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Jerry Cole, 1939 - 2008

Guitarist made 'space-age surf music' in early 1960s

June 06, 2008|From a Times Staff Writer

Jerry Cole, a guitarist and songwriter who released several surf music albums in the 1960s and recorded with prominent bands such as the Beach Boys and the Byrds, died of a heart attack May 28 at his Corona home, said his wife, Gale. He was 68.

With his own group, the Spacemen, Cole released four albums of "space-age surf music" in just over two years, beginning with "Outer Limits" in 1963, according to the Allmusic Internet database.

Cole was a member of producer Phil Spector's Wrecking Crew studio collective, a group of musicians who played on many pop hits in the 1960s. Cole can be heard on the Beach Boys' 1966 album "Pet Sounds," the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man" single and the band Them's self-titled 1965 album.

Born Jerald Edward Kolbrak on Sept. 23, 1939, in Green Bay, Wis., Cole moved to Los Angeles and joined the Champs in 1959 after the instrumental quintet had recorded the chart-topping "Tequila." Fellow band members included Glen Campbell as well as Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts, who became successful as the duo Seals and Crofts in the 1970s.

On television, Cole led the pit bands for the mid-1960s rock-'n'-roll-oriented shows "Shindig" and "Hullabaloo." He also cut a number of instrumental rock albums under a variety of names.

Cole went in a country-rock direction after session work with Roger Miller and country singers Chuck Howard and Susie Allanson, Allmusic reported.

In 2004, Cole was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

In addition to Gale, whom he married in 1984, Cole is survived by daughters Monique and Katrina and a son, Cane.

A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. June 28 at Corona Christian Center, 1901 W. Ontario Ave., Corona.


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