Along with the Grodes, the Dearly Beloved were Tucson, AZ's top group in the mid-'60s. They started out in 1963 as a surf music combo called the Intruders, who were heavily influenced by the Ventures, and added singer Larry Cox to their lineup in early 1964. The Intruders cut one single, "Everytime It's You" b/w "Let Me Stay," as a result of winning a battle of the bands contest. The single wasn't much, although it had a vaguely Beatlesque quality and showed a band with a lot of potential, and this was borne out by their local reputation -- by the spring of 1964 they were one of the hottest bands in Tucson. The quintet was forced to change their name when they learned that there was a vocal group of the same name based in Detroit -- they existed very briefly as the Quinstrells and then, at the behest of Dan Gates, a local disc jockey and producer-manager who came in to help guide the group's fortunes, they became the Dearly Beloved.
The group broke out of Tucson in 1966, playing clubs as far away as Los Angeles and teen fairs throughout the west and southwest. They also cut a strange novelty single, "Peep Peep Pop Pop," which had been foisted on them by Gates, which became a number one hit in Tucson when issued on the local Boyd label, which got Columbia Records interested in the band. A Columbia version of the single was issued and scraped the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100, even getting onto American Bandstand's rate-a-record segment. They also recorded a complete album for the label that stayed in the can for 30 years. One lawsuit later, they were on White Whale, with a lot of promise before them, and then it all fell apart when Larry Cox was killed in a car crash that took place while the band was driving back to Tucson, to get Cox to his wedding the next day. The group never recovered, despite getting an unexpected regional hit out of the song "Flight 13," the B-side of their one attempt to cut a record after Cox's death.
Their seven singles are passable period pop/garage rock that don't measure up to the standards of literally hundreds of better obscure '60s garage groups throughout the country. The evidence from their unreleased Columbia LP, part of which was issued in 1997 on Dionysus Records' Tucson garage band collection Let's Talk About Girls, shows that they did have a good ear for hooks, a hard attack on their instruments that translated well in the studio, and that Cox was a strong singer. Had he lived, the Dearly Beloved might've been White Whale's answer to the Leaves. Bassist Shep Cooke went on to join the Stone Poneys briefly, before returning to the Dearly Beloved during their final days, and went on to play on albums by Tom Waits, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne. ~ Richie Unterberger & Bruce Eder