More One-Hit Wonders – Rip Chords, etc.

Gary: I guess One Hit Wonders, is a misnomer or really not fair.  It does not mean they, he or she only made one record; it means that there was one major hit and they where never able to achieve that level again.  So from time to time we will take a look at these Artists and some that where not just # 1, so hang you may never have heard some of this music.

The Rip Chords:



Bruce Johnston & Terry Melcher
Bruce Johnston would join the Beach Boys
Terry Melcher (Doris Day’s Son) would die in 2004 from Melanoma

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, had a minor solo career as Terry Day record producer in Columbia Records’ history. Together, they began recording as Terry recorded and also helped produce the 1963 album “Surfin’ Round the World.” before becoming the youngest staff

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 Beach Boys soundalike 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, whilst 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.

The Rip Chords - Hey Little Cobra


Dale Wright & the Rock-Its



Dale Wright (b. Harlan Dale Riffe, Feb. 4, 1938, Middletown, Ohio) was an early American rock & roll singer.

Wright was a disc jockey in Dayton, Ohio who signed to Fraternity Records after playing a song he’d written on the air. He recorded a sizable body of work for Fraternity in the late 1950s, some of it with backing band The Rock-Its, and hit the Billboard Hot 100 twice in 1958 with the singles “She’s Neat” (#38) and “Don’t Do it” (#77). By the early 1960s he had been dropped from Fraternity but continued recording for smaller labels well into the decade.

After his success as a singer waned Wright returned to radio, doing a talk show for a Lexington, Kentucky station.

Dale Write & the Rock-Its - She's Neat

The Gentrys



The seven-member group of Treadwell High School (Memphis, Tennessee), alumni included Bruce Bowles (vocals), Bobby Fisher (saxophone, keyboards), Jimmy Hart trumpet, keyboards), Pat Neal (bass guitar), Larry Raspberry (guitar, lead vocalist), and drummer Larry Wall. The youths formed the Gentrys in May 1963.

The Gentrys million-selling “Keep on Dancing” reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965, and they appeared on “Hullabaloo,” Shindig!, and “Where the Action Is” and toured with The Beach Boys and Sonny and Cher, as well as playing on Dick Clark bills. However, two follow-up singles failed to break into the Top 40, and the group disbanded in 1966 after appearing in the movie It’s a Bikini World. Other notable band members during the 1963–1966 years were Claude Wayne Whitehead (rhythm guitar), Larry Butler (keyboards), Ronnie Moore (bass), and very briefly, studio heavyweight engineer/producer and member of the cult band Big Star Terry Manning (keyboards).

Keep on Dancing” is notable for the fact that it is actually one short recording repeated, to stretch the record out to the length of the typical pop single of its day. The second half of the song — after the false fade, beginning with Wall’s famous drum fill — is the same as the first.  Though the group had Jimmy Hart and Bruce Bowles as singers, their biggest hit was sung by guitarist Larry Raspberry.

The Gentrys - Keep On Dancing

Ian Whitcomb



Ian Whitcomb (born Ian Timothy Whitcomb, 10 July 1941, in Woking Hospital, Woking, Surrey, England) is an entertainer, singer, songwriter, author, record producer, and actor. As part of the British Invasion, his hit song “You Turn Me On” reached number 8 on Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1965.

Ian Whitcomb - You Turn Me On

Whitcomb’s father, Pat, worked for his father’s film company British Screen Classics in the 1920s, eventually co-starring in Mr. Nobody (released by Fox in 1929). His father was a schooled pianist and encouraged Whitcomb to play. Ian’s younger brother, Robin, accompanied him on drums in their first bands, notably The Ragtime Suwanee Six (1960-62) whose manager was Denny Cordell, later to produce records by Procol Harum and Joe Cocker. Robin went on to play tambourine on Sonny & Cher’s hit “I Got You Babe” (1965).

Growing up, Whitcomb’s chief musical inspirations were Phil Harris, Johnnie Ray, Guy Mitchell, Elvis Presley, and George Formby. He was sent away to boarding school in 1949 (Newlands, Seaford, Sussex) at age 8 and there he soon formed a tissue paper-and-comb band to entertain staff and boys with current hits such as “Riders in the Sky” .

