The Four Preps

Introduction to The Four Preps

The Four Preps are an American pop vocal group hailing from Los Angeles, California, where they formed during the mid-50s music era. They would sometimes inject their repertoire with elements of comedy, thus creating novelty songs. The original lineup consisted of lead vocalist Bruce Belland, Ed Cobb (bass), Marv Ingram (high tenor) and Glen Larson (baritone). All of them were students at Hollywood High School where they took part at campus talent show. At this point they were discovered by a Capitol Records executive, who eventually got the four boys signed into the label. They named themselves as The Four Preps. Their first charting single was “Dreamy Eyes” which entered the Hot 100 as a minor hit. Their first and biggest hit came almost two years later with “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)” at #2 on the Hot 100. It was followed later that year by another Top 10 hit “Big Man.” Aside from these singles, The Four Preps also achieved a few more other Top 40 hits such as “Lazy Summer Night,” “Down by the Station” and their parody single “More Money for You and Me.” Their last charting single was “A Letter to the Beatles” in 1964. The Four Preps split up 1969, despite change in the lineup. In 1999, two of the original members (Cobb and Ingram) both died but in separate incidents and different causes. The current lineup features the only one original member left, Bruce Belland, and is rounded off by new members Bob Duncan (who was once with the Crew Cuts and the Diamonds), Joe Dickey (who also has performed with the Crew Cuts), and Skip Taylor. Larson also died in 2014.

Meet The Four Preps

Known mainly with their hit songs “Big Man” and “26 Miles (Santa Catalina),” The Four Preps were an American pop band consisted of lead vocals Bruce Belland (born on October 22, 1936, Chicago Illinois), bassist Ed Cobb (Edward C. Cobb, born on February 28, 1938 – died on  September 19, 1999), high tenor Marv Ingram (Marvin Inabnett, born on July 29, 1938 – died on March 7, 1999) and baritone Glen Larson (Glen Albert Larson, born on January 3, 1937 – died on November 14, 2014).

The Four Preps making hits

Starting as schoolmates at Hollywood High School, the young men joined a talent show held at their school in 1956. There, they were spotted by an executive of Capitol Records who offered them a record deal. Later that year, The Four Preps a minor hit with their debut single “Dreamy Eyes” which registered moderately at #75 on the national chart.

In January 1958, their sophomore single was released called “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)” that would become one of their major hits.  Written by Belland and Larson in 1957, it reached #2 and #6 on the pop and R&B charts respectively. The song also sold over one million copies and earned a gold disc. A notable moment happened for the Four Preps that time when actor and musician Ricky Nelson joined them on a lunch hour assembly performance at Hamilton High School where they sang “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

Months after the release of “26 Miles,” The Four Preps broke through with their most successful single called “Big Man.” Another composition by Belland and Larson, “Big Man” peaked at #3 on the US pop chart while it was a bigger hit in the UK, making to #2 on the Singles chart. Further pop hit singles was issued from 1958 to late 1961 including “Lazy Summer Night” (#21), “Down by the Station” (#13), “Got a Girl” (#24), and “More Money for You and Me” (#17). The group also had a movie appearance in 1959’s Gidget.

The Four Preps’ disbandment, reunions and later careers

After releasing their final single “A Little to The Beatles” in 1966, Ingram left the group and he was replaced by former Diamonds member David Somerville. The group later disbanded in 1969. However, the two Preps, Belland and Somerville continued performing as a duo.

Belland and Cobb had successful careers; Belland worked for other acts as a composer. He also became a scriptwriter for television shows and later, a network executive. Cobb became a record producer and sound engineer and also continued penning hit songs like The Standells’ “Dirty Water,” (1966), Brenda Holloway “Every Little Bit Hurts” (1964) and Gloria Jones’ “Tainted Love” (1964). In 1982, “Tainted Love” later became a worldwide hit. The song was covered by British synthpop group Soft Cell.

A reincarnation of the Four Preps was launched in the 1980’s. The formation consisted of Belland, Cobb, Somerville, and Jim Pike, former member of The Lettermen. In 1993, the group performed as The New Four Preps, replacing Pike with the former Association member Jim Yester.

In March 1999 Ingram died of heart attack, while Cobb passed away the following September.  Incorporating surnames, Yester, Belland and Somerville continued to perform as a trio. Larson died of esophageal cancer in 2014.