As a fan of country music, I’ve seen several country artists live. To me that’s where the music really shines. The raw energy that comes from the music and the performance of that live show. Someone that was a stand out was the guitarist for Jon Pardi by the name of Terry Lee Palmer. I thought he was a great performer and knew how to wail on his six string. He had a noticeable Southern Rock edge that was distinct in his guitar tone and simply in the way he plays. I became more of a fan of Terry Lee’s when he released his debut EP ‘American Buzz’ in 2018. I did a review of his EP that proved that not only was he a great musician but also an incredible song writer.

I sat down with Terry Lee Palmer during a stop on the Jon Pardi tour to ask a few questions about his upbringing and what made him want to be a guitarist.



Where did you grow up and who turned you onto music?

I actually grew up in a town, not even a town a place called Cunningham Tennessee. It’s just outside of Clarksville, TN. It’s only about 45 minutes from Nashville. As a kid I never went to Nashville. We lived way, way out in the country. My Dad would commute back and forth to Nashville everyday. I was born in Houston, Texas and all my family is from Houston. I lived there until I was seven or eight years old and then my family moved me out to Cunningham. It was a shocker because growing up in a big city then literally moved to the middle of nowhere. It’s where I spent most of my youth. It’s where I went to high school. We had eighty acres, my grandparents lived in a big farm house out there. My grandfather had cows, chickens, and orchard, garden. We had a quarter mile gravel driveway, we had to go through a creek to get to the house. When it flooded you couldn’t go anywhere. If you didn’t get home before it really started raining, you’re not getting across. You had to walk across a rickety old bridge. If you’re picturing something in your head that’s probably what it was. Like for real. I’d get home from school and my Dad would be like get on the old John Deere tripod tractor and go bush hog that ten acres over there and I’d have to do it. It sucked, I hated it. I want to play Mike Tyson Punch Out! Definitely not the scenery you’d think some guy idolizing Mick Mars and George Lynch and all those guys, definitely not that scene.


What was your introduction into music?

Growing up my first foray into music was my parents. My Dad had records like Boston or Toto, or stuff like that. More rock stuff and then we had stuff like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr. and Alabama. My mom loved James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, so I had everything at my disposal. All genres of music and I listened to everything.


Even though you’re known as a country artist, you have a very rocking edge to your style. How did that come about?

The funny thing about being on the road with a country artist now is when I was a kid, I was all about rock and roll. I loved Motley Crue, Ratt, Dokken, and all those bands from the 80’s. If you’d have asked me “hey let’s see what you think about this country artist”, I would be like “Hell No! I’m not going to listen to that country artist. Screw that!” But now it’s come full circle. I live in Nashville, and I play country. When you first saw me I was in the Black Label Society shirt and I fucking love Zakk Wylde. He’s my favorite guitar player. I love this stuff and just because I play in a country band doesn’t mean I’m not going to represent that. I’ve seen him a couple times.


Do you still attend concerts on during your down time?


We have some friends from Texas that are in Nashville right now and they came in for the Kid Rock show. He does a thing called ‘Fish Fry’ in an amphitheater in town and I was like “please this year don’t let me be playing” I want to see Kid Rock so bad. He’s one of my favorite artist and of course we leave the day before. I’m sure I’ll get my opportunity.



Who did you listen to that made you want to be a guitarist?

Some of the earliest stuff I was listening to when I was very first learning to play was Bon Jovi and Ratt. I always loved ZZ Top but I remember very distinctly right around the time my Dad bought me an electric guitar; I asked my uncle to get me two cd tapes for Christmas that year and it was Poison ‘Look What The Cat Dragged In’ and Ozzy Osbourne ‘Randy Rhoads Tribute’. I remember ballin’ my eyes out because my Dad got so pissed at me because my Mom was very, very strict on that stuff. She thought Ozzy Osbourne was a Satan worshipper so she got on my Dad about me asking my uncle and my Dad reamed me out but I got ‘em. The first time I ever heard Randy Rhoads on the tribute album I was blown away. That was it, that record more than anything made me want to really pursue playing the guitar and learning how to do it. That would be the one. That album in particular to me as a guitar player really stands out because a lot of Randy’s stuff in the studio was good but it wasn’t as out there like that live record. Sometimes that happens in the studio things are a little more stale but when you get out there live and are doing it, it takes on a whole new life. I love all of Randy’s work. I still think he was a great guitar player for everything he did but being that first thing you hear as a budding guitar player, that live, that raw Bad Ass-ery, it stuck with me. It really did.



