Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders

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Introduction to Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders

Terry Gilkyson was an American folk singer-songwriter who had written or co-written a lot of tunes for other artists. They include Dean Martin, the Brothers Four, Frankie Laine and Gale Storm. As far as Gilkyson’s own recording career is concerned, he formed his own act The Easy Riders along with Dehr and Miller. Their band’s full name was Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders. They only had one hit, “Marianne,” which went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in during the mid-50s music scene. Gilkyson left the band to pursue other interests and occupations including writing music for both film and television – he would be nominated for an Oscar in 1968 for composing the song “The Bear Necessities” for the film The Jungle Book.  In 1999, Gilkyson died at the age of 83, in Austin, Texas.

Who was Terry Gilkyson?

Terry Gilkyson was born Hamilton H. Gilkyson on June 17, 1916 n Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. He was an American folk singer, composer and lyricist best remembered for forming the American pop rock/ folk group Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders, as well as for his songs he wrote for other artists.

Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders

After years of being active recording and writing songs for other artists, Gilkyson founded the group which he called The Easy Riders. It was a 3-piece band comprised of himself, Richard Dehr and Frank Miller.

With the help of their manager Mitch Miller, Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders were signed to Columbia Records in 1956. Later that year, they released their debut single for Columbia called “Marianne.” Performed and written by the band, “Marianne” became their only major hit, registering on #4 on the Billboard chart. It sold over a million copies and was given a gold disc.  In 1957, it also became a hit for the vocal group The Hilltppers who made the song into a #3 Billboard pop hit.

Another song written by Gilkyson, Dehr and Miller became popular and has been remade in different versions called “Memories Are Made of This.” One of the best known versions was popularized by Dean Martin which was backed by his band. It was also adapted as an anthem for the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Other works by Gilkyson, and his personal life

He wrote “The Cry Of The Wild Goose” which became a #1 hit for Frankie Laine in 1950; “Tell Me A Story” (#4 hit for Jimmy Boyd and Frankie Laine); “Memories Are Made Of These” (written with Richard Dehr and Frank Miller and a #1 hit for Dean Martin as well as #5 hit for Gale Storm); “Love Is A Golden Ring” (written with Dehr and Miller and a #10 hit for Frankie Laine); and “Greenfields” (also written with Dehr and Miller, a #2 hit for The Brothers Four).

Gilkyson left the band and work for Disney Studios. He wrote the song for the 1967 film The Jungle Book, called “The Bear Necessities” which was nominated for the Academy Awards by that time.

Gilkyson died on October 15, 1999 while visiting his family in Austin, Texas. His son and daughter Tony Gilkyson and Eliza Gilkyson are also musicians, and their sibling Nancy also held the position as vice president of Warner Bros. for two decades.

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