From the Clash to a chiropractor ... Top complementary therapist tells why he changed his tune
Last updated at 23:37 10 May 2008
I may have played drums with The Clash, Billy Idol and Black Sabbath, but I was never exactly your archetypal rock star.
Granted, I loved all the music and the partying, but I was vegetarian, didn't smoke or take drugs and I stopped drinking altogether when I was 26.
Despite the temptations going on around me, I was far more interested in keeping healthy.
So it came as little surprise to my bandmates when, in 1989, I told them I was quitting the music industry to become a chiropractor.
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Chiropractic calling: Terry with The Clash in 1982
Some people think my interest in chiropractic - a complementary therapy that treats disorders of the musculo-skeletal system and the effects of those disorders on the body - came from having back pain myself.
Most drummers tend to develop it from years of being hunched over a drum kit.
I've never suffered from back problems - not because I sat up straight on the stool but more likely because, although I loved performing live and recording, I hated rehearsing because I found it so monotonous.
Far from spending hours perfecting my technique, I would do a quick 30 minutes if I really had to, and then disappear.
As a teenager, I used to think rock bands were the highest form of life and taught myself to play the drums. I thought being in a band would be useful for getting the girls.
I considered going to medical school when I was 17 and even went for an interview at the London Hospital in Whitechapel.
But I found all those men in suits rather off-putting - it felt more like an interview for the Army.
So, seeing as I came from a musical family (my father was a semi-professional saxophonist and my brother John is chief timpanist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra) I decided that joining a rock band was a far better idea.
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A new beat: Terry treats one of his patients
I must have auditioned with just about every band in London until being taken on by The Clash in 1976.
The singer Joe Strummer had just arrived, too, and we were all very concerned about the impact we aimed to have on the world.
This, of course, led to plenty of heated arguments about how we had to look, our music and politics.
I was soon fed up with all the rows and left a year later to play with Billy Idol - but I did go back to The Clash for another year when we toured America supporting The Who.
Then, in 1985, something happened that not only changed my career direction but also my values.
I was due to play a gig with Black Sabbath (Ozzy Osbourne was not with them then) and we had decided to go bowling during the day as a way of relaxing before the show.
It was the first time I'd ever tried it and we played for three hours non-stop.
Not used to swinging my arm around as you have to when you bowl, I clearly overdid it and was in agony not long before we were due to go on stage. I could hardly move my arm without almost screaming in pain.
I thought there would be no way I'd be able to play the drums - bad luck as I had never appeared with Black Sabbath.
To my amazement, I discovered the band had a chiropractor on tap in case they needed treatment, or simply to loosen them up before they went on stage.
Using his hands, he gently manipulated the joints and bones in my back and neck that affected the nerve supply to the shoulder.
It was not painful, but made a popping noise, like having your knuckles cracked. I was pain-free afterwards.
The seed of an idea was planted, which germinated over the next few years until I decided to leave the music business to train at the Bournemouth Anglo-European College of Chiropractic.
I wanted to help other people in the same way that the Black Sabbath therapist had helped me.
It was a four-year course and during that time I also went to London every weekend to train as an acupuncturist. I even spent six weeks working in a hospital in China to give me the feel for it.
Chiropractic is about 100 years old and comes from America. Now 2,300 practitioners are registered in the UK.
We use manipulation and massage to correct misalignments of vertebrae and other bones that cause neck and back pain, which has reached epidemic proportions in Britain, affecting 80 per cent of adults.
Ten per cent of those with back pain visit a complementary practitioner - about 130,000 each day.
In 1990, a study by the Medical Research Council showed that chiropractic had better results for lower-back pain than hospital outpatient treatment.
Thousands of people believe it benefits a variety of conditions, particularly colic in babies. There are also those who believe chiropractic is quackery - or worse, a danger.
A report last year claimed there was "little evidence" that spinal manipulation worked and could provoke a stroke - when a blood clot is disturbed and travels to the brain - and had caused death, when a spinal artery had been severed.
But all medical procedures carry risk, and painkillers kill thousands of people a year. I've never had any complaints.
Everyone may not be completely delighted with their treatment, but we have 35,000 patients, so I doubt the practice would have grown that much if we left people with problems.
In 1993, I opened my own practice in Essex - where I am today - and two clinics in London.
I sold those three years ago to concentrate on new ventures. I don't regret giving up music but I was lucky enough to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
When I'm in the US, I get in touch with Billy Idol. I co-own a music studio but don't go there much as I'm so busy. Occasionally I wake up and go over to make some music.
My career now is the most important thing. I'm using my influence to help people stay healthy.
Being in the rock business taught me plenty about life - good and bad. It showed up the effects of one lifestyle against another - those who took drugs and died young against those who took a different path.
• This week, Terry Chimes launches an online version of his chiropractic consultancy course, www.chiropracticheaven.com. Visit www.terrychimes.com for details of his clinics.
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