Though the band began with Bruce, Glen, Ed, and Marvin and now consists of Bruce, Bob, Skip, and Michael, The Four Preps still harmonize and comprise a vocal quartet that will erase—momentarily—all images of twerking or the contemporary sounds that some folks of a particular age and era may have a hard time acknowledging as music.
The original Four Preps were students at Hollywood High School and banded together for a talent show. Within a year, in 1956, Capital Records had signed them to a contract. Within fourteen years, they had disbanded; the members going on to become a teacher, sound engineer, television producer, and a commodities broker (just to name a few of their future professions).
But co-founder Bruce Belland has remained a Prep and revived the group with new members in the 1980s. The have a mini-sampler video on their website where they a riff on “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter Paul & Mary and the Beach Boys’ “Surfer Girl.” Jerome Kern’s “Smoke Get in Your Eyes” receives the replacement lyrics, “They asked me how I knew, our career was through…”
But one member hits the high notes during “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and Belland does pretty well with “You Belong to Me.” It’s a hoot when they all join in clapping and swinging their hips to Pete Seger’s “That Old Time Rock ‘n Roll.”
A video/audio from August 1960 is pretty good, too. President Kennedy has been in office for almost year and instituted the Peace Corps. The Four Preps sing a spoof, “More Money for You,” which admits that “there’s a rich abundance of vocal groups in the country right now,” but wishes they might take advantage of the Peace Corps’ placement of volunteers and go far, far away…
“First we have the Fleetwoods, a very successful group. I’d send ’em to Alaska to entertain our troops…”
“There’s a group that we’ve heard of that’s awful hip (alley-oop oop, hoop, hoop, hoop). We’d kinda like to send ’em on a little trip (alley-oop oop, hoop, hoop, hoop). Where they oughta go, we cannot tell (alley-oop oop, hoop, hoop, hoop), but it’s awful hot and rhymes with ‘swell.’ California?!”
The remaining original Prep, Buce Holland (below, center), co-wrote the Preps’ eight gold singles and three gold albums from the 1950s through ’70s. He’s also penned songs for a wide array of talents and styles—from Lena Horne and Willie Nelson to The Mouseketeers and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Step back in time and be lulled by the harmonies of The Four Preps. For those with fresh knees and hips, the “grassy hill” side stage will be open for swing dancing from 7-7:45 p.m.
The Four Preps
Saturday, July 26th; festival at 6:30 p.m.; concert at 8 p.m.
Levitt Pavilion Pasadena, Memorial Park, 85 E. Holly St.
For summer concert details, visit LevittPavilionPasadena.org
Other concerts this week:
Thursday, July 24th: Richard Bernard’s Oy!Stars, klezmer
Friday, July 25th: David Lindley, Americana
Sunday, July 27th: Pete Escovedo, latin jazz