…featuring Original Lead
Singer BRUCE BELLAND
The sound of any great vocal
group is ultimately defined by the voice of its Lead Singer. In the case
of THE FOUR PREPS, that voice belongs to BRUCE BELLAND who Co-founded the
Preps in 1954 while still in high school and has been their front man ever
since. Bruce is the only original member heard on every Four Preps track
Over five decades he's become
what one critic called "that rare creature - an Original Lead Singer from
the Fab. 50's who can still bring audiences to their feet."
It all began in the Fall
of 1954 when 35 girls and not one boy showed up to audition for the annual
Hollywood High student talent show. The next day the school bulletin pleaded
for "any guys out there who can do anything" and a show business tale of
Unable to resist such amorously
appealing odds, four talented and highly motivated boys in the school choir,
Lead Singer Bruce Belland, baritone Glen Larson, bass Ed Cobb and high
tenor Marvin Ingram, literally formed a quartet overnight and stepped into
the crinoline void as THE FOUR PREPS.
After stealing the show with
choice hits by their idols, The Crew Cuts and The Four Lads, they quickly
found themselves in demand for every kind of event imaginable.
"We didn't turn anything
down", Bruce remembers. "We once performed on the back of a flatbed truck
for the opening of a parking lot. They paid us $75.00; enough to buy gas
and our first matching sport coats. We were totally stoked."
In 1956 legendary Capitol
Records Producer Voyle Gilmore, who recorded stars like Judy Garland, Frank
Sinatra and Louie Prima & Keely Smith, heard a tape of a live performance
by the Preps and signed them to a long term recording contract. At the
time the Preps were the youngest act ever to sign with a major record label.
(In an article about their signing, Variety dubbed them "Capitol's jolly
They quickly became a favorite
of the nation's disc jockeys and soon their voices blanketed the airwaves.
As 1957 began, Cashbox honored them as "the most promising Newcomer of
the Year." and critics began to praise their distinctive sound – and Bruce's
Lead - as "fresh", "clean", "bracing", "warm" and "rich" which inspired
Capitol to renew their contract for a second year while searching for that
elusive hit record.
Their first national television
exposure came on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett" playing singing
fraternity brothers of their former HHS classmate Ricky Nelson. That led
to their first national tour with Nelson which began the same week LIFE
magazine coined the term "Teen Idol" under Rick's picture on its cover.
That SOLD OUT tour created a publicity tsunami for the four talented newcomers.
Shortly after the boys returned
to Hollywood, "26 Miles" (written by Bruce and Glen) hit the airwaves and
their young lives were changed forever. That million-selling song (9 million
at last count) about the "island of romance" became what Dick Clark called
"the first surfer hit" and took the Pop world by storm. (In their recent
biographies, both Jimmy Buffett and Brian Wilson cite that Preps classic
as their enduring teenage influence).
Bruce and the Preps were
soon featured in LIFE magazine, on countless Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand
Shows and capped it off by being honored as "Newcomer of the Year" in Billboard
Magazine and signing for an engagement at the world famous Coconut Grove
a scant 24 months after attending there as high school prom goers.
Their superstar status was
confirmed when they Co-Starred in an Award-winning TV Special with Bing
Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Rosemary Clooney and Louie Armstrong and
then in the first surfer film, "Gidget" opposite Sandra Dee, James Darren
and Academy Award winner Cliff Robertson.
In 1962 The Preps' career
took another quantum leap with their first LIVE concert album, "The Four
Preps on Campus" which soared to the top of the charts. One track, "More
Money for You and Me", highlighted the Preps' uncanny vocal parodies of
other groups and became a Top Ten single that the nation's DJs voted "the
novelty record of the year".
