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January 05, 2006



Great story. Do you have more info about TK and the Hotel Chelsea incident?


BTW, Terry's mother Jane C. Folger of Bayonne NJ died on Flight 93 in Shanksville PA on the morning of 9/11/01. She was 73, a retiree.


Thanks Irwin for the wonderful story. I've always wondered what happened to TKF, I never got the whole story. I do however, have two cassettes of his infamous christmas shows.


Irwin, thanks for the post; not nearly enough is said about Terry when it comes to WFMU history. His music choices and unpredictable mic style were a joy to experience. In fact, I sorely miss the (potential) mayhem of the pre-Jersey City days of the station, not only from Terry's show, but a whole host of others as well.

I believe Terry's telling of the night of his jump from the Chelsea roof would vary slightly depending on his mood and who was listening. I recall that he was with his oldest and dearest friends Joe and Jack, and that a lot of alcohol was also involved. I always got the feeling that his jump was more a spontaneous act of drunken despair, as opposed to anything pre-meditated. Whether or not it was directly related to his distress over Lennon's murder is questionable; regardless, Terry struggled with depression his whole life.

It's also worth noting that Terry was filling in for Frank Balesteri (aka Vanilla Bean) that night, another dearly departed (and boundary-pushing) WFMU air personality. Frank had set up the interview with the band, and then, perhaps absentmindedly (perhaps not), got Terry to fill in, leaving him to deal with the moronic rockers, who apparently were flinging themselves bodily against the door of the station before Terry finally let them in. To those of us who knew them, this incident was as much "classic Frank" as it was "classic Terry."

Ray Brazen

After hearing this idiocy I am moved to wonder whether surrendering the studio to these bozos was the only option Terry had at his disposal in order to avoid facing his second potential meeting with his maker in as many years; these guys sound borderline-psychotic and for all we know could well have threatened him with cement sneakers had he not relented. Only Terry himself knew for sure, no doubt, and if any of the members of Shallowcross (sic) are still out there, I wouldn't trust them to tell the truth about what really went down even with a lie detector strapped to them or a gun pressed to their heads.

Thanks, Irwin, for sharing this and for bringing up the good name and memory of Terry, and yes, William, you are very correct about the notion that he doesn't get half the recognition he deserves for his contributions to WFMU and to the lives of all he knew, including my own. He may have had his emotional baggage, but even through all his pain he succeeded in giving us so much joy, so much of it.

By the way, Black Sabbath WERE Satanic. You remember "After Forever," don't you? (tsk tsk)


Hi Irwin,

Just in case you do have it, can you please tell me where the recording of Terry's rant is ?


Rob Dwyer

My name is Rob Dwyer, I met TKF as a messenger at Aztec Document Systems
in New York. We spent alot of time together and he made alot of tapes of
stuff I had never heard, I was a hick from Maine I had no clue.
He didn't talk much about the Chelsea hotel thing, I think he was pretty
genuinely upset about John Lennons death, but their were some immense
issues involved beyond substance abuse, he was a pretty thoughtful person
if he trusted you enough to confide in you, new york was a place he loved
and hated on alot of different levels. We mostly talked about girls back then,
and music, and New York. We did alot of talking. When he told me he
had AIDS I don't think it registered at first, but as his illness got worse
it was apparent. I had to visit him at Saint Vincents a couple of times
and that was an experience I was familiar with myself. I remember him
telling me " I have to get away from these Nazis" he would call my answering
machine then and leave 20 messages. I thought it was a joke. It wasn't.
He was perched on the edge of a knife most of the time I knew him. But
I remember him being funny as hell walking around the village in that TKF stride
I used to call it.
Now it is 15 years later and I downloaded Coney Island Baby on my ipod
and I have been having massive flashbacks of those days in the village.
That was when it had some clubs and not Taco Bells on 4th street.
Roaming with Folger. I'll never forget him I miss him alot. He was underneath
all that superficial bullshit a hell of a nice guy.

