Jazz Cafe, The Borderline, The 100 Club, Dingwalls, The Half Moon and notably Ronnie Scott's where in 2009 he was invited to perform a week long residency as part of their 50th anniversary (one of only 6 non-jazz acts to do so). This became Reid's favourite venue and he had residencies there for several years after. In 2012 his album "Live in London" featured an entire set from one of these nights at Ronnies and as it was released with no remixes or overdubs it truly captures Reid in full flight. Reid's UK band regularly attracts some of the best UK session players and clips from many of these London gigs can be found on YouTube. His UK regional shows since, either solo or as a duo with pianist Bruce Malament, were equally inspiring; sadly Malament passed way in 2007. Between 2002 and 2012 Reid appeared at Glastonbury several times and many other festivals: The Isle of Wight, The Secret Garden (twice) The Rhythm Festival (twice) All Tomorrows Parties etc. Also during this period EMI produced the "Superlungs" box set of his first two albums and all his sessions for them recorded between 1966-70. Also Seed of Memory and River became available on CD and a new live album. Alive, was released by Sanctuary records - this was first available from Reid himself who made 200 copies to sell at WOMAD 2002, and features Terry's friends including Elliot Easton from the Cars, etc. on a mid-90's US club show.
Terry Reid's songs are popular with filmmakers. In 1999 his song "Dean" from the River album appeared in the film "The Criminal" and later in 2003 three of his songs, "Seed of Memory", (the title track to Seed of Memory), "To Be Treated Rite", and "Brave Awakening", appeared in the movie The Devil's Rejects (2005), directed by Rob Zombie. Also, his song "Faith To Arise" was in the 2003 film Wonderland and in 2009 his song 'Be Yourself" which he wrote for Graham Nash's Songs For Beginners appeared in the George Clooney film "Up In the Air". In 2005 Reid actually had a part in movie "The Greatest Game Ever Played" where he plays a caddy in a movie about the origins of the PGA golf championship directed by Bill Paxton.
In July/August 2007 Reid returned for another six-week UK tour being backed by The Cosmic American Derelicts, a band out of northern New Jersey and southern New York, and their guitar player Eddie Rainey became a member of Reid's band for 3 or 4 years. On 26 June 2009, Reid appeared with Rainey at Great Yarmouth club The Residence. Reid also performed with Peter Jay for the first time in over 15 years on a cover of The Beach Boys song "Don't Worry Baby". At this gig Reid appeared with the local support band Second Hand Blues to perform a cover of the Donovan song "Season of the Witch", this song has become one of the most watched videos of Terry Reid on YouTube.
Reid is also popular with newer artists as a collaborator; the pairing of Shine, a French trip-hop act, and Reid led to him spending a week in Paris to record several tracks as guest vocalist. They played a one-off at the Pigalle Club in London on 26 August 2009. and Shine featuring Terry Reid was released as an EP in November 2009. More recently Reid has been in San Francisco lending his voice to the track "Listen" by DJ Shadow as one of a few bonus tracks added to on his best of album. Another collaboration has yet to see the light of day: "All God's Need Dancing Shoes" with Alabama 3.
The UK artist Rumer recorded his song "Brave Awakening" and appeared with him on her 'Boys Don't Cry' 2012 album and appeared at his London shows at the Jazz Cafe and Half Moon. The American rock group Cheap Trick recorded Reid's "Speak Now" for their debut album. Also, in 1973, the American rock group REO Speedwagon recorded Reid's "Without Expressions (Don't Be the Man)" for their Ridin' The Storm Out album. "Without Expression (Don't Be The Man)" was also recorded by John Mellencamp on his greatest hits album, The Best That I Could Do: 1978–1988.
The Raconteurs with Jack White recorded a version of Reid's "Rich Kid Blues" for their second album Consolers of the Lonely in 2008.
The American rock group The Split Squad recorded a cover of Reid's "Tinker Taylor" for their debut album, "Now Hear This...", released in 2014.
An unauthorized documentary based on Reid's music career titled Superlungs is currently in production (2016) and features a quote by Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant stating, "Terry was probably the best singer of that period".Bang, Bang You're Terry Reid (1968)
Terry Reid (1969) (US title: Move Over for Terry Reid)
Seed of Memory (1976)
Rogue Waves (1979)
The Hand Don't Fit The Glove (1985)
The Driver (1991)
Super Lungs The Complete Studio Recordings 1966–1969 (2004)
Silver White Light – Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (2004)
Live in London (2013)
The Other Side of the River (2016)
Glastonbury Fayre (1972) Directed by Nicolas Roeg features "Dean" (extended jam w/ Linda Lewis) drummer in the band at the time was Alan White who would later join 'Yes', plus lap-steel player David Lindley who worked with Ry Cooder and Jackson Browne.
Wonderland (2003) features "Faith to Arise" and "Dean"
The Devil's Rejects (2005) Directed by Rob Zombie features "Brave Awakening", "To Be Treated Rite" and "Seed of Memory"
Groupies – Cherry Red Films – 1970 performance and backstage footage in San Francisco: "Bang Bang" and "Superlungs My Supergirl"
The Summit (2013 documentary) features "July" over the closing credits.
Superlungs (2016) a feature length documentary based on the life and music career of Terry Reid.