Producer and songwriter Terry Melcher, known for his work with the Beach Boys and the Byrds, has died at the age of 62 after an extended battle with cancer. The son of actress and animal activist Doris Day, Melcher died Friday at his home in Beverly Hills.
Melcher got his start songwriting in 1964 with the Rip Chords, a partnership that included future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, registering a hit with “Hey, Little Cobra.” Melcher also collaborated with the likes of Bobby Darin and Randy Newman before signing on as a staff producer with Columbia Records in the mid-60s. Melcher soon made his mark as a producer, notably working behind the boards on the Byrds’ covers of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn.” A key figure in the California music scene of the Sixties, Melcher played on the Beach Boys classic “Pet Sounds,” and later co-wrote the 1988 hit “Kokomo” with the group, a track that was used in the movie Cocktail and subsequently earned a Golden Globe nomination.
In addition to releasing a pair of solo albums in the Seventies under the name Terry Melcher and Royal Flush, Melcher worked closely with his mother, serving as executive producer of The Doris Day Show from 1968 to 1972, and as co-producer of her Eighties show Doris Day’s Best Friends. He went on to also help her run the Doris Day Animal League and the Doris Day Animal Foundation.
Melcher was once given a demo tape by cult leader and aspiring musician Charles Manson, and while the two did not record together, much was made of it when Manson’s followers later murdered actress Sharon Tate and others in a Hollywood home once rented by the producer. Police later established that Manson was aware that Melcher no longer lived at the residence and was not an intended target of the killings.
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Melcher is survived by his mother, his wife Terese, and his son Ryan.