Were there any other guitarists you admired growing up?

Mick Mars was never one of those guys like a George Lynch or Yngwie who was super technically proficient but I just always loved his playing. He just played with balls. Motley Crue was the biggest group in the 80’s man. They were the biggest hair band in the 80’s no question. Ok Bon Jovi, but they weren’t hardcore like Motley Crue. And he’s the one that gets the least amount of credit. Kickstart My Heart, that was Mick Mars. He came up with that lick. Probably all the licks. I love him man. I’m a big Ace Frehley fan too. He’s another one of those guys but he was a little more in the spotlight then somebody like Mick because he was the Spaceman. Nice real flashy but played with balls.


You’re known for being a country artist but you have a lot of rock in your soul. What made you stay with country music?

I love country music too. There’s good in all music, there really is. Being from Nashville, I obviously get exposed to a lot more country on a regular basis then people might that live in LA unless you’re a fan. Honestly it’s just the artists that stick with you like anything else. In the rock genre guys like Motley Crue and Ozzy Osbourne, those are some of my favorites that were the 80’s rockers.  Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson that are some of my favorites in country. I think people who aren’t very familiar with country music, you can play them something like that and you really can’t deny it’s good music. I think if they’re really a music fan it would be hard for them to say I don’t like this. It’s just good music and that transcends genres to me. That’s why I come back to country because I know that there were artists that made that kind of music and I want to incorporate that into my music and give it that country flair. I still want it to be rock too. Whatever I do is always going to be edgy. It’s always going to be guitar driven. I like to call it Southern Rock because that’s what Southern Rock was. You had country boys who were playing rock and roll so they were influenced by country music but they like rock and roll too so they gave it that edge.


You’ve been with Jon Pardi for several years now. How did you originally get the gig?

Me and Lee (Francis) the bass player we had a band, we toured around and we’d do a lot of stuff in the south east. We were like a cover rock band and we’d do a lot of college towns, frat parties, and on the side we’d go play for other artists. If somebody was new to town and needed a band, it would be like send us your songs and we’ll come play your shows. We were doing that for a while and Lee met Jon. Jon’s girlfriend was actually a “singer”. Jon was playing guitar in her band and Lee met Jon and lee was like “I like what this guys doing” so Jon sent him some songs and he wanted to do some showcases. Lee’s like “listen to this guy, listen to his music. He’s got some pretty good stuff, let’s do some shows with him”. He sent me Jon’s music and I was like “this guy’s got his own thing”, he’s got his own style of singing , his songs are good so we started doing showcases with him. Then he got a record deal and the rest is history. We already had a band because Lee and I were already playing together and the drummer at the time was also my drummer. So it was like we’ll be your band. We transitioned from what we were doing to playing with Jon. That’s kind of how it happened.



So how long has it been now?

Eight years probably going on nine years. Me and Lee are the original guys. We’re the only two left from that time. That doesn’t really happen in Nashville. People are always looking for that more money or a better deal with a bigger artist. We both had opportunities to go when Jon was coming up and still getting his notoriety. We both had offers from other country artists, I’m not going to say who but other guys that were doing better than Jon at the time. We could have made more money or whatever, but it really wasn’t worth it to jump ship for the music because Jon’s music was better. It was like do we want to stick it out here and make less money at the moment and eventually make more money and still get to play cool music or make more money now and play really shitty music and be with somebody we probably won’t want to hang out with. Both of us were like stick it out a little bit longer somethings going to happen with this guy because he’s talented and now of course it is. He’s getting the attention he deserves. I made the right choice.


Congratulations on releasing your own debut ep ‘American Buzz’. How does it feel to be the main vocalist and guitar player?