Joe Basile

I am the aforementioned Terry Folger's best buddy Joe, referred to in Bill Berger's post above. I was thinking about him today and Googled his name for the hell of it, and I came upon this WFMU blog with entries from people I used to know through Terry like Irwin, Bill, Ray Brazen (nee Zinnbran) and Robbie Dwyer. It's nice to hear from you guys and also good to know that you still think about TKF too, all these years later.

Regarding his jump off the Chelsea Hotel, it happened on the afternoon or early evening of Wednesday, December 10th, 1980. I remember the date clearly because John Lennon had been assassinated on the night of Monday the 8th, and the talk at Bayonne High School the next day (where Terry and I were both in the 12th grade) was about nothing but Lennon. A bunch of us decided to play hooky from school on Wednesday the 10th and have a John Lennon party. Terry and I traveled together that morning to one guy's house, armed with a bunch of our favorite Beatles/Lennon albums (I remember he brought "Live Peace in Toronto"). We listened to Lennon's music for hours. Around lunchtime we were all pretty shitfaced, and in my drunken haze I lost track of Terry. When some others and I left the party to go back home and sleep it off, somebody found a suicide note posted on the front door. I knew immediately who left the note. I don't remember much about the note except that it said something to the effect that Lennon's death was the final straw for him. I do remember shrugging it off and thinking it was all a fiendish prank.

Terry was indeed an "eccentric misanthrope" and also a profoundly self-destructive person. But despite the evidence of my own eyes, I still never thought he would actually try to kill himself. While I do think that Lennon's death served as a trigger, it's pretty obvious to me in retrospect that he was suicidally depressed for a long while before that.

Anyway, he told me later that he chose the Chelsea because of Sid Vicious. Apparently he went to the top and jumped out a side or back window, but hit some kind of awning on a lower floor, which broke his fall just enough to save his life. Still, he was pretty banged up afterward: broken pelvis, broken collarbone, etc. He was laid up in St. Vincent's Hospital for the better part of a month recovering from his wounds.

Ray, do you still have the video you shot at Terry's memorial service back in May 1994? I presided over that incredibly moving and upbeat affair, which I remember fondly as one of the greatest days of my life, and I would kill to get a copy of the video you shot. (Not having a camcorder, I could only audiotape the proceedings that day.) Among many other highlights, I remember Ken Freedman's wonderful speech about the anarchic spirit that Terry brought to his radio work and how it was so emblematic of WFMU's "free form" ethos. Please contact me at [email protected] or by phone at (212) 560-2944 if you still have that tape. And if anyone else wants to contact me and share memories of Terry, I'd welcome that too.

Joe Basile

tom folger

I am one of terry's older brothers.I love hearing all the different stories about him and really miss him a lot. As Joe Basile said, I would also love to see any video of the memorial service that was held after his death. Terry had a whole different life that all of his family knew nothing about. I loved hearing his friends tell stories that day and if anyone has a copy ,i would appreciate it.Thanks.


I'm a friend of Terry's named Sari.
We used to go out together to see stuff sometimes. While most of our friends only wanted to see bands, Terry wasn't afraid to go out to see experimental theater,
weird performance art, improvised music, even dance.
He was somehow more well rounded than the rest of our rock centric friends, and I really liked his company.
I spent a lot of time at the hospital where his girlfriend Margaret worked really,really hard to make it less suck.
Even so, It was unbelievably awful.
Mercifully,Terry's mind checked out sooner than his body.
I hope this gets to her somehow because she was a real hero.

T.J.K. Haywood

There is a myspace for Van Gelder. Here is the link:
There are 8 songs up and two more on the way.
The Myspace is a tribute to him. He had a profound effect on my life. TFK had a relaxed way about him, but with an edge of witty cynicism. He had mystique. He embodied the spirit of old time WFMU in it’s heyday.
He was an eccentric and energetic musician and natural broadcaster and a very good friend .
Thanks Irwin for sharing this story.And Wm. And Sari and Joe for writing too.
Everyone feel free to write in the comment section on the Van Gelder Myspace.

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