The Four Preps
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Past members||Ed Cobb|
The Four Preps are an American popular music male quartet. In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the group amassed eight gold singles and three gold albums. Its million-selling signature tunes included "26 Miles (Santa Catalina)," "Big Man," "Lazy Summer Night," and "Down by the Station".
The Four Preps' numerous television and motion picture appearances included four years backing teen heartthrob Ricky Nelson on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and appearing with Sandra Dee in the film Gidget. Their most recent television appearance was with the award-winning 2004 PBS special, Magic Moments: The Best of 50s Pop.
The current incarnation of the Four Preps features co-founder and original lead singer Bruce Belland, Bob Duncan (formerly with the Diamonds and the Crew Cuts), Michael Redman (of the Crew Cuts), and Jim Armstrong. Their shows are currently an amalgamation of singing everything from doo-wop to Tin Pan Alley standards and comedy.
- Bruce Belland, lead vocals (born October 22, 1936, Chicago, Illinois)
- Ed Cobb, bass (born February 28, 1938; died September 19, 1999)
- Marv Ingram, high tenor (born Marvin Inabnett July 29, 1938; died March 7, 1999)
- Glen A. Larson, baritone (born January 3, 1937 Los Angeles, California; died November 14, 2014)
The four original members were students at Hollywood High School and were signed to a recording contract by Capitol Records, after one of Capitol's executives saw them at a talent show at that school in 1956. They had a minor chart hit that year with "Dreamy Eyes" and between 1956 and 1964 reached the Billboard pop charts with 13 different songs. In 1957 they appeared with Lindsay Crosby, who was Bing Crosby's son, in the television special The Edsel Show.
Their biggest hit was "26 Miles (Santa Catalina)," which was written by Belland and Larson in 1957 and reached number two early the following year. The record sold over one million copies, earning a gold disc. Around this time, Ricky Nelson appeared with them at a Hamilton High School lunch hour assembly singing "Blue Moon of Kentucky".
Belland and Larson also wrote "Big Man", which reached number three in 1958. In the United Kingdom, it peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart, thus becoming the group's biggest hit there. The pair also composed new lyrics for the older tune "Down by the Station", which peaked at number 13 in 1960. Cobb wrote a handful of songs for the group, though not any of their chart hits; Cobb later became a noted writer and/or producer of hit material for other artists, especially The Standells' "Dirty Water", Brenda Holloway's "Every Little Bit Hurts" and Gloria Jones' "Tainted Love," later recorded by Soft Cell. Many Four Preps records were arranged by their high school friend and piano accompanist Lincoln Mayorga.
The group was known for its family-friendly comedic humor in live performances. In 1960, they recorded a parody single, "More Money for You and Me," which included single parody verses of several popular songs by The Fleetwoods, The Hollywood Argyles, The Platters, The Four Freshmen, The Kingston Trio and Dion and the Belmonts. The title parody, sung to the tune of "Tom Dooley," went like this:
- Hang down the Kingston Trio,
- Hang 'em from a tall oak tree;
- Eliminate the Kingston Trio;
- More money for you and me.
In 1962, they released another novelty record "The Big Draft", where they "suggest" a couple of American groups to go drafting themselves by parodying their songs. The record once again included single parody verses from popular hits of the day, this time from The Platters, The Four Aces, The Marcels, The Highwaymen (the folk band), and Dion (who split with the Belmonts in 1960).
Both "More Money for You and Me" and "The Big Draft" were recorded live.
The group last appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1964, when "A Letter to The Beatles" charted for a total of three weeks beginning March 21, peaking at number 85 before being pulled from sale. Like most other folk revival groups, the arrival of The Beatles, along with the rest of the British Invasion, coincided with the decline of the Four Preps. In 1966, David Somerville, formerly of The Diamonds, joined the group, replacing Ingram. In 1969, the group disbanded, as their type of music had become less popular. Belland and Somerville occasionally performed as a duo after the breakup.
Belland continued writing songs for other singers, as well as writing television show scripts, eventually becoming a network executive. Belland was a producer on several game shows in the 1970s for Ralph Edwards Productions. Cobb became a record producer and sound engineer. He composed and produced the top-twenty hit, "Dirty Water" for The Standells in 1966 with Cobb; "Every Little Bit Hurts " for Brenda Holloway; "Tainted Love" for Gloria Jones, which became a worldwide hit for Soft Cell in 1982. Somerville went into television acting and providing voice-overs. Larson became a television producer/writer/director, creating Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider and variety television series; he and Somerville would reunite to collaborate on the song "Unknown Stuntman," the theme song to another one of Larson's TV series, The Fall Guy. Ingram became a commodities broker. Clarke became a music teacher at Glendora High School. Don Clarke was a music director at Mark Keppel High School, Alhambra, California, from 1965 to 1967.
