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The Unforgettable Terry Tanger

Jul. 15, 2011
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I don't suppose the X-Cleavers were giving much thought to the future the evening they debuted at a warehouse loft party on the near South Side. It was 1979 and the garagey-sounding band already had a '60s pop edge, placing them somewhere near the new wave end of the new music spectrum. For the most part their contemporaries on the Milwaukee scene came and went, but the X-Cleavers maintained their core lineup as they expanded their audience as well as the scope of their sound. The Cleavers came to end with the death of vocalist-guitarist Terry Tanger earlier this week.

As anyone who knew him would agree, Terry Tanger was one of nicest of guys, with an easy sense of humor and a refreshingly unpretentious love and knowledge of music. Alongside bassist Tom Lesions and drummer John Gaskell, Terry guided the Cleavers to their breakout local radio hit, the irresistible “Skip a Beat,” and infused the band with reggae influences. Terry also played for many years in local reggae bands, most recently with King Solomon. His songwriting overflowed into other projects as well.

Over the last few years Terry battled cancer, and for a long while appeared to be winning. In an odd coincidence, the X-Cleavers close friend Dan Sokolovic, who released a number of Cleavers-related projects on his Neven record label, died unexpectedly a few weeks ago.

Friends of Terry Tanger are invited to a memorial gathering at 5 p.m., July 18 at the Milwaukee Yacht Club.


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