Living the Back 9

By Mark Petty

The Back 9 (noun): 1. The last 9 holes of a golf course; 2. The next half of your life.

Terrence Parker has been around. For over thirty years he has been DJ’ing and producing music. He was influenced by some of the preeminent DJ’s Detroit has to offer including Jeff “The Wizard” Mills and The Electrifying Mojo. He got his first two turntables and mixer at age eleven and the rest, as the man said, is history. He produced the seminal recordings, “Love’s Got Me High” and “The Question” along with the classic album, Detroit After Dark. Now, with his fist LP since 1999, Life on the Back 9, The Telephone Man invites us into the next phase of his life.

TP 3

As a turntablist, he is certainly a DJ’s DJ. Skilled at mixing, scratching and all the tricks, his repertoire was featured at The Grasshopper Underground in Ferndale, presented by Stimulus Wednesdays. He is amazing to watch, not just in operating the tools of his trade, but also the joy it produces, both in the crowd and himself. He uses CD’s and turntable controllers, so to watch as he digs through his huge book of recordings is much like my middle school librarian digging through that old fashioned card catalogue. He makes a selection, mixes it in, does his magic and then enjoys it with the crowd, singing along with them – Pure Joy – For a number of reasons he made the switch from vinyl to CD’s some time ago, but it is not like he simply presses “play” and lets the machine do the work. It is a very organic experience. As he told Attack Magazine, “…things like dance floor knowledge and how to read a crowd cannot be mastered in a computer file”.

His trademark telephone handset is a perfect example of keeping technology in its place. He got the idea from a friend some time ago and has used it ever since for some very practical reasons. He says that it is durable, the cords don’t get in his way while he’s working and through it he can clearly hear the hi-hats, from which he is able to draw his cues for mixing. Also, he admits that it makes a pretty cool prop.

It’s no secret that TP is a man of faith, and Life on the Back 9 bears that out. Titles like, “Saved Forever,” “God He Is” and “Open Up Your Spirit” attest to his deep spirituality. But it’s not like he’s up on some pulpit, pointing his finger down at you. Kelly Frazier of Huffington Post Detroit describes it as, “soulful gospel house with a deep techno sound.” And that’s exactly what it is. This is Electronic Dance Music emanating from the soul of a believer. To me it’s like the good part of church: the music, singing, clapping, and dancing. Right up until the time the guy in the bad suit starts to speak. Parker told Frazier, “I talk to people about…my faith from a place of love and not a place of condemnation.” This is a church without a preacher. He’s a man of grace and comfort, happy to tell his story, if you’re willing to hear it.

I’m on my back 9, too. I’ve had my share of sand traps and water hazards. But I got here. Like Terrence, the experience I’ve gained, and the confidence and peace that experience brings, has made me more excited about my life than I have ever been. Like him, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

For more information please visit Terrence Parker’s official website:

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