WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-01 > 1169590407
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [W-OBITS] MELCHER: Terrence P Mercer nov/2004
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2007 22:13:27 -0000
Last Updated: 1:11am GMT 23/11/2004
Terry Melcher, who died on Friday aged 62, was a singer, songwriter and
highly sought-after record producer for the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and many
He was also the only child (and later agent) of Doris Day, for whom he
co-wrote the ballad Move Over Darling, and was briefly convinced that he had
been Charles Manson's intended murder victim at 10050 Cielo Drive, Los
Angeles, in 1969.
Terrence P Melcher was born in New York City on February 8 1942, when Doris
Day was 18 and married to her first husband Al Jorden, a trombone player who
became a jealous wife-beater. Terry's parents soon separated, whereupon
Doris Day resumed her singing career and jumped into a second marriage to
George Weidler, one of the Blue Devils with whom she had toured North
America aged 16 (they were known as The Milkshake Band on account of their
"no booze or dope" policy).
The couple moved with young Terry to a trailer in California, until they too
came unstuck. Doris Day was by then under contract to Warner Bros, for whom
she made 17 films between 1948 and 1955. In 1951 she married her agent and
producer, Marty Melcher, who adopted Terry.
The boy grew up hanging around film sets and recording studios with his
mother and stepfather, and his first ambition was to become a singer. In the
early 1960s he recorded a few singles, billed as "Terry Day - carrying on in
a great tradition". But sensing that he might be happier behind the scenes,
he became a trainee record producer at Columbia in 1962.
The next year he composed Move Over Darling, the title song for the film
remake of My Favorite Wife, in which Doris Day starred with James Garner and
Polly Bergen. He also formed Bruce and Terry with Bruce Johnston, later of
the Beach Boys, and had hits with Custom Machine and Summer Means Fun. They
later performed together as the Rip Chords, and had success with the surf
singles Hey, Little Cobra and Here I Stand, and with the album Other Hot Rod
Hits. But after appearing in concert with the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean in
Honolulu in 1964, Melcher realised how uncomfortable he felt on stage; and
although he continued to perform as backup on their albums, including Pet
Sounds (1966), he decided to focus on his work as a producer at Columbia.
In this capacity, Melcher worked with Wayne Newton, Pat Boone and Frankie
Laine, as well as with Paul Revere and the Raiders and The Rising Sons, a
group combining the talents of the then session guitarist Ry Cooder and the
blues singer Taj Mahal.
Most successfully he was assigned to work with a new band, the Byrds, whose
jingle-jangle fusion of rock and folk he helped craft into a new and
immensely popular sound; he produced all of their early recordings,
including the Bob Dylan cover Mr Tambourine Man (1965), which went to No 1
on both sides of the Atlantic, I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better, All I Really
Want to Do, The Bells of Rhymney and Turn, Turn, Turn.
>From 1968 to 1972, Melcher produced The Doris Day Show on television, and he
was involved in a number of other enterprises, including the Monterey Pop
Festival, which he helped organise in 1967. By then he was living with his
girlfriend, the actress Candice Bergen, in a mock chateau at 10050 Cielo
Through Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, Melcher was introduced in 1968 to
the cult leader Charles Manson, who wanted a recording contract. After
attempting to record some of Manson's half-formed songs, Melcher said no.
They also discussed making a documentary highlighting Manson's music.
Melcher abandoned the project after witnessing his subject becoming
embroiled in a terrifying fight with a drunken stuntman at the ranch to
which Manson and his "Family" had repaired after being turfed out of
Shortly after this episode Melcher sublet 10050 Cielo Drive to the film
director Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife Sharon Tate. The next year, on
August 9, while Polanski was abroad filming, members of the Manson Family,
high on LSD and fired by their leader's vengeful rehetoric, broke into the
house and murdered Sharon Tate and four friends, scrawling "Pigs" on the
wall in blood. One of the murderers, Susan Atkins, later claimed that
"Charlie [Manson] picked that house to instil fear into Terry Melcher,
because Terry had given us his word on a few things and never came through
Prior to the killings Manson had turned up at the house on several occasions
and let it be known that he was "looking for Melcher", although he was told
on at least one occasion that Melcher had moved.
After Manson was arrested, Melcher took to employing a bodyguard and he told
Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who chronicled the investigation and trial
in the bestselling book Helter Skelter, that his fear was so great that he
had been undergoing psychiatric treatment. Melcher was the most frightened
of the witnesses at the trial, even though Bugliosi assured him that "
Manson knew you were no longer living there".
In the early 1970s, Melcher was again hired by the Byrds to produce their
albums The Ballad of the Easy Rider, the live studio double Untitled and the
less successful Byrdmaniax.
He also worked with Gram Parsons, the Mamas and Papas, Bobby Darin and Glen
Campbell, although as the mellow country sound of the mid 1970s became more
influential he faded from the spotlight. His two solo albums, Terry Melcher
(1974) and Royal Flush (1976) - described by one critic as "Beverly Hills
Country" - were forgettable, even though the credits included Ry Cooder,
some of the Byrds and Doris Day, who performed as a backing singer. By the
end of the 1970s Melcher was dabbling in real estate, although he later
worked with the Beach Boys again, co-writing and producing Kokomo, which
went to No 1 in America in 1987.
His stepfather Marty Melcher had died in 1968, when it was discovered that
he had mismanaged or embezzled $20 million of Doris Day's money; Terry
Melcher also revealed that he had mistreated him when he was a boy. He
remained extremely close to his mother throughout his life, and in recent
years had devoted himself to managing her various projects.
Doris Day survives him, as does his wife Terese and a son by a previous
|[W-OBITS] MELCHER: Terrence P Mercer nov/2004 by "Peter McCrae" <>|