In the 1980s, Belland, Cobb, Somerville, and Jim Pike (formerly of the Lettermen) eventually formed a new "Four Preps" group and went on to perform. Jim Yester, formerly of The Association, replaced Pike in 1993, and the group became the "New Four Preps".
Yester, Belland and Somerville then recorded and toured for a short time as “Triple Gold – The Three Tenors of Pop” and then moved on to pursue individual opportunities. In 2004 PBS asked Bruce to put together a one shot version of the Four Preps for “Magic Moments”, a PBS Special saluting the hit makers of the 1950s. Bruce, Glen Larson, Jim Yester and David Somerville performed on that show as The Four Preps and the program has become one of Public television’s biggest fund raisers. Somerville died on July 14, 2015.
Belland's daughters, Tracey Bryn Belland and Melissa Brooke Belland, followed in their father's footsteps as singers, forming a group named Voice of the Beehive.
|Year||Titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
b/w "Fools Will Be Fools"
|75||The Four Preps|
|1957||"Moonstruck in Madrid"
b/w "I Cried a Million Tears"
b/w "Where Wuz You" (Non-album track)
|"Promise Me Baby"
b/w "Again 'n' Again 'n' Again"
|"Band of Angels"
b/w "How About That" (from The Four Preps)
|1958||"26 Miles (Santa Catalina)"
b/w "It's You"
|2||6||The Four Preps|
b/w "Stop Baby" (Non-album track)
|3||9||2||Down by the Station|
(Later retitled Early in the Morning)
|"Lazy Summer Night"
b/w "Summertime Lies"
b/w "Gidget" (Non-album track)
|1959||"She Was Five and He Was Ten"
b/w "The Riddle of Love" (Non-album track)
b/w "Try My Arms" (Non-album track)
|"I Ain't Never"
b/w "Memories, Memories"
|"Down by the Station"
b/w "Listen Honey (I'll Be Home)"
|1960||"Got a Girl"
b/w "(Wait Till You) Hear It from Me" (Non-album track)
|24||28||The Four Preps on Campus|
b/w "The Sand and the Sea" (from Dancing and Dreaming)
|"I've A'ready Started In"
b/w "Gone Are the Days"
|"Dream Boy, Dream"
|"More Money for You and Me" (medley)
b/w "Swing Down Chariot"
|17||4||39||The Four Preps on Campus|
|"Once Around the Block"
b/w "The Seine"
|1962||"The Big Draft" (medley)
b/w "Suzy Cocroach"
|"Good Night Sweetheart"
b/w "Hi Ho Anybody Home"
|"Oh Where, Oh Where"
b/w "Demons and Witches" (Non-album track)
|Songs for a Campus Party|
|"I'm Falling in Love with a Girl (I Shouldn't Fall in Love with)""
b/w "The Greatest Surfer Couple"
|1964||"A Letter to the Beatles"
b/w "College Cannonball" (from Campus Confidential)
|"I've Known You All My Life"
b/w "What Kind of Bird Is That"
|"The Girl Without a Top"
b/w "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right"
|"My Love, My Love"
b/w "How to Succeed in Love"
|1965||"I'll Set My Love to Music"
|"I'll Never Be the Same"
b/w "Our First American Dance"
|1966||"Something to Remember You By"
b/w "Annie in Her Granny"
|"Let's Call It a Day Girl"
b/w "The Girl in the Shade of a Striped Umbrella"
|1967||"Love of the Common People"
b/w "What I Don't Know Can't Hurt Me"
|"Draft Dodger Rag"
- Wilkerson, DeeAnna (August 29, 2017). "The Four Preps bring 1960s tunes to Sun City". Bluffton Today. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 91. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Ricky Nelson interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
- Lincoln Mayorga at Black Cat Rockabilly. Accessed January 26, 2010.
- IMDB.com. Accessed March 25, 2012.
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 258. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 513. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "THE FOUR PREPS BIO". thefourpreps.com.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 210. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.