The Four Preps
|The Four Preps|
|Origin||Los Angeles, California|
|Past members||Ed Cobb
Glen A. Larson
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," "Big Man," "Lazy Summer Night," and "Down by the Station."
The Four Preps' numerous television and motion picture appearances included four years on Ozzie and Harriet backing heartthrob Ricky Nelson and with Sandra Dee in the Gidget movie. 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 the original lead singer, Bruce Belland, Bob Duncan (formerly with the Diamonds and The Crew Cuts), Joe Dickey (of The Crew Cuts), and Skip Taylor. 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 Edward C. Cobb, February 28, 1938; died September 19, 1999)
- Marv Ingram, high tenor (born Marvin Inabnett July 29, 1938; died March 7, 1999)
- Glen Larson, baritone (born Glen Albert Larson January 3, 1937 Los Angeles, California; died November 14, 2014)
The four 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 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 #2 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 #3) and "Down by the Station", which peaked at number 13 in 1960 according to Billboard. Group member Ed Cobb also wrote a handful of Four Preps songs, 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 Soft Cell's "Tainted Love". Many Four Preps records were arranged by their high school friend and piano accompanist Lincoln Mayorga.
In 1960 they also 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.
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 #85. 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; Cobb also wrote the song; "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, creating Battlestar Galactica and Knight Rider. 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 continued performing as a trio, using their last names, doing songs that were associated with The Four Preps, The Diamonds, and The Association.
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.
- 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.