Bruce and Terry: “Summer Means Fun”

ON THIS DATE (48 YEARS AGO)
June 2, 1964 – Bruce and Terry: “Summer Means Fun” b/w “Yeah !” (Columbia 4-43055) 45 single is released in the US.
Bruce & Terry were Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher. The pair were instrumental in the development of surf rock, recording under a variety of names and created the band The Rip Chords.
They began working together while Johnston was a well-known session musician and Melcher, the son of actress/singer Doris Day and producer of The Byrds recordings, had a minor solo career as Terry Day before becoming the youngest staff record producer in Columbia Records’ history. Together, they began recording as Terry recorded and also helped produce the 1963 album “Surfin’ Round the World”.
Producing a ‘surf-frat’ band called The Rip Chords, whose “Here I Stand” had reached #51 in early 1963, they ended up taking over most of the vocal parts on that band’s hit “Hey Little Cobra” in 1964 (along with Rip Chords band members, Phil Stewart, Rich Rotkin, Arnie Marcus and Ernie Bringas). The song was the first in a series of hit singles (most of which were released under the name Bruce & Terry), reaching #4 on the U.S. pop charts.
Johnston later joined The Beach Boys, while Melcher became a full time producer. On November 19, 2004, Melcher died at his home after a long battle with melanoma. He was 62 years old.
~ William Ruhlmann, allmusic
It is easy in retrospect to listen to a lot of the vocal surf music of the early ’60s and dismiss most of it as inferior copies of the Beach Boys. But such a judgment ignores the extensive cross-fertilization of the scene. Jan & Dean’s records often sounded like the Beach Boys, it’s true, but one reason was that Beach Boy Brian Wilson often co-wrote and performed on them. Similarly, Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher, who recorded as the Rip Chords in 1963 and as Bruce & Terry in 1964, aped the sound of Beach Boys records, but also not without help; Wilson wrote the first Bruce & Terry chart single, “Custom Machine.” In July 1964, Bruce & Terry earned another chart entry with a song welcoming the season: “Summer Means Fun.” The cheery tune, which borrowed the phrase “the girls are two to one” from Jan & Dean’s “Surf City,” was written by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, who made their own records as the Fantastic Baggies. Johnston and Melcher gave it a typical surf music production, complete with a bouncy beat and high harmonies. It was a sound Wilson’s Beach Boys were starting to leave behind in favor of a more aggressive approach on singles like “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “I Get Around,” which may help explain why it wasn’t a bigger hit. Jan & Dean didn’t mind the lyric steal or the overall similarity to their own records, however; they immediately covered “Summer Means Fun” for their September 1964 LP The Little Old Lady From Pasadena. But the single was Bruce & Terry’s last to chart; the following year, Melcher was spending his time producing rock acts like the Byrds and Paul Revere & the Raiders, and Johnston joined the Beach Boys.

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Filed under 1964, Bruce and Terry, Summer Means Fun, The Beach Boys

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