Terry Melcher

Terrence Paul Melcher (born Terrence Paul Jorden, February 8, 1942 – November 19, 2004) was an American musician and record producer who was instrumental in shaping the 1960s California Sound and folk rock movements, particularly during the nascent counterculture era. His best known contributions were producing the Byrds' first two albums Mr. Tambourine Man (1965) and Turn! Turn! Turn! (1965), as well as most of the hit recordings of Paul Revere & the Raiders and Gentle Soul. He is also known for his brief association with Charles Manson, a songwriter and cult leader that was later convicted of several murders.

Melcher was the only child of actress/singer Doris Day; his father was Day's first husband Al Jorden, and he was adopted by her third husband Martin Melcher. Most of his early recordings were with the vocal surf acts the Rip Chords and Bruce & Terry. In the 1960s, Melcher was acquainted with the Beach Boys, helping connect Brian Wilson to Smile lyricist Van Dyke Parks. Melcher later produced several singles for the Beach Boys in the 1980s and the 1990s, including "Kokomo" (1988), which topped U.S. record charts.

Terry Melcher
Terry Melcher Byrds in studio 1965
Melcher at left, in the studio with the Byrds' Gene Clark (center) and David Crosby in 1965.
Background information
Birth nameTerrence Paul Jorden
Also known asTerry Day
BornFebruary 8, 1942
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedNovember 19, 2004 (aged 62)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Record producer, session musician, songwriter
Associated acts

Early life

Terrence Paul Jorden was born in New York City to trombonist Al Jorden and his wife, singer-actress Doris Day. Known as "Terry",[1] the boy was named by his mother after the hero of her favorite childhood comic strip, Terry and the Pirates.[2]

Before the birth, Day was planning to divorce Al Jorden due to his alleged physical abuse and violent temper. Upon learning of his wife's pregnancy, Jorden had demanded that Day get an abortion. Shortly after giving birth, Day filed for divorce and left the infant with her mother in Ohio. Doris went back to touring with big band leader Les Brown and after the divorce, Jorden visited his son infrequently and had little presence in his life.

After divorcing her second husband, saxophonist George Weidler, Day married Martin Melcher, who would become her manager and produce many of her films. Melcher adopted Terry, giving the child his surname. In his freshman and sophomore high school years, Terry attended the Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut, then returned to California for his junior and senior years at Beverly Hills High. He subsequently attended Principia College in Illinois for a short time. After Martin Melcher's death in 1968, Day discovered that Martin had mismanaged or embezzled twenty million dollars from her. According to Terry, Martin also mistreated him as a child.[3]


In the early 1960s, Terry Melcher and Bruce Johnston formed the vocal duet Bruce & Terry. The duo had hits like "Custom Machine" and "Summer Means Fun". Melcher and Johnston also created another group, The Rip Chords, which had a Top 10 hit with "Hey Little Cobra". Later, Johnston would join the Beach Boys. By the mid-1960s, Melcher had joined the staff of Columbia Records and went on to work with the Byrds. He produced their hit cover versions of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and Pete Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!", as well as their respective albums.[4] Due to conflicts with the band and their manager, Melcher was replaced as producer by Allen Stanton and then Gary Usher, although he would later work with the Byrds again on their Ballad of Easy Rider, (Untitled), and Byrdmaniax albums. Melcher also worked with Paul Revere & the Raiders, Wayne Newton, Frankie Laine, Jimmy Boyd, Pat Boone, Glen Campbell, Mark Lindsay and the Mamas & the Papas. He was instrumental in signing another Los Angeles band, the Rising Sons, led by Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder.[5] Melcher also performed on the Beach Boys' platinum album Pet Sounds as a background vocalist, and introduced Brian Wilson to lyricist Van Dyke Parks in February 1966, beginning their partnership on The Smile Sessions project. Melcher was also a board member of the Monterey Pop Foundation and a producer of the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.

Encounter with Manson family

In 1968, Beach Boy Dennis Wilson introduced Melcher to ex-con and aspiring musician Charles Manson. Manson and his "family" had been living in Wilson's house at 14400 Sunset Boulevard after Wilson had picked up hitchhiking Manson family members Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey. Wilson expressed interest in Manson's music and also recorded two of Manson's songs with the Beach Boys.

