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Luttrell had played guitar with a local Champaign band, Terry Cook and the Majestics in the early to mid-1960s. In 1968, Terry joined REO replacing Mike Blair on vocals, at the University of Illinois. He sang on the band's debut album, which was released in October 1971 on Epic Records. Personal differences between Luttrell and REO's lead guitarist, Gary Richrath, led to Luttrell leaving the band in 1972. He was replaced by Kevin Cronin before the recording of the second album, R.E.O./T.W.O..
Luttrell would go on to sing for the progressive band Starcastle, on the albums Starcastle, Fountains of Light, Citadel, and Reel to Real, before the band folded in the late 1970s. He became a born-again Christian. However, Luttrell has remained interested in rock and roll since his spiritual conversion, and he participated peripherally in some recent Starcastle reunion projects, and can be heard on a few tracks from their 2007 album Song of Times. He recently helped produce some songs on an album for a country band called South Of Georgia. He is currently working on some personal projects for himself and his daughter, Kristin Van Wynen. Kristin and her husband Dylan are the country music duo Dry Creek Station.
Luttrell has said he co-wrote the classic REO song "Golden Country" with Richrath before he left the band in 1972. Richrath is listed as the sole writer of the song, and vehemently denied that Luttrell was a co-writer. The subject matter of Golden Country is actually one of the main issues that led to Luttrell being let go from the band. Luttrell thought that Gary Richrath was writing songs that were too politically motivated, and wanted to focus on less controversial material. One night, the differences between Luttrell and REO Speedwagon came to a head. REO Speedwagon had a gig that was a significant drive from their home in Champaign, Illinois. During the performance, Terry became agitated and refused to continue singing. The band was forced to quit the set and cut the show short. This angered the club owner, and he refused to pay the band for performing. On the drive back, Richrath began an argument with Luttrell over costing the band the performance money. Richrath, and the rest of the band, were extremely upset because the money that they had would be spent on gas getting home, and they would be completely broke. Luttrell became upset and combative. Richrath ordered the car to be pulled over so he could fight Luttrell. When the car stopped, Luttrell fled into a corn field. Richrath suggested that they just drive away and leave Luttrell to find his own way home. Surprisingly, no one in the band disagreed, and they drove off leaving him in the field. No one within the band talked to him after that.
In a 2013 interview, Luttrell disputes the above account. According to Luttrell, "We had a pretty big discussion on the way home...It was one of those moments in time where I didn't want to sing Gary's love songs to his girlfriend. I was more into environmental change and things that were going on than what was going on in the band." He concluded, "Time has a way of moving you around, the Lord has a way of moving you around in certain circumstances, and it was very beneficial to move on after that." After a period of inactivity during which he became a FedEx driver, Luttrell ultimately returned to music as the lead vocalist for Champaign, Illinois-based band "Tons O' Fun."
- REO Speedwagon (1971)
- Starcastle (1976)
- Fountains of Light (1977)
- Citadel (1978)
- Real to Reel (1979)
- Burke, David (September 10, 2013). "Former REO singer has Tons O'Fun". Go&Do.