To be Terry David Mulligan is to deal, on occasion, with a public confrontation.
For more than four decades, he has been the voice and the face of West Coast celebrity journalism, from spinning platters as a disc jockey on a fledgling FM radio station to posing questions as an interviewer on the movie-junket circuit.
He is a prolific character actor who also established a career as a television pitchman in commercials for Molson Golden in Canada and The Gap in the United States.
He has been as familiar as Siwash Rock and the Nine O’Clock Gun, an integral part of the landscape of living in Vancouver.
You’ve got the triple-barrelled name, the tireless work ethic, the ubiquitous presence, the brush with the famous, the emotions engendered by rock music. It makes him a target for some.
“When you stick your hand out, or they stick their hand out, you have to be prepared for almost anything,” he said. “It’s every day. You have to shave and shower and be reasonable. You can’t be seen to be a bully, or impolite. You have to be on your game.”
Sometimes, a stranger will note how they appreciated his work. Other times, the reception is less polite.
“There’s no guarantee someone’s not going to come up to you to say, ‘You’re a dolt. You’re just a dork.’ I look at them and say, ‘Have you waited 20, 25 years just to tell me that?!’ ”
Mr. Mulligan was on the receiving end of friendlier barbs at a comedy roast last Friday to raise money for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. (This “Mr.” thing is a little too Globe and not enough rock ’n’ roll. Let’s go with the initials TDM, pronounced “tedium,” as that’s what people call him.) The comedy duo Double Exposure zinged TDM by noting he shared his affinity for three names with the likes of Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, Mark David Chapman, Kim Jong-il and Osama bin Laden. Another comic noted TDM was a notorious oenophile and wondered whether his predilection meant he had to register with the local police.
TDM had rushed back to Vancouver for the roast after being stateside to film an episode of Hollywood and Vines, a television series seen in 180 countries in which he tours vineyards with his wine-swilling friend Jason Priestley.
He also hosts an hour-long radio show called Tasting Room Radio (heard in Vancouver on Team 1410, which had once been CFUN, where he worked as a DJ in the 1960s), as well as a weekly two-hour rock show, Mulligan Stew, aired by CKUA in Edmonton.
So, TDM is as busy as ever. Years ago, he was fired from a radio station after defying orders and playing Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe. He pledged then never to depend on a single paycheque. Throughout his career, he has juggled acting roles, commercial gigs and work as a host for MuchWest or on such shows as Good Rockin’ Tonite.
TDM turns 70 later this year, a birthday before which he recently completed a memoir about how a boy from New Westminster became a Royal Canadian Mounted Police constable in Olds, Alta. After a few years cracking skulls, he tuned in to rock radio, turned on to LSD and marijuana, and dropped out of the force. (Not in that order.) His past as a Mountie made him a suspicious character in the Vancouver scene, as police harassed hippies, and drug busts resulted in severe prison terms.
“The Man was everywhere,” he writes in the memoir, “and some people thought I was him.”
The memoir, Mulligan’s Stew: My Life ... So Far, written with Province entertainment writer Glen Schaefer and published by Heritage, is a rollicking tale, a candid recounting of a life during which he shared a house with Joni Mitchell, slugged shots of bourbon with Janis Joplin, shopped on Davie Street with a stoned Jim Morrison, and interviewed Jimi Hendrix for CBC television, which can now be seen on YouTube.
He’s had so many experiences he’d forgotten the time Joe Strummer came by the house to play traditional Christmas songs.
It has not always been fun being a middle-aged dude in the music scene. TDM remembers questioning the band Tool when one of the members interrupted to note the interrogation was like being interviewed by his dad. The comment stung.
TDM recently travelled to Arizona to do a Hollywood and Vines segment with Maynard James Keenan, owner of Caduceus Cellars, a winery in Arizona’s Verde Valley in what TDM calls “Apache territory.” Mr. Keenan, the 47-year-old vintner, happens to be the former lead vocalist of Tool.
Special to The Globe and Mail