For a time, Melcher was interested in recording Manson's music, as well as making a film about the family and their hippie commune existence. Manson met Melcher at 10050 Cielo Drive, the home Melcher shared with his girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen, and with musician Mark Lindsay.[6]

Manson eventually auditioned for Melcher, but Melcher declined to sign him. There was still talk of a documentary being made about Manson's music, but Melcher abandoned the project after witnessing his subject become embroiled in a fight with a drunken stuntman at Spahn Ranch.[3] Both Wilson and Melcher severed their ties with Manson, a move that angered Manson.[7] Not long after that, Melcher and Bergen moved out of the Cielo Drive home. The house's owner, Rudi Altobelli, then leased it to film director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate. Manson was reported to have visited the house on more than one occasion asking for Melcher, but was told that Melcher had moved.[3]

On August 9, 1969, the house was the site of the murders of Tate (who was eight months pregnant at the time), coffee heiress Abigail Folger, hairdresser Jay Sebring, writer Wojciech Frykowski and Steven Parent by members of Manson's "family". Some authors and law enforcement personnel have theorized that the Cielo Drive house was targeted by Manson as revenge for Melcher's rejection and that Manson was unaware that he and Bergen had moved out. However, family member Charles "Tex" Watson stated that Manson and company did, in fact, know that Melcher was no longer living there,[8] and Terry's former roommate, Mark Lindsay, stated: "Everybody speculated that Manson sent his minions up there to get rid of Terry because he was angry about not getting a record deal. But Terry and I talked about it later and Terry said Manson knew (Melcher had moved) because Manson or someone from his organization left a note on Terry's porch in Malibu."[6]

At that time, Melcher was producing singer Jimmy Boyd's music for A&M Records. After initial tracks were recorded, the Manson murders took place, prompting Melcher to go into seclusion, and the session was never completed. When Manson was arrested, it was widely reported that he had sent his followers to the house to kill Melcher and Bergen. Manson family member Susan Atkins, who admitted her part in the murders, stated to police and before a grand jury that the house was chosen as the scene for the murders "to instill fear into Terry Melcher because Terry had given us his word on a few things and never came through with them".[3] Melcher took to employing a bodyguard and told Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi that his fear was so great, 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 (on Cielo Drive)".[3]

Later years

Melcher again acted as producer for the Byrds on Ballad of Easy Rider, their eighth album, released in November 1969 (see 1969 in music).[9] The album peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard charts. At the time it was met with mixed reviews but is today regarded as one of the band's stronger albums from the latter half of their career.[10]

In the early 1970s, Melcher was the producer of the Byrds' 9th and 10th albums, (Untitled) and Byrdmaniax. But the results on Byrdmaniax were not well received; band member Gene Parsons referred to the album as "Melcher's Folly", due to his heavy overdubs of horns and strings, done without the knowledge of the band. During this time, he dabbled in real estate and served as the executive producer on his mother's CBS series, The Doris Day Show. He later recorded two solo albums, Terry Melcher and Royal Flush. In 1985, Terry co-produced the cable show, Doris Day's Best Friends, and worked as the director and vice president of the Doris Day Animal Foundation. He and his mother, to whom he remained close throughout his life, also co-owned the Cypress Inn, a small hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.[11]

In 1988, Melcher earned a Golden Globe nomination for co-writing the song "Kokomo" with John Phillips, Scott McKenzie and Mike Love. Recorded by the Beach Boys, the song was featured in the 1988 Tom Cruise film Cocktail, and hit No. 1 (the band's career fourth overall) on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was certified gold for U.S. sales of more than a million copies.[11] Melcher produced the band's 1992 studio record, Summer in Paradise, which was the first record produced digitally on Pro Tools.


On November 19, 2004, Terry Melcher died at his home of melanoma, after a long illness. He was 62 and was survived by his wife, Terese, his son, Ryan Melcher, and his mother, Doris Day.[12]


  1. ^ "Obituaries: Terry Melcher". telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph (London, GB). November 23, 2004. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  2. ^ McKay (January 1983). "Two Faces of Cincinnati". Cincinnati: 94. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Terry Melcher". The Daily Telegraph. London. November 23, 2004.
  4. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 33 – Revolt of the Fat Angel: American musicians respond to the British invaders. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries. Track 2.
  5. ^ westcoastmusic: Terry Melcher dies, Terry Melcher passed away, legendary artist who worked with the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Ry Cooder
  6. ^ a b Nancy Adamson (2013-06-08). "Mark Lindsay talks about new music, cats and Charlie Manson". Midland Reporter-Telegram.
  7. ^ Charles Manson. Charlie. The Charles Manson Family. Cielodrive.com: The Story of the Manson Family and their Victims, cielodrive.com; accessed March 17, 2017.
  8. ^ Chapter 14 Helter Skelter I (August 8-9): Will You Die For Me? Archived 2010-11-19 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 542–547. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  10. ^ "Ballad of Easy Rider review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  11. ^ a b Blog of Death: Terry Melcher, blogofdeath.com; accessed March 17, 2017.
  12. ^ Doris Day's beloved son Terry Melcher dies at 62..., dorisdaytribute.com, November 25, 2004.

