Sananda Maitreya (formerly Terence Trent D'Arby)

Sananda Maitreya (formerly Terence Trent D'Arby)

    Terence Trent D'Arby was one of the most talented and enigmatic singers of the 80s. His meteoric rise to the top via his fabulous debut album was matched by his equally swift fall from popular acclaim, as his less accessible experimental work and difficult personality combined to make him a fringe artist for the two decades after his debut.

    Born in 1962 as Terence Trent Howard in New York, he joined the army and was stationed in Europe in the early 80s. He was signed by Columbia records when he was only 23 and recorded what would be one of the biggest records of 1987, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby. It was a masterpiece, combining elements of influences from Sam Cooke to Michael Jackson to Prince, brilliantly written and absolutely infectious. The album spawned the hits "If You Let Me Stay" and "Sign Your Name," and went on to sell over ten million copies.

    The success of Hardline made D'Arby fodder for tabloids, and he didn't help matters by boasting excessively of his talent and comparing himself to many of the greatest artists of all time. It all came to roost when he released his ambitious follow-up album, Neither Fish Nor Flesh. It was lambasted by critics and sold a fraction of its predecessor. By the time of his 1993 Symphony or Damn, most of his fans had left the building, though the disc received significantly more critical praise than Neither Fish.

    D'Arby recorded one more album for Columbia before moving to Europe to begin his career again. In 2001, he changed his name to Sananda Maitreya and began recording independently, selling his interesting, high quality music principally through his website. In 2015, after a long absence from the mass market, he released the critically acclaimed album, The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords.

    By Chris Rizik