DEAR JERRY: Bravo! Your interview with Dave Nolan cleared up the Survivors' "Pamela Jean" mystery.
I have just one lingering whodunit: to what extent were the Beach Boys involved with Paul Petersen's "She Rides With Me," other than it being co-written (with Roger Christian) and produced by Brian Wilson.
Marcie Stover, Medford, Ore.
DEAR MARCIE: Just as no one knew the "Pamela Jean" story better than Dave Nolan, the most reliable source of info on "She Rides With Me" is Paul Petersen.
Paul, who is also a published author, refers to this chapter in his life as "Whaaat? Brian Wilson wrote a song for ME?"
Fortunately, Paul is a good friend who is always willing to chat about his well-rounded entertainment career. So I called him with your question, and here are his off-the-cuff comments:
"Long before 'She Rides With Me,' the Beach Boys were a Hawthorne garage band, well-known to those of us living in southern California. They already had a local reputation, and soon tremendous success, which I welcomed.
"I knew all the guys in the band, but aside from a few hit records and the Donna Reed Show, what they really liked was my love for cars, and some of the fast cars that I owned, especially my Shelby Cobra 289.
"While I was ringing in the new year (1964) in Las Vegas, I got a call from record producer Lou Adler, who revealed that he was about to marry Shelley Fabares, who played my sister on the Donna Reed Show.
"Then he said 'I want you to come home right away to record. Brian Wilson just wrote a car song for you.'
"Goodbye New Year's Eve party, I was on the next flight to L.A. I landed and went right to the studio. Brian was there waiting for me, and he sang and played 'She Rides With Me,' which I loved, especially when he added the organ. I have to tell you, Jerry, that above all else it was a hell of a good song!
"I was really impressed with Brian. He was not only producing, he was playing and making sure the sound was right. It was a fun afternoon!
"As for who sang or played on that session, Brian is the only Beach Boy that I recall. He did have some of L.A.'s top studio musicians on hand. I especially remember Glen Campbell on guitar, and Hal Blaine on drums. Tommy Tedesco (guitar), Carol Kaye (bass), and Plas Johnson (sax) may have been there. We didn't know it then, but these players would later become world famous as the 'Wrecking Crew.' And I think the Blossoms, featuring Darlene Love, were on nearly every track that any of us kids did. Those girls were real pros. They helped us a lot, especially when we weren't sure of ourselves.
"The session info is out there somewhere. Both Goldstar and United Recorders should have all the work sheets that were turned in to Local 47, the Musicians Union of Hollywood. They would list all the players.
"Except for doing 'She Rides With Me' with Brian Wilson, all my sessions were led by Stu Phillips. He also produced hundreds of sessions for Colpix (Columbia Pictures' label), including everything on Colpix by Shelley Fabares, the Marcels, James Darren, the Ronettes, Jimmy Beaumont, the Skyliners, plus Stu's own orchestral recordings.
"Looking back, I think one thing that stood in the way of 'She Rides With Me' being a major success was my reputation. No one expected that out of someone whose biggest hits were 'She Can't Find Her Keys' and 'My Dad.'
"Speaking of 'My Dad,' here's something most people don't know. When Barry Mann and his wife, Cynthia, came in and played it for me and Stu, Barry explained that he wrote it after his father died. Listening to it brought tears to us both.
"We made one change to the opening line. Barry wrote 'He wasn't much in the eyes of the world,' but instead of past tense we made it 'He isn't much in the eyes of the world.'
"I was thrilled that Barry and Cynthia then wrote 'Amy' and 'Hey There Beautiful' for me."
IZ ZAT SO? Like several other pop stars, Annette Funicello; Johnny Crawford; Don Grady; Britney Spears; Christina Aguilera; and Justin Timberlake among them, Paul Petersen began his career as a Mouseketeer.
Paul has the distinction of being a charter member of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Club, but he was also the first Mouseketeer to be fired. Amid much laughter, Paul recalls his mousey misfortune:
"In the spring of 1955, they held an open audition at the Disney studios. Literally, over 5,000 kids showed up.
"When my turn came, I sang and danced, and they allowed me to do my routine. What they didn't do was say 'next.' What they did do was hire me on the spot.
"I was a Mouseketeer for about seven weeks before they fired me.
"The problem was that I was an undisciplined, nine-year-old, athletic, all-American boy, and I thought the other children, many of whom were trained professionals, loved mirrors too much, and they didn't know how to throw a ball. I just didn't fit in.
"I lasted just long enough for them to open Disneyland, and promoting Walt Disney's first theme park was part of the reason for creating the Mickey Mouse Club.
"One day on the set, Lee Travers, a hefty member of the casting crew, kept calling me 'mouse,' which he knew I didn't like. So I said 'don't call me that, fatso,' and punched him in the stomach.
"Unfortunately, standing next to Mr. Travers was Mr. Walt Disney, who called me in later that day and fired me.
"I laugh about it all the time. In fact, my 10th book is titled 'Walt, Mickey, and Me: Confessions of an ex-Mouseketeer.'"