Some musicians are famous for 15 minutes. Others stay famous (and rich) for 50 years.
Then there are those like Terry Callier, the Chicago soul and bluesman who died Saturday at 67 of cancer.
Possessed with a sweetly disarming baritone voice that shone through songs like "Ordinary Joe" and "Dancing Girl," and a wealth of conceptual ambition, Callier and his hard-to-classify music never quite found their audience in the 1960s and '70s, at least not on the level attained by funky friends like Curtis Mayfield. His music, thoughtful, earnest and frequently wrapped in graceful, shimmering orchestrations, didn't fit neatly into any narrow marketing niche.
But in the late 1990s Callier finally got his due when he was rediscovered in Britain by acid-jazz aficionados and brought to London to perform. He ended up tapping a gusher of inspired new material, starting with his 1998 release "TimePeace," and collaborating with Paul Weller and Beth Orton, among others.
It was a suprising twist to a career that had begun in the early 1960s, when Callier started cutting discs with Chess Records while still in high school, before attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. According to some sources, he was raised in Chicago's notorious Cabrini-Green housing projects, and his childhood friends included Mayfield and Jerry Butler of the Impressions.