An Amazing Reunion – Terry Kingen

Amazing Reunion is a series of stories that honor old friends that have profoundly affected my life. It is a series that acknowledges the influence of those who have helped me become who I am today. I am grateful for these people and want them to know. 

Have you ever thought about old friends? Have you ever wondered… where is _______________(fill in the blank)? Well I have. In my youth there was a group of guys who were like me. We were boys who connected to our gifts early. While our other friends were playing kickball, soccer, or tag, we were in my parents basement or in Guy’s garage ( you will learn more about the amazing Guy Johnson in my next entry) playing Jimi Hendrix, Mountain, Led Zeppelin, and James Gang. I loved these guys with all my heart. In many many ways we were the “odd balls” and in another way we carried a sort of celebrity status. In the next few entries I would like to pay tribute to my old, new friends. I hope this inspires you to reconnect as well. We are not always aware of the impact we have had  on others and reconnecting with these amazing men that has helped me realize that even the simplest acts of kindness or spontaneous moments can have an unbelievable impact and inspiration on those around us. 

I searched for them from time to time but with no luck. For decades I thought about them. One of my favorite musical artists is the great Frank Zappa. My friend Terry Kingen and I used to go to his concerts when he came to Seattle. Sometimes waiting 6 or 7 hours at the door of the Paramount Theater to be the first ones in! Every time I hear a Frank Zappa song I think of Terry. I have since I was 14 years old.  I searched his name and was never able to find him. Then through a series of phone calls and synchronistic occurrences, which I will get to in future entries, I reconnected to Terry Kingen. Even though it had been 30 some years since we had seen each other, when I saw his trade mark Terry Kingen smile and heard his cheerful voice, it was as though no time had passed at all.  


Although back in the day, he had long dark hair, which has been replaced by short grey hair, the youthful and mischievous sparkle in his eyes has not dimmed. Terry was always the best musician of us all. While we were playing blues riffs and figuring out what the heck chords were in a song, Terry was taking lessons and practicing his Mixolydian Modes, Phrygian Scales, and his Dominant flatted 2nd what-evers! 

Over the years, he has developed into one of the greatest guitar players I have ever heard and has become a prolific songwriter whose style is somewhere between Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. Whether he is on his pink paisley Telecaster or his deep rich acoustic guitar, Terry plays with a driving rhythm and sings with a soulful tone. His music reaches deep into you and gently extracts the goodness of life that sometimes hides beneath the rough waves and tumultuous currents of the everyday goings on; sometimes with a hint of mischievous sarcasm. 


But this is not all that makes Terry Kingen great. What to me makes him a very amazing human being is his humility, willingness to help a friend in need, and his complete lack of judgement. Terry is an example of finding the best in each person he meets. He is quick to set aside differences to find the common ground of connection. When you have a conversation with him you can feel the authentic interest he has in knowing who you really are and hearing what you have to say.

I am so fortunate to have re-connected with Terry. Sometimes it seems that life passes us by and the rich joy of the past is all we have to hold onto. I am here to say that sometimes that rich joy of the past comes around and makes another pass through life. 

Thank you, Terry.

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One Response to “An Amazing Reunion – Terry Kingen”

  1. Terry Kingen May 11, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    Hey Toby!

    Very kind of you to see the best in all of us. You’re work is fascinating and it’s been an absolute pleasure to become re-acquainted. Looking forward to visiting – lots to talk about, ol’ friend!

    Cya soon,

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