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Lest We Forget

Posted on November 19, 2004

Terry Melcher

60s Singer, Songwriter, Producer


Terry Melcher, 60s era singer, songwriter, composer and producer passed away Friday, November 19, 2004 after a long battle with the cancer known as melanoma. He was 62 years young.

Melcher was the son of actress-singer Doris Day and started his career under the name “Terry Day”. (He was adopted by Doris’ third husband, Martin Melcher, thus the his “new” last name.) However he really broke onto the scene in the early 1960s when he teamed with future “Beach Boy” Bruce Johnston. The two of them formed the “Rip Chords” and scored big with hits like “Hey Little Cobra” and “Three Window Coupe.” They continued to record as “Bruce and Terry” and hit with the seasonal favorite “Summer Means Fun”.

During the early 1960s he also teamed up to write with, among others, Bobby Darin. (Yes, Bobby Darin of “Mack the Knife” fame.) Everyone from the Beach Boys to Pat Boone has recorded songs written by Melcher.

By the mid-sixties, Terry moved behind the scenes to begin producing for groups like the Byrds (“Turn, Turn, Turn” and “Mr. Tamborine Man”) and Paul Revere and the Raiders (“Just Like Me”, “Kicks”, and “Hungry”) among others.

In 1969, Terry sublet a home to actress Sharon Tate. It was there that the infamous Manson murders took place. Rumors began that Manson was getting back at Melcher since he had turned Manson down for a contract with Columbia Records. Police discounted that theory.

In 1988, Melcher co-wrote the hit “Kokomo” with Beach Boys’ front man Mike Love. The song, used in the movie “Cocktail,” was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1988 for best original song. “Kokomo” would go number one, setting a record for the longest number of years between #1 songs for a group (1966 – 1988).

Melcher is survived by his mother, his wife, Terese, and one son, Ryan.

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