Richard Delvy, a pioneering surf-rock drummer, composer, arranger, publisher and producer, died February 6 at West Hills Hospital in California after a long illness. He was 67.
Born on April 20, 1942, in Bridgeport, Conn., Delvy relocated to Southern California and became the drummer for the Bel-Airs, one of the earliest surf-rock groups.
The band had a regional hit with the instrumental “Mr. Moto,” which was covered by acts including the Ventures and Dick Dale and His Del-Tones. The original track was included in Rhino’s 1996 four-disc compilation “Cowabunga! The Surf Box.”
Delvy later formed the Challengers and produced its 1963 debut album, “Surfbeat,” which sold well and helped solidify the polarity of surf music and culture.
He soon branched out into the business side, securing the rights to the Surfaris’ “Wipe Out,” which hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963 and reached No. 16 in re-release three years later. The song was a hit again in 1987, this time by rap group the Fat Boys with the Beach Boys.
“Some of surf music’s been real good to me because I’ve been involved in a lot of records — everything from ‘Pipeline’ to ‘Boss,'” Delvy once said. “But accidentally I kept the rights to ‘Wipe Out,’ and that particular copyright has been wonderful for me. At times, it’s kept me eating. I wish I had 10 of ’em.”
Delvy also acquired the copyright on dozens of other songs, including “Mr. Moto” and “Chick-a-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It),” which was a top 10 hit for Daddy Dewdrop in 1971.
During the late ’60s, he did producing work on albums by the Chambers Brothers and the Outsiders and composed the theme to the B-movie “The Green Slime.” He followed that with musical contributions to the cartoon series “The Archies,” “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” and “The Groovy Ghoulies.”
Delvy later served in executive roles at MGM Music, Carousel Records and Bell Records and was a musical director and arranger on tours by Tony Orlando & Dawn and David Cassidy. He also owned the publishing company Miraleste Music.
He is survived by his wife, Bonnie; son Dodd; stepchildren Bryant and Robyn McFarlane; and a granddaughter, Skyler Delvy.