External links

(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone

"(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" is a rock song written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. It was first recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders and appeared on their album Midnight Ride, released in May 1966.

The song is simple musically, with a repeating verse chord progression of E major, G major, A major, and C major, and a repeating bridge in cut time of E major, G major, A major, and G major.

California Music

California Music was a loosely organized American rock supergroup comprising Los Angeles-based studio musicians Bruce Johnston, Terry Melcher, Gary Usher, Curt Boettcher, and Brian Wilson.

Getcha Back

"Getcha Back" is a song written by Mike Love and Terry Melcher for the American rock band The Beach Boys, on their 1985 album The Beach Boys. It was the band's first release since the drowning death of Dennis Wilson in 1983. The song peaked at number 26 nationally and number two on the Adult Contemporary chart. "Getcha Back" recaptured the sound and feel of the Beach Boys' early hits.

Musically, the backing vocals resemble those from the 1959 hit "Hushabye" by The Mystics, which the Beach Boys had covered in 1964 for their All Summer Long album. Comparisons could also be made to Bruce Springsteen's 1980 hit "Hungry Heart", which Love later recorded a cover of for a tribute album. The Allmusic Review had this to say "despite the production sheen provided by Steve Levine (of Culture Club fame), this is another competent but uninspired effort."

Here Without You (The Byrds song)

"Here Without You" is a song written by Gene Clark that was first performed on the Byrds' 1965 debut album Mr. Tambourine Man. It was later covered by other artists, including Reigning Sound and Richard Thompson.

I Knew I'd Want You

"I Knew I'd Want You" is a song by the folk rock band the Byrds, written by band member Gene Clark, and first released as the B-side to their 1965 debut single, "Mr. Tambourine Man". It was also later included on their debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man.

If You're Gone (The Byrds song)

"If You're Gone" is a song written by Gene Clark that was first released on The Byrds' 1965 album Turn! Turn! Turn!.

Kokomo (song)

"Kokomo" is a song written by John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, Mike Love, and Terry Melcher and recorded by American rock band the Beach Boys. Its lyrics describe two lovers taking a trip to a relaxing place on Kokomo, an island off the Florida Keys. It was released as a single on July 18, 1988, by Elektra Records and became a No. 1 Hit in the United States, Japan, and Australia (where it topped for about two months). The single was released to coincide with the release of Roger Donaldson's film Cocktail, and its subsequent soundtrack.

It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television in 1988, but lost to Phil Collins' "Two Hearts" (from the film Buster). "Two Hearts" and Carly Simon's "Let the River Run" from Working Girl jointly beat it for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

Love Him (album)

Love Him was a Doris Day album recorded in October and November, 1963 and released by Columbia Records on December 16, 1963. It was produced by Day's son Terry Melcher and issued as both a monophonic LP (catalog number CL-2131) and a stereophonic LP (catalog number CS-8931). The album was arranged and conducted by Tommy Oliver.

The album was combined with Day's 1960 album, Show Time, on a compact disc, issued on November 14, 2000 by Collectables Records.

Move Over Darling (song)

"Move Over Darling" is a song originally recorded by Doris Day, which was the theme from the 1963 movie Move Over, Darling, starring Doris Day, James Garner and Polly Bergen, and was released as a single the same year. The song was written by Doris Day's son, Terry Melcher, along with Hal Kanter and Joe Lubin.In 1964, Doris Day's version of the song spent 16 weeks on the United Kingdom's Record Retailer chart, peaking at No. 8, while reaching No. 1 in Hong Kong, and No. 4 on New Zealand's "Lever Hit Parade". In 1987, the song was re-released as a single and it re-charted on the UK Singles Chart, reaching No. 45.In 1983, Tracey Ullman released a version of the song as a single and on the album You Broke My Heart in 17 Places. Ullman's version spent 9 weeks on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at No. 8, while reaching No. 5 on the Irish Singles Chart, No. 15 in Flanders No. 13 on the Dutch Top 40, and No. 20 on the Dutch Nationale Hitparade.

My Heart (Doris Day album)

My Heart is the 29th studio album by Doris Day, released on September 5, 2011. On September 11, 2011 the album entered the UK chart at number nine, making Doris Day, at age 89, the oldest artist to score a UK Top 10 with an album featuring new material.Eight of the songs are new releases, with three of them written by Day's son Terry Melcher, and Bruce Johnston. Many of the songs on this collection were recorded in the mid-1980s for her Doris Day's Best Friends television show. The songs were meant to be used as background music for segments featuring Doris and the animals. When the original recordings were retrieved, it was decided that they should be released after being remixed for superior sound quality."My One and Only Love" had been issued on Day's 1962 album with André Previn, Duet, "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries" had been issued on The Love Album (1994), "My Buddy" had been issued on I'll See You in My Dreams (1951) and "Ohio" was issued first on 1960s Show Time.