At Bryanston, a public school in Dorset, England, Whitcomb started a skiffle group in 1957 and then a rock and roll band in 1959. In the early 1960s, while studying history at Trinity College, Dublin, he became a founding member of Dublin’s first rhythm and blues band, Bluesville.

Their second record release, “This Sporting Life“, charted in the U.S. in 1965. Whitcomb’s next single, “You Turn Me On” reached Billboard’s number 8 spot in July 1965.

During his summer vacation in 1965, Whitcomb went to America to appear on such television programs as Shindig, Hollywood A Go-Go and American Bandstand.

Whitcomb played the Hollywood Bowl with The Beach Boys in 1965 and then toured with The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.

N-Nervous!” Whitcomb’s next release, was recorded in Hollywood, California and reached Billboard’s Top 50.

He returned to Dublin for his history finals and received a B.A. degree. In 1966 he turned to early popular song: his version of a 1916 comedy number, “Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go with Friday on Saturday Night?” was a West Coast hit, reviving the ukulele before the emergence of Tiny Tim.

Although he had one major hit, Ian was very successful in other ways. After making four albums for Tower Records and producing Mae West on her album called Great Balls of Fire for MGM Records in 1972, Whitcomb returned to the UK where he began his writing career with After the Ball. He later wrote Tin Pan Alley, A Pictorial History (1919–1939) and a novel, Lotusland: A Story of Southern California.

Returning to Hollywood, Whitcomb starred in and wrote L.A.–My Home Town (BBC TV; 1976) and Tin Pan Alley (PBS; 1974). He also provided the music for a documentary film, Bugs Bunny: Superstar (UA), which was narrated by Orson Welles.

For Play-Rite Music he cut 18 piano rolls that were included in an album, Pianomelt. His other albums reflected his research into the genres of ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, vaudeville, and music hall. These, beginning with Under the Ragtime Moonrecord labels including Warner Bros. Records, United Artists, and Decca Records. During that time he also wrote and produced singles for Warner Bros.’ country division, most notably “Hands“, a massage parlour story, and “A Friend of a Friend of Mine“.

In the 1980s Whitcomb published Rock Odyssey: A Chronicle of the Sixties: Ian Whitcomb, a memoir of the 1960s and described by The New York Times as the best personal account of this period. He also published Ragtime America (Limelight Editions, 1988), followed by a memoir of life as a British expatriate living in Los Angeles, California, Resident Alien (Century, 1990).

He produced a British documentary on black music, Legends of Rhythm and Blues (part of the series Repercussions, made by Third Eye Productions for Channel Four in 1984). During this time he also hosted a radio show in Los Angeles for fifteen years, taking the program from KROQ to KCRWKPPC-FM. His songs can he heard in the films Bloody Movie (1987), Cold Sassy Tree (1989), Encino Man (1992), Grass (1999), Stanley’s Gig (2000), After the Storm (2001), The Cat’s Meow (2002), Last Call (2002), Sleep Easy, Hutch Rimes (2002), Lonesome Jim (2005), and Fido (2006).



6 responses to “More One-Hit Wonders – Rip Chords, etc.

  1. It was nice to read about Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher – I had the pleasure of knowing both of them while I was Doris Day’s personal secretary in the ’70s – one of my favorite memories was listening to them sing “I Write The Song” (the Barry Manilow hit) that Bruce wrote….they sang it at Doris’s home many times and it was a treat to hear them – later worked with them briefly…two very nice and creative men. It was sad that Terry died so young – he was a huge help to his famous Mom, Doris Day.
    Thanks for talking about them in your blog!

    • Hi Mary Anne
      Thanks so much for your recent comment. Knowing/having known Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher, I bet you could come up with some interesting reading material.
      – Russ Strathdee

  2. Great stuff. I’ve now bookmarked this site!

  3. Thanks Russ – very enjoyable & informative! I’ve added it to my favourites!

  4. Mary Ann Barothy HAS come up with “some interesting reading material” in her book, “Day at a Time: An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey to Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond,” available on She mentions Bruce and Terry and their piano sessions in Doris’s house. A great read by a fan who became a friend!

  5. Pingback: One Hit Wonders / 1965 | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

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