Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It Was 50 Years Ago Today: Hey Little Cobra

Backed by the famed Wrecking Crew studio musicians, vocalists Phil Stewart and Ernie Bringas were officially The Rip Chords; however, their recordings included two unofficial members, Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher. While the surf band had five singles to chart within the Hot 100, only two made it to the Top 40: “Three Window Coupe,” charting at #28, and “Hey Little Cobra,” which peaked at #4.

In fact, “Hey Little Cobra” peaked on the charts exactly 50 years ago this week. The song champions the Shelby Cobra racing car which, at the time, was giving the Chevy Corvette a run for the money. The single was produced by Melcher and Johnston.

At the time, Melcher, the son of Doris Day, was the youngest producer at Columbia Records. His partner in crime, Bruce Johnston, would later become a member of another surf band, The Beach Boys.

Although The Rip Chords had four lead vocalists, Terry Melcher sang lead on “Hey Little Cobra” and its flip side “The Queen.” In addition, there is every indication that only Terry Melcher and Bruce Johnston appeared on this record as vocalists and the single was issued in the band’s name only even though no official member of The Rip Chords contributed to its success.

However, the corresponding LP, “Hey Little Cobra and Other Hot Rod Hits,” featured all four men on vocals. To compound the issue of the identity of the band, Phil Stewart and two other vocalists (Rich Rotkin and Arnie Marcus) represented the touring group of The Rip Chords. Despite who sang “Hey Little Cobra,” it was quite a feat for a band to make the Top Five during the height of Beatlemania.


  1. Lots of people think this is Jan & Dean.
    Great blog.
    Keep it up.

  2. You are correct. Thanks for visiting and for your comments.