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Dene was discovered by record producer Jack Good at the 2i's Coffee Bar, the London club that helped launch Tommy Steele, Adam Faith and Cliff Richard. Good helped him obtain a recording contract with Decca. At the time he was one of the most promising rock and rollers of pre-Beatles Britain. Despite a regular spot on BBC Television's first pop show, Six-Five Special, and having his debut single "A White Sport Coat" make #18 on the UK Singles Chart in 1957, and then having another pair of Top 20 singles his knack for self destruction left his career in tatters.

Dene was arrested for public drunkenness and vandalism in 1958, and was used as an example of the 'evil of rock and roll' by the press. In 1958 he was conscripted into the Army for National service. He was discharged on psychological grounds after just two months, and, villified by the press, he found his career in ruins. He joined the Larry Parnes' stable of stars and appeared in a film, The Golden Disc, but faded from the music industry.

In the 1970s Dene turned to religion and became a street-singing evangelist, recording three albums of gospel music. He spent the early 1970s in Sweden.

Dene has attempted several comebacks. In 1974, he released a book and album, I Thought Terry Dene Was Dead, and began to perform with a rock band, the Dene Aces. He released an album, The Real Terry Dene, in 1997 .Despite the adverse publicity of his early career, the artist eventually became accepted by fans as one of Britain's most significant rock and roll pioneers. He has thus managed to carve out a career at nostalgia and revivalist concerts that would last him for many years

He was married in 1958 to, and subsequently divorced from, fellow pop singer, Edna Savage, who died in 2000 at the age of 64.

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