That first LIVE album was
followed by two more in their legendary "On Campus Series, "Four Preps
- Campus Encore" and "Four Preps - Campus Confidential" making them the
only group of their genre to ever record three consecutive "LIVE IN PERSON"
For three straight years
in the mid 60's, The Four Preps were the country's Number One College Concert
Attraction, touring in their own 13 passenger plane and averaging 150 campus
concerts a year. They went on to headline in Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe,
Atlantic City, the Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theater and other prestigious
venues across North America, and throughout Europe and Asia, prompting
Variety to describe their sold out live performances as "all the rage these
In 1969 after a successful
15 year collaboration, the original Four Preps: Belland, Ingram, Larson
and Cobb, disbanded to pursue other highly successful individual careers
in the entertainment industry.
BRUCE BELLAND - who co-wrote
the Preps' hits, has created songs for Willie Nelson, Johnny Mathis, Roy
Clark, T.G. Shepherd, Sammy Davis, Lena Horne, Donny Osmond, Della Reese,
Herman's Hermits, The Mouseketeers and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and
written special material for Johnny Carson, Chevy Chase, Bob Newhart, Tim
Conway, Steve Allen and the Smothers Brothers as well as feature films,
numerous TV screenplays and theatrical productions including two on Broadway.
As Producer of over 1,000 hours of TV, including "Name That Tune" and "Truth
or Consequences", he's been a three time Emmy nominee, senior NBC programming
executive and done voices for many animated features including the Disney
classic, "Jungle Book". As Co-Author of the Official Anthem of the Bi-
centennial of the U.S. Constitution, he was awarded the Freedom Foundation's
Presidential Medal of the Arts and cited in the Congressional Record.
In 1989, at Dick Clark's
suggestion, Bruce and Ed Cobb re-formed The Four Preps with David Somerville
of The Diamonds and Jim Pike of the Lettermen (who was subsequently replaced
by Jim Yester of The Association.) That foursome toured and recorded until
Cobb retired in 1997. (Ed Cobb died in 1999 as did original high tenor
Recently PBS asked Bruce
to re-assemble a version of The Four Preps for the star-studded musical
special "Magic Moments" featuring legendary hit makers: Pat Boone, Patti
Page, Debbie Reynolds, The McGuire Sisters, The Chordettes, The Platters,
The Four Preps and their high school idols... The Crew Cuts and The Four
Lads. Over 100 million viewers have watched that history-making Special
which started a groundswell of demand for a full blown Four Preps concert
It became clear that, despite
occasional personnel changes in the other three voices, Bruce's distinctive
style and sound - which once inspired Ed Sullivan to introduce The Preps
as "the greatest recording group in the country" - has garnered a legion
of fans that still remain loyal many decades later.
As the only original member
of The Four Preps still actively performing, Bruce loved the idea of going
back on tour and once again singing Lead in a great harmony ensemble. So
now there's a new touring version of The Four Preps strolling millions
of Oldies lovers back down memory lane with the distinctive song stylings
of the voice that has defined their music from the start.
Meet today's other Preps:
BOB DUNCAN high tenor, is
one of the harmony world's most successful and seasoned performers. He
first launched his vocal career with The Safaris' hit "Image of a Girl"
then sang with The Ray Coniff Singers, The Jubillaires gospel quartet and
the Blenders on Lawrence Welk's television show for many seasons. He went
on to star with The Diamonds for twenty years and with The Crew Cuts for
almost a decade before joining Bruce in The Four Preps.
MICHAEL REDMAN baritone has,
over five decades, performed and recorded with Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand,
Elvis Presley, Henry Mancini, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers and on TV classics
The Smothers Brothers, Donnie and Marie and Lawrence Welk. He's on movie
soundtracks for "Annie", Blues Brothers", "Big", "Lonesome Dove", "Apocalypse:
Now", and "Oh God, Books I, II And III". Until joining The Four Preps,
he was a key member of The Crew Cuts.
SKIP TAYLOR – the youngest
of the Preps – (Bruce quips "I have tuxedos that are older.) is what the
other Preps like to call "our baby bass"- all six foot three of him – and
has established himself as the ever dependable anchor on the bottom with
his amazing bass chops. He's enjoyed success in the broadcast industry,
appeared in countless theatrical productions and held down the bottom slot
in Bob Duncan's Crew Cuts before joining The Preps.