Terry Melcher

Co-writer of 'Move Over Darling'
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The Independent Online

Terry Melcher was the son of the actress Doris Day but, even though he co-wrote the easy listening perennial "Move Over Darling" for his mother and later managed her affairs, his forte was as a mover and shaker in the West Coast music industry.

Terry Melcher, producer, singer, instrumentalist, songwriter and publisher: born New York 8 February 1942; twice married (one son); died Los Angeles 19 November 2004.

Terry Melcher was the son of the actress Doris Day but, even though he co-wrote the easy listening perennial "Move Over Darling" for his mother and later managed her affairs, his forte was as a mover and shaker in the West Coast music industry.

Starting out in the early Sixties as a producer, singer and songwriter with the duo Bruce and Terry - in which he partnered the future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston on the sunny surf hit "Summer Means Fun" - Melcher also recorded as the Rip Chords and worked with the crooners Pat Boone and Frankie Laine, as well as the Sixties beat group Paul Revere and the Raiders.

In 1964 Melcher produced the Byrds on a version of Bob Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man" which defined the folk-rock genre and topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. His association with the group proved short-lived but still spawned further jingle-jangle classics in 1965 - "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better", "All I Really Want To Do", "The Bells of Rhymney" and "Turn, Turn, Turn (to Everything There is a Season)".

The group called on Melcher again in 1969 to work on the Ballad of Easy Rider soundtrack and the subsequent two Byrds albums, including their last hit single "Chestnut Mare". Melcher found success again in 1987 when he co-wrote and produced the Beach Boys' hit single "Kokomo" which was featured in the Tom Cruise film Cocktail and topped the US charts.

Doris Day was only 18 when she gave birth to Terry, her only son, in New York City in 1942. The child's father was her first husband, the trombone player Al Jorden, but the couple separated when Day resumed her singing career and moved to Hollywood. She subsequently remarried three times and Terry was legally adopted by her third husband, the agent and producer Marty Melcher.

A keen singer, the young Terry hung around film sets and recording studios with his mother and adoptive father and eventually cut a record with Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios in 1961. He was billed as Terry Day and the subject of a campaign claiming that he was "carrying on in a great tradition". "I was terrible, actually," he said. "I left Columbia for a year and a half and came back as an office boy."

Melcher secured an internship in Columbia's producer-trainee programme in New York. On his return to California, he was set to work on "Don't Make My Baby Blue" which put Frankie Laine back into the US Top Fifty for the first time since 1957.

In 1962, Melcher decided to capitalise on the surf craze and produced Surfin' Round The World, the début album by his friend Bruce Johnston. The next year, they became the Hot Doggers and covered Beach Boys songs and Dick Dale instrumentals on an album entitled Surfin' USA. However, the duo were more successful as the Rip Chords, most famously cutting "Hey Little Cobra" which made the US Top Five in January 1964.

Johnston and Melcher finally emerged as Bruce and Terry on a cover of "Custom Machine", originally by the Beach Boys, and their own hit, "Summer Means Fun", which they described as "half-assed surf music". However, after appearing in concert with the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean in Honolulu in the summer of 1964, Melcher realised how uncomfortable he felt on stage and decided to concentrate on working behind the scenes.

Originally called the Jet Set, then the Beefeaters (aping the Beatles), the Byrds had finally found their style when they combined the Fab Four sound with a cover of Bob Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man" while cutting demos in the autumn of 1964. Melcher was impressed when he heard the track but, once he set to work with the group, he decided to call in session musicians to re-record the song and back up the vocal harmonies.

The recording process Melcher used undoubtedly made the Byrds' folk-rock sound smoother and more palatable to a mainstream audience, but the band insisted on playing on the albums Mr Tambourine Man (1965) and Turn! Turn! Turn! (1966) and then parted company with the producer. Melcher concentrated on working with Paul Revere and the Raiders, the garage band from Seattle. They never scored a British hit but were US chart regulars.

In 1966, Melcher signed the Rising Sons and helped organise the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967. In 1968, he turned down the aspiring songwriter Charles Manson. When five people, including the actress Sharon Tate, were murdered by Manson's cronies in August 1969, rumours abounded that Melcher had been the real target of the attack, since he and his girlfriend Candice Bergen had previously rented the mock château at 10050 Cielo Drive where the killings took place.

After renewing his association with the Byrds on The Ballad of Easy Rider (1969), the excellent live-studio double (Untitled) (1970) and the uneven Byrdmaniax (1971), Melcher recorded two solo albums, Terry Melcher (1974) and Royal Flush (1976), but spent most of the Seventies and early Eighties dabbling in real estate.

Melcher came back to writing and producing at the behest of his old friends Bruce Johnston and Mike Love from the Beach Boys. In 1985 he co-wrote "Getcha Back" and the following year produced the group on a cover of "California Dreamin'". In 1987, Melcher, Love, John Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas) and Scott McKenzie (singer of "San Francisco") teamed up to compose "Kokomo", which became a US No 1.

In the Eighties, Melcher produced his mother's come-back TV series Doris Day's Best Friends and helped her run the Doris Day Animal League and the Doris Day Animal Foundation.

Pierre Perrone