#1260: Sentimental Kid by the Four Preps
Bruce Belland was born in Chicago in 1936. In 1946 his family moved to Los Angeles. As a star-struck 15-year-old, Belland delivered newspapers to dozens of world famous celebrities over in Beverly Hills. Those on his paper route included Lucille Ball, Jimmy Stewart, Gene Kelly, Jimmy Durante, Danny Kaye, Ira Gershwin, Danny Thomas, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Burns, and Rosalind Russell. This fueled Bruce Belland’s fantasy of a show business career. Edward “Ed” Cobb was born in 1938. Marv Inabnett was born in 1938 and was professionally billed as Marv Ingram. Glen Larson was born in Los Angeles in 1937. Marv Ingram starred in some episodes of the Adventures of Ozzie And Harriet in its opening season in 1952.
In the Fall of 1954 Hollywood High School held an audition for their annual talent show. Thirty-five girls auditioned, but no boys. The next day the school bulletin pleaded for “any guys out there who can do anything.” Four boys in the school choir formed a quartet overnight and stepped into the crinoline void as The Four Preps. They consisted of tenor Bruce Belland as the lead singer, baritone Glen Larson, bass Ed Cobb and high tenor Marvin Ingram. They won the talent show hands down, after singing covers of songs by The Crew Cuts and The Four Lads.
Soon The Four Preps were getting dozens of requests to perform in public. Bruce Belland recalls, “We didn’t turn anything down. 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.”
Then