Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Sometime in the '50s we went to a dinner house in Detroit and saw the Four Preps perform. One of the songs they did was about “26 miles to Santa Catalina Island.”

What year did this tune come out? How many hits did they have in their career? Also, what school did they attend?
—Daniel Dula, New Port Richey, Fla. (

DEAR DANIEL: Living up to their name, Bruce Belland, Ed Cobb, Glen Larson and Marvin Ingraham were, in the mid-'50s, four preps — teen friends attending high school in Hollywood, Calif.

Their first hit, a cover version of the Youngsters' “Dreamy Eyes,” came in 1956, and did well, but their next release, “26 Miles (Santa Catalina),” became their biggest ever, reaching No. 2 nationally in mid-March of 1958. Only Elvis Presley's “Don't” ranked above the Four Preps that week.

The Four Preps' third hit, “Big Man,” did nearly as well, peaking at No. 3. Also among their 13 total chart hits are: “Lazy Summer Night” (1958); “Down By the Station” (1959); “Got a Girl” (1960); “More Money for You and Me” (1961); and “The Big Draft” (1962). Their last chart hit is one of the first Beatles novelties played in the U.S., “A Letter to the Beatles,” from early 1964 of course.

Those who saw the Four Preps perform in concert, such as yourselves, know that humor and impressions were an important part of their show.

Their hits “More Money for You and Me” and “The Big Draft,” recorded during separate concerts at North Hollywood High School, included the Preps' excellent vocal imitations of: The Fleetwoods (“Mr. Blue”), Hollywood Argyles (“Alley Oop”), Platters (“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and “I'll Never Smile Again”), Four Freshmen (“In This Whole Wide World”), Kingston Trio (“A Worried Man” and “Tom Dooley”), Dion & the Belmonts (“A Teenager in Love”), Four Aces (“Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing”), Dick & Dee Dee (“The Mountain's High”), Marcels (“Heartaches”), Highwaymen (“Michael”), and Dion (“Runaround Sue”).

DEAR JERRY: I know your column usually pertains to the records themselves, but I am hopeful you will be able to help me.

I am completely unable to find a replacement needle for my phonograph. Can you point me in the right direction?
—Lester L. Spangler, Orting, Wash.

DEAR LESTER: I have bought replacement cartridges and supplies from Audio Advisor, of 4717 Broadmoor SE, Suite A, Kentwood, MI 49512, who may also be reached at (800) 942-0220, or online at

Happy tracking!

DEAR JERRY: My husband and I are both avid readers of yours so we agreed to let you solve an argument that rears its ugly head every time we hear “Groovin',” by the Rascals.

I say that Mama Cass is singing in the background. My hubby says that it's probably just a studio singer. If it's not Cass, I lose $10 (and my reputation as a walking musical encyclopedia).
—Donna J. Nicklow, Glen Rock, Pa. (dnicklow@YNC.COM)

DEAR DONNA: Since you admit to being avid readers, you may know my feelings about saying that someone “did not” do or say something. Lacking first hand knowledge, it is nearly impossible to categorically state that certain events did not occur.

So about the best I can do is say there is absolutely no evidence or reference of any kind to indicate Mama Cass had any involvement in the Rascals session that produced “Groovin'.”

In view of this ever-so-slight bit of inconclusiveness, let's just say your walking musical encyclopedia status remains shaken but unchanged. Hubby should probably get at least half the dough.

IZ ZAT SO? In 1956, when Capitol Records signed the Four Preps to a long-term contract, the four high schoolers then became the youngest group ever signed by a major label.

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