It would be easy to underestimate the contribution of Terry "Blackhand" Chambers to the early success of XTC. With no involvement in the group's song writing and little input into their interviews or image, it is often assumed that Terry was "just a drummer." However, the sound that Terry and the group's successive producers came up with was incredibly important to the overall texture of some of XTC's greatest albums and influenced a whole generation of other drummers.

Terry was born on July 16, 1955 in the same nursing home as Dave Gregory. The youngest of three children born to Peter and Eileen Chambers, he has an older sister Gloria and brother Dave.

At the age of sixteen, after an unimpressive and unproductive life at school , his sights were set on a career as a professional football (soccer) player, but he was turned down after a trial with Swindon Town Football Club; they thought he was too weak physically.

In 1972, spurred on by his love of the drum sound of Led Zepplin's John Bonham, he bought his first drum kit and dedicated himself to learning how to play. Shortly after, Terry met up with another local lad - Colin Moulding. The two young men hit it off immediately and, although neither felt particularly confident on their chosen instrument, they decided to form a band with a friend of Terry's - guitarist Steve Phillips.

Although nothing came from the scant few rehearsals that the unnamed band had, Colin and Terry promised each other that if either were involved in other bands, the other would have a role there too.

After Colin met up with Andy Partridge in late 1972 and the two began jammin' together, both revealed that they had a friend who would love to be involved in a band.

In March 1973 Andy and Colin - along with Terry and Andy's friend Dave Cartner - formed Star Park, who played their first gig just two months later supporting Thin Lizzy.

Partridge's fascination with glam rock and space travel came to the foreground as the group mutated into The Helium Kidz. Terry was unhappy with "being dressed up as a pansy," and made little effort to adopt the group's sartorial style.

Over the next two years the group played extensively and recorded several demo sessions for companies including Decca and Pye, but line up changes came/went and led nowhere until Partridge, as the group's main songwriter, discarded his glam obsession in favour of a more original approach.

Writing shorter, sci-fi and technology orientated songs, the band flirted with the name The Dukes Of Stratosphear before settling on the punchier XTC in mid-1975.

From the outset, Terry's drum style was integral to the overall sound of the band. Bass heavy and never missing a beat, Terry would work up a sweat night after night driving the band's music forward. XTC tours became legendary, not only for the music, but also for the awesome capacity that the drummer had for consuming alcohol. The band were almost booted out of Japan when a worse-for-wear Terry was discovered to have invited several young ladies to an all-night drinking session in his Tokyo hotel room.

Terry's drum sound on Drums And Wires and Black Sea was directly responsible for the production on ex-Genesis member Phil Collins' solo work. It was no coincidence either, as both acts used the same producers/studios, & recorded for the same company. The mix on XTC recordings brought the drums to the foreground, and a whole swathe of early and mid 1980's bands adopted this style.

Terry was with the band until the rehearsal sessions for their 1983 album Mummer. He did not enjoy the sessions and found it difficult to get to grips with Andy's slower, more pastoral work.

Annoyed with the fact that they had now stopped touring - Terry's raison d'être for being in a band in the first place - and now with Australian girlfriend Donna Blanchard and son Kai, he left the country and moved down under.

Shortly after migrating - Terry reappeared with Australian band Icehouse on their hit album Primitive Man before joining another group, Dragon and appearing on their album The Body And The Beat - since their demise in 1986 he has turned his back on the music industry.

Terry and his family - he and Donna also have a daughter named Corrie - live in Newcastle, New South Wales.

© Darryl W. Bullock and Optimism's Flames