Sunday, November 21, 2004

PRODUCEROBIT: The death has been announced of Beach Boys producer Terry Melcher.

The son of Doris Day - and executive producer for her TV programme - Melcher's life was nearly cut even more abruptly short. It's believed that he was the real target of the Manson Family the night they butchered Sharon Tate: the house Tate was attacked in had been rented in his name and it's thought that Charles Manson was looking to settle a grudge developed from Melcher turning down his attempts to become a recording artist.

Although his work with the Beach Boys is perhaps his most lauded work, Melcher worked with an enormous range of artists. He had some troubles working with The Raiders on their first album for Columbia when he attempted to bring in session men to play on one of the tracks. At the time, the Raiders weren't even in the same state, and Melcher's plan was to fly the then lead singer, Mark Lindsay, in to drop the vocal on top. The band, appalled at the idea, rehearsed extra hard to claim their place. The upshot was a producer who learned the limits of his power, and a band who were probably better than they'd even been.

He started out playing rather than producing - as a member of The Rip Chords he managed a minor hit during the surf craze years with Hey Little Cobra. The Rip Chords also featured Bruce Johnston, whose future path would take him to the Beach Boys, while Melcher discovered a lucrative side role first writing, and then producing, for Bobby Darin (in this period he also wrote for Randy Newman). Columbia, spotting his skills in production, hooked him up with the Byrds. It was to be a unhappy partnership as Melcher and the Byrds' management team never saw eye to eye, but did gift the world Turn Turn Turn and Mr Tambourine Man, prompting Melcher to turn his attentions to the Raiders. He would reunite with The Byrds in the 70s, but while the working relationships were much warmer this time round, the work wasn't - one of the albums produced during these years being described by Barney Hoskyns as "Melcher's folly", so overblown and ill-judged were the arrangements.

Gradually, Melcher drifted away from the music scene to concentrate on helping his mother run the Doris Day Animal Foundation. He had been battling melanoma for some time prior to his death. Survived by his wife, one son and his mother, Terry Melcher was 62.