Terry Tolkin, who is credited with coining the term “Alternative Music,” has died at 62
Terry Tolkin, a producer, label owner and A&R man who is credited with coining the term "Alternative Music" and worked with Luna, Stereolab, Afghan Whigs and more, died today in New Orleans. He was 62. The news comes from Luna's Dean Wareham, who wrote, "He was hospitalized a few weeks ago, has been dealing with sepsis and organ failure. His brother Daniel has been watching over him this week. Terry has been through a lot in recent years, I honestly think he is now in a better place. He was a key figure in my life, for Luna and many other musical artists he believed in. Maybe some of you know our 'Chinatown' song was about Terry. Will have more to say soon."
It was while working for music trade publication Rockpool in 1979 that Terry used the term "Alternative Music" to help describe the underground punk and post punk groups he wrote about. He also worked at famed NYC record store / label 99 Records (home of ESG and Liquid Liquid), and as an A&R person for Touch & Go, he signed Butthole Surfers. In the late '80s he started No. 6 Records, a subsidiary of Rough Trade, which released acclaimed 1989 Neil Young tribute album The Bridge, as well as singles by Unrest, Tindersticks, Nada Surf, and more. As part of the A&R team for Elektra Records from 1992-1996, Terry signed Luna, Stereolab, Afghan Whigs, Nada Surf and other bands to the label. Terry had been sick for a while -- Dean Wareham released Luna demos in 2015 to raise money for his medical bills -- and had been living in New Orleans and working on his memoirs.
Rest easy, Terry.