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About Terry Melcher
Terry Melcher (February 8, 1942 – November 19, 2004) was an American musician and record producer.
Melcher was born Terry Jorden in New York City to trombonist Al Jorden and his wife, singer-actress Doris Day. Day was only 19 years old when she gave birth to Terry. Before Melcher's birth, Day was planning to leave the abusive and violent Jorden: outraged when he found out about her pregnancy, he had demanded Day get an abortion. Shortly after giving birth, Day filed for divorce, left the boy with her mother in Ohio and went back to touring with big band leader Les Brown. After the divorce, Al Jorden failed to visit his son regularly and had little presence in his life.
Day's career led her to Hollywood where she appeared on local radio shows. After marrying and divorcing her second husband, saxophonist George Weidler, Day met and married Martin Melcher. Martin Melcher would become Day's manager and go on to produce many of her movies. Melcher adopted Terry, giving the boy his surname. After Melcher's death in 1968, it was discovered that he had mismanaged or embezzled $20 million of Doris Day's money.
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 band together, The Rip Chords, that had a Top 10 hit "Hey, Little Cobra". Later, Bruce 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 Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn! albums. Due to conflicts with the band and their manager, Melcher was replaced by Allen Stanton, 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 L.A. band, the Rising Sons, led by Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder. Melcher also performed on the Beach Boys' Platinum-certified album Pet Sounds as a background vocalist, and introduced Brian Wilson to Van Dyke Parks in February 1966, beginning their partnership on the Smile project. He was also a board member of the Monterey Pop Foundation and a producer of the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
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 on Sunset Boulevard after Dennis had picked up two girls from the "family" hitchhiking. Wilson expressed interest in Manson's music and even 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 movie about the "family" & their "hippie commune" existence. During that time, Manson met Melcher at 10050 Cielo Drive, the home Melcher shared with his girlfriend, Candice Bergen, on different occasions. 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 becoming embroiled in a terrifying fight with a drunken stuntman at Spahn Ranch. Both Wilson and Melcher severed their ties with Manson, a move that angered Manson.
Not long after severing ties with Manson, Melcher and Bergen moved out of the Cielo Drive home. The house's owner, Rudi Altobelli, leased it to film director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate. Manson visited the house looking for Melcher, but was turned away as Melcher had moved. On August 9, 1969, the house that was once occupied by Melcher was the site of the brutal murders of Sharon Tate (who was eight months pregnant at the time), coffee heiress Abigail Folger (known as Gibby to her friends), 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 reason that 10050 Cielo Drive was selected by Manson was to target Melcher as revenge for Melcher's earlier rejection of his music for a recording contract, and that Manson did not believe it when told that Melcher and Bergen had moved out. However, Tex Watson states that Manson and the Family did know that Melcher was no longer living there.
At that time Melcher was producing Jimmy Boyd for A&M Records. Herb Alpert had previously visited a recording studio where Melcher and Boyd were recording a session for Vee Jay Records. Vee Jay Records was the first record company to release The Beatles records in the USA, then lost a major law suit over the rights to the Beatles with Capitol Records and went bankrupt. The record never got released. Herb Alpert was impressed enough to invite Melcher to produce Boyd for A&M Records. After the initial tracks were recorded, the Manson murders took place, prompting Melcher to go into seclusion and the session was never completed.
After Manson was arrested, it was widely reported that he had sent his followers to the house to kill Melcher. 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". In this aim, the Manson Family was quite successful. Melcher took to employing a bodyguard and he told 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 there".
Melcher again acted as producer for The Byrds on Ballad of Easy Rider, which was their eighth album and was released in November 1969 (see 1969 in music). The album peaked at #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.
In the early 1970s, Melcher was the producer of The Byrds tenth album Byrdmaniax, but the results were not well received; one critic referred to the album as "Melcher's Folly". During this time, he also 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 extremely close throughout his life, also co-owned the Cypress Inn, a small hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
In 1988, Melcher earned a Golden Globe nomination for co-writing the song "Kokomo" with John Phillips, Scott McKenzie and Mike Love, and recorded by The Beach Boys. The song was featured in the 1988 Tom Cruise film, Cocktail, and hit #1 (the band's career fourth overall) on the Billboard Hot 100. The 45 r.p.m. single was certified Gold for sales of more than a million US copies. He also produced the band's last 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 after a long battle with melanoma. He was 62 years old. He is survived by his wife Terese, son Ryan Melcher and his mother Doris Day.