It feels good. I’ve always felt comfortable in that position. I’ve always been an entertainer in my own right. I wish I could go out and do some shows where I’m playing my music but our schedule is so damn busy I don’t see I could make happen this year. I think when it does it will be a lot of fun because of I enjoy being that person. I like entertaining people. That’s what I do onstage with Jon every night anyway. The only difference is he’s the guy singing and I’m the guy singing background vocals. That would be the only flip on the situation. I’m looking forward to a time when I will be able to get out and do some shows on my own and play my own songs live. It would be fun. I’m completely comfortable playing that role and entertaining people, singing and messin’ with folks. That’s a good thing about playing with Jon, he encourages people to embrace who they are onstage. Jon’s like run around, be a performer, they came to see a show, and you’re part of the show.


What made you decide it was time to put out a solo ep?

Going back to the ‘Wiskey Riff’ guys, they put out an article last summer “The Ten Hottest Band Members” in country music and I was on the list. I never really thought of myself that way but I made the list. It would be stupid of me not to try and capitalize off of this. I should try and do something with this. I started a publishing company a few years back and I’d been doing demos and I have enough songs where I could put out a few songs. So that’s what I did. I went into the studio in December of last year and put it out there to see what would happen. So obviously there are people out there paying attention to me. Being with Jon and being onstage with him and him encouraging this I’d try and put something out. The biggest thing about it and I tell people this all the time I have no intention of leaving Jon and I’m on the road with all my friends, all my brothers so it’s a lot of fun. The biggest thing for me putting this out is has more to do with publishing and songwriting then trying to be a big country artist because I see myself in the future over the next years transitioning into doing more songwriting and publishing and make that the second part of my career.


You also had the opportunity to play some stadium gigs this year with Jon. What was that like?

I’m not going to say that playing Dodgers Stadium this year wasn’t fucking awesome because it was. It was amazing. That, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, was just like Wow…Amazing! When I get out there and see that many people, I get charged up. That’s fun as shit, it’s great. That’s a totally different kind of energy, it really is. But on the other hand when you got the small club a couple hundred people drinking draft beer and throwing down, that’s special too. Throw a couple cover songs, throw in some AC/DC, some ZZ Top and have fun with it.


With the reception received from ‘American Buzz”, are you considering a full length album in the future?

Absolutely. I’d like to get back into the studio and do ten to twelve songs. If I do that, maybe this time next year we’ll have a little more time off and I could put together a five or ten date tour and go visit some places and play some gigs.


Terry Lee & I 


To finish up our interview we’d like to play a round of ‘fill in the blanks’. Are you ready?

I have to watch what I say on this. It could be very revealing.

I would never… lie and pretend to say that I like shitty music that I know I don’t like.


I’m trying to quit… I’m really not trying to quit anything. Certainly not drinking, I like doing that too much. I’m trying to quit eating so badly.


I never hit the stage without… my bourbon.


I always make sure I… text or call Chelsea before I black out drunk. I’m more likely to drink five bourbons after the show and forget to call her so I always make sure to do that.


My biggest fear is… I really don’t like heights a lot which really sucks because we fly so much.


I never go any place without my… my cellphone.


I think everyone should try… cocaine. I’m kidding!


My tattoos are… pretty bad ass.


My first concert was… Bon Jovi.


My favorite city is… I love Chicago.


My favorite concert venue is… Red Rocks (Amphitheatre in Morrison, Co) was pretty bad ass. We played there a few times but I think my favorite is a place called The Gorge (Amphitheatre) in George, Washington. We played that festival a couple times and it’s really beautiful out there.


My biggest joy comes from… Chelsea’s number one and I love music. It doesn’t matter what it is. Hearing great music or a great song is truly inspiring. There’s nothing else like it and I love it when it surprises you. When you listen to something and you get a whole new perspective on things. I think music to me and the only thing that truly do that. I guess joy would be a good way to describe it.


And everyone should have… fun. You only die once so have fun, enjoy it!



To read Mayhem Music Magazine’s review of Terry Lee Palmer’s ‘American Buzz’ click HERE


To find out more about Terry Lee, visit him on:





To purchase the ‘American Buzz’ EP, click HERE



About The Author

From my deep roots in country music to my love of the rock genre. I seek those artists who base their lyrics in the real world and who are looking for more than just the party. I bring to the table a fresh look at what's happening in music today and I hope you take this journey with me.

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