News your connection to The Boston Globe

Terry Melcher; helped create surf music sound

LOS ANGELES -- Terry Melcher, a producer, composer, and songwriter who worked with the Beach Boys and helped shape the 1960s California surf music sound, died Friday in his Beverly Hills home. He was 62.

Mr. Melcher, son of actress-singer Doris Day, also produced several hits for the Byrds, including ''Mr. Tambourine Man" and ''Turn, Turn, Turn." He died of cancer, publicist Linda Dozoretz said.

A transforming part of the California surf, rock, and folk music scene in the 1960s, the multifaceted musician sang background, played piano, wrote lyrics, composed music, and produced records and shows, including the Monterey Pop Festival.

During his famous mother's filmmaking heyday, he often composed songs for her projects, including the title ballad ''Move Over, Darling" for her 1963 movie with James Garner. He also was an executive producer of her CBS television series, ''The Doris Day Show" from 1968 to 1972 and engineered her return to television in the mid-1980s with the show ''Doris Day's Best Friends."

In the early 1960s, Mr. Melcher formed Bruce & Terry with Bruce Johnston, who later joined the Beach Boys, and had hits with ''Custom Machine" and ''Summer Means Fun."

The duo also formed The Rip Chords and recorded such successes as the top 10 ''Hey, Little Cobra," which they released in an album, along with the album ''Other Hot Rod Hits." Subsequently, Mr. Melcher issued two less-successful solo albums, ''Terry Melcher" and ''Royal Flush." He also performed backup on albums of his friends the Beach Boys, including their landmark album ''Pet Sounds."

In the mid-1960s, Mr. Melcher became a staff producer for Columbia Records and hit his stride when he was assigned to work with a new band called the Byrds. He helped craft their fusion of rock and folk into a new and immensely popular sound and produced their definitive versions of Bob Dylan's ''Mr. Tambourine Man" and Pete Seeger's ''Turn, Turn, Turn," as well as later albums, including ''Ballad of Easy Rider."

The young producer also turned the rag-tag garage band Paul Revere and the Raiders into a mainstream pop group. He wrote such hits for them as ''Him or Me -- What's It Gonna Be?" and ''The Great Airplane Strike."

Other well-known artists relying on the Melcher touch included the Mamas and the Papas, Bobby Darin, and Glen Campbell.

Mr. Melcher gained an unwanted place in Hollywood history for refusing to help another well-known person -- convicted murderer Charles Manson. Mr. Melcher and his then-girlfriend Candace Bergen had once rented the secluded Benedict Canyon house where Sharon Tate and others were slain in 1969.

After Manson and his acolytes were arrested for the slaughter, rumors abounded that Manson's intention was to kill Mr. Melcher for refusing to produce his songs. Investigators, after determining that Manson knew at the time of the murders that Mr. Melcher had moved to Malibu, eventually discounted the purported motivation.

As Day's only child, Mr. Melcher benefited from the halo of her enormous success in forging his own career; he initially even billed himself as Terry Day. But he also remained extremely close to Day throughout his life, seeing her through marital and financial strife and, in recent years, devoting himself to managing her projects, including her nonprofit organizations that promoted rights for animals.

Day was in Carmel yesterday and unavailable for comment.

''She and Terry were extremely close and close in age because she was 17 when she had him," Dozoretz said. ''They were amazing together. There wasn't a day that went by when Terry wasn't involved with one of his mother's projects."

Born in New York City to Day and her first husband, trombonist Al Jorden, Mr. Melcher was adopted 10 years later by her third husband, Martin Melcher.

In addition to his mother, he leaves his wife, Terese, and a son from a previous marriage, Ryan.

Material from Reuters was used in this obituary

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives