Terry Melcher, a producer, composer and songwriter who helped shape the ’60s-era California sound, died Friday at his Beverly Hills, Calif., home after a long battle with cancer. He was 62.
Born Terry Jorden, Melcher was the son of actress/singer Doris Day and her first husband, Al Jorden. He was later adopted by Day’s third husband, Martin Melcher, and took his name.
He began his career as “Terry Day,” capitalizing on his mother’s famous name. However he later became known in his own right, singing background tracks, writing lyrics, playing the piano, composing and producing.
Melcher teamed with future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston in the early 1960s. The duo eventually formed the group the Rip Chords, who recorded the 1964 hit “Hey, Little Cobra.” He also wrote songs with Bobby Darin and Randy Newman. But it wasn’t until the mid-1960s, when he joined Columbia Records as a producer, that he made his mark on the California sound.
He was instrumental in helping craft the Byrds’ groundbreaking fusion of rock and folk and produced several of the group’s hits including their versions of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn.”
Melcher also co-wrote the hit “Kokomo” for the Beach Boys. Used in the movie “Cocktail,” it was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1988 for best original song.
During his career Melcher also worked with Paul Revere & the Raiders, Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Glen Campbell, Gram Parsons and the Mamas & the Papas, among others.
Melcher later worked more frequently with his mother. From 1968-1972, he served as the executive producer of her “The Doris Day Show” on CBS. He also co-produced “Doris Day’s Best Friends,” which ran in the 1980s.
Melcher is survived by his mother, his wife Terese and one son, Ryan.
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