Terry Melcher was an American musician, and record producer. He is best known for his association with the genre of music known as ‘California Sound.’ He played a major role in popularizing the folk rock genre too. Melcher was associated with rock bands like ‘The Byrds,’ and the ‘Beach Boys.’ Being born to musician parents, Melcher was inclined towards music right from his childhood. Melcher’s career in music started with an association with American singer Bruce Johnston. Melcher and Johnston created the vocal music group, ‘The Rip Chords.’ Later, he worked with ‘The Byrds,’ and produced the cover versions of popular songs, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ and ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ He recorded a few solo albums too. He was also the producer of the TV series, ‘The Doris Day Show,’ in which his mother played the lead role. He made headlines for his relations with the notorious ‘Manson Family.’ After the initial camaraderie, Melcher and Charles Manson developed irreparable differences. After his differences with Charles Manson, he lived a secluded life, fearing possible attacks from Manson or his gang. Terry Melcher died after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was survived by his mother, wife, and son.
Childhood & Early Life
Terry Melcher was born Terrence Paul Jorden, on February 8, 1942, in New York City. His father, Al Jorden, was a trombonist, and his mother, Doris Day, was a singer and actress. He was named after the hero of his favorite comic book, ‘Terry and the Pirates.’
Doris Day was still a teenager when she gave birth to Melcher. Though Al Jorden pressurized her to get an abortion done, she did not yield to his demands. Soon after Melcher’s birth, his parents divorced. Young Melcher was sent to Ohio, to live with his maternal grandmother, Alma. Melcher never had any relations with his paternal family.
Following her first divorce, Doris Day married George Weidler. This relation also ended in divorce. Her third husband, Martin Melcher, adopted young Terry, and gave him his surname. Thus Terrence Jorden officially became Terry Melcher. He attended the ‘Loomis Chaffee School,’ in Connecticut, for his early education. Later, he attended the ‘Beverly Hills High School’ in California.
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In the 1960s, Terry Melcher started his career in music by forming a music duo with the American singer, Bruce Johnston. It was called ‘Bruce & Terry.’ They produced several hits such as ‘Custom Machine,’ and ‘Summer Means Fun.’
Melcher joined hands with Johnston, on another musical group, called ‘The Rip Chords.’ It was formed in the 1960s. The first song of the group, ‘Here I Stand,’ was produced by Melcher. It was released in December, 1962. ‘Hey Little Cobra’ was one of the biggest hits of the group. It was released in 1963. Melcher was the lead singer of the song. The song peaked at number 4, on the ‘Billboard Hot 100.’
In the mid 1960s, Melcher joined ‘Columbia Records,’ as one of its staff. He worked with the rock band, ‘The Byrds,’ to produce several of their hit albums. He was the producer of their debut album, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man.’ It was a cover version of the song, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ by Bob Dylan. The album belonged to the folk rock genre, and it reached number six spot, on the ‘Billboard Top LPs’ chart.
Melcher was the producer of the album, ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ by ‘The Byrds.’ It had the folk rock version of the original song, ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ by Peter Seeger, and several other popular charts. ‘The Byrds’ version of the song reached number one spot, on the ‘US Billboard Hot 100’ chart. It was released in 1965.
Melcher had some conflicts with ‘The Byrds,’ due to which he was removed from the position of producer. He later worked with several other music bands such as ‘Paul Revere & the Raiders,’ ‘Gentle Soul,’ and ‘The Mamas & the Papas.’ He worked with the ‘Beach Boys,’ on their platinum album, ‘Pet Sounds.’ Melcher was the background vocalist for the album. Melcher was a board member of the ‘Monterey Pop Foundation.’ He was a producer of the ‘Monterey Pop Festival,’ held in 1967.
Terry Melcher was associated with the cult leader and criminal, Charles Manson, who was an aspiring musician also. Melcher was initially interested in recording music with Manson. Later, he declined the project, after witnessing a fight in which Manson was involved. This caused altercations between Melcher and the Manson family. As the Manson family was notoriously involved in several murders, Melcher feared for his life. For several years, he led a life in seclusion.
In 1969, Melcher worked as the producer of the album, ‘Ballad of Easy Rider,’ released by ‘The Byrds.’ He was the executive producer of the sitcom, ‘The Doris Day Show,’ which was telecast on the ‘CBS’ network. Melcher’s mother played the protagonist in the series.
In 1988, Melcher received a ‘Golden Globe’ nomination for writing the song, ‘Kokomo.’ It was co-written by Terry Melcher, John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Mike Love, and was recorded by the ‘Beach Boys.’ It was featured in the movie, ‘Cocktail.’ The song reached the number one spot on the ‘Billboard Hot 100.’ It was certified gold in the United States.
Family & Personal Life
Terry Melcher was married thrice. He was married to Melissa E Brown, from 1974 to 1977. Later, he married Jacqueline Carlin. The couple has a son, Ryan. His third marriage was to Terese Edwards.
Melcher suffered from melanoma, during the last years of his life. After battling the life-threatening illness for a long time, Melcher succumbed to it. On November 19, 2004, he breathed his last at his home. He was 62 years old. He was survived by his wife, Terese; son, Ryan; and his mother, Doris Day.
Melcher was very close to his mother. But as the age gap between them was very less, they were like siblings, rather than mother and son. He received the maternal affection from his grandmother, Alma.
Melcher was initially fond of his stepfather, Martin Melcher. He was eager to see his mother marry Martin. But after the marriage, Martin started taking control of monetary affairs. He mistreated young Melcher. After Martin’s death, it was discovered that he had embezzled twenty million dollars from Doris Day.