Is Terry Melcher From 'Aquarius' A Real Person? The Record Producer Seems Spun From Real Life
In last Thursday's episode of the NBC crime drama Aquarius, Beach Boys member Dennis Wilson introduced Charlie Manson and his follower Emma to a record producer named Terry Melcher (played by Chase Coleman). It's a casual encounter with colossal implications, as those violent flash-forwards to the Manson Family's murder spree have shown. The second season of the show has amped up Charlie's musical aspirations, which were introduced in the series' first year. Charlie sees Dennis's friendship as an opportunity to get his own music heard by other important people. Emma was a victim of his ruthless ambition; Charlie infringed on her audition, causing her to choke in front of Melcher. Though Emma Karn is an original Aquarius character, Manson's flirtation with the music industry is based in fact. Terry Melcher was a real record producer and definitely crossed paths with the real Charles Manson.
Terry Melcher was born Terrence Jorden in 1942 to actress Doris Day, who was only 18 when she had her first and only child. He passed away in 2004 after a battle with cancer. According to his 2004 obituary in The Telegraph, Day's relationship with her first husband Al Jorden was rocky at best, so her son eventually took the name of her third husband, her agent Marty Melcher.
Terry Melcher was entered the music business in part due to the influence of his mother. The Guardian reported that Melcher started out as a singer and recorded a demo in 1961 that was well received by Columbia Records. The artist quickly found his niche behind the scenes. He composed and produced songs for The Byrds, Paul Revere & The Raiders, and for his mother's movies. Melcher and Day recorded a few duet tracks together, including the ballad "Happy Endings."
Melcher was enjoying his industry success in the late '60s when he was leasing a home with Mark Lindsay, the lead singer of Paul Revere & The Raiders, according to the Midland-Reporter Telegram. They shared a house on Cielo Drive in Los Angeles; on the night of August 9, 1969, members of the Manson Family murdered five people at that very address, including actress Sharon Tate. Lindsay and Melcher were not living there at the time.
Some believe that Melcher was the Family's intended target during the Cielo Drive home invasion. Per The Guardian, there had been an alleged record deal between Melcher and Manson after they met through Wilson, but nothing ever came to fruition. However, Melcher's former roommate Lindsay claimed to the Midland-Reporter Telegram that Manson was aware that Melcher no longer resided at that address. Lindsay claimed the following:
"Everybody speculated that Manson sent his minions up there to get rid of Terry because he was angry about not getting a record deal. But Terry and I talked about it later and Terry said Manson knew because Manson or someone from his organization left a note on Terry's porch in Malibu."
Like many individuals who encountered Manson in that period, Melcher was branded by the experience. His Guardian obituary reported that the producer spent a few years after the massacre "in a drugged haze." He took a break from music for real estate after releasing two solo albums that failed to generate much interest. But Melcher reunited with the living members of the Beach Boys (Dennis Wilson died in 1983) in the the late '80s to co-write and produce their hit single "Kokomo," according to The Guardian. He also continued to collaborate with his mother on various projects, including a few TV variety shows. Doris Day survives her son and is in her '90s.
Image: Vivian Zink/NBC