The track "My Heart" was first heard in the 1993 PBS special Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey. It played over the closing credits as Doris was seen walking with her grandson on the beach.

My Heart was released on December 2, 2011 in the U.S. It was Day's first entry on the Billboard 200 albums chart in 47 years, debuting at #135. The U.S. release includes an exclusive bonus track, Stewball, a folk song about a racehorse. Doris selected this song personally for Stateside listeners. It is a duet with her late son, Terry Melcher. The CD also includes a song "Happy Endings" with an introduction by Doris Day, but with the main vocal sung by Melcher.

Problem Child (The Beach Boys song)

"Problem Child" is a song written by Terry Melcher for American rock band the Beach Boys. It was released as a cassette single on July 23, 1990 in conjunction with the motion picture of the same name.

Rock 'n' Roll to the Rescue

"Rock 'n' Roll to the Rescue" is a single released by The Beach Boys on June 9, 1986. It was recorded for their 1986 greatest hits compilation Made in U.S.A.. The single reached #68 on the U.S. Billboard pop singles chart. Brian Wilson sang most of the lead vocals, with Al Jardine, and Carl Wilson both having some lines. Mike Love and Bruce Johnston did backing vocals. The group did a live version during their 1985 Farm Aid concert appearance with Mike Love, Carl Wilson and Al Jardine sharing lead vocals. The song has an autobiographical feel to it.

The 12" single of "Rock 'N' Roll to the Rescue" featured an extended remix of the song which has a lot more keyboard, heavier drum beat, and when Brian sings the verses, the music is led by the bass guitar, creating a more pop sounding version of the song, than mainstream rock like the album and 7" version. Also, on the master tapes labels, Brian Wilson is credited as co-producer, even though it doesn't list it on the single nor the album.

Somewhere Near Japan

"Somewhere Near Japan" is a song written by John Phillips, Terry Melcher, Mike Love, and Bruce Johnston for the American rock band The Beach Boys. It was released on their 1989 album Still Cruisin'.

Spanish Harlem Incident

"Spanish Harlem Incident" is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan which was released on his 1964 album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, on August 8 (see 1964 in music). The song has been described as "a gorgeous vignette" by critics and been praised for its multilayered, poetic dimensions. When Dylan himself has been questioned about the song's subject matter he has confessed that he has no idea. However, author Paul Williams describes the song as a portrait of a gypsy girl that Dylan has seen only fleetingly but who has completely captivated him. Williams goes on to say that within the context of the song, Dylan is falling in love with not only the gypsy girl but also with the whole idea of gypsies and of himself in love with one.

Still Cruisin'

Still Cruisin' is the 26th studio album by The Beach Boys, their thirty-fifth official album (counting compilations and live packages), and their last release of the 1980s. It is also the last album of new material released during a brief return to Capitol Records.

Released August 28, 1989, the album was panned by critics, with Allmusic referring to the band's sound by producer Terry Melcher as sounding "like a professional '60s cover band." Still Cruisin' was left out of Capitol's Beach Boys re-issue campaign in 2000 and 2001, and is currently out of print along with their album Summer in Paradise.

Still Cruisin' (song)

"Still Cruisin'" is a song written by Mike Love and Terry Melcher for the American rock band The Beach Boys. It was released on their 1989 album Still Cruisin' and reached number 11 in Austria, number 28 in Australia and number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Summer in Paradise

Summer in Paradise is the 27th studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on August 3, 1992 by Brother Records. Produced by Terry Melcher, it was the first and only studio album not to feature any new contributions from founding member Brian Wilson. The album has been described as the band's critical and commercial low point, failing to chart in either the US or UK. The Beach Boys did not record another album of original material until That's Why God Made the Radio in 2012.

Summer in Paradise was left out of Capitol's Beach Boys CD reissue campaign in 2000 and 2001. Both it and its predecessor, Still Cruisin', are currently out of print.

The Bells of Rhymney

"The Bells of Rhymney" is a song first recorded by folk singer Pete Seeger, which consists of Seeger's own music and words written by Welsh poet Idris Davies.

The World Turns All Around Her

"The World Turns All Around Her" is a song written by Gene Clark that was first recorded by the Byrds' for their second album Turn! Turn! Turn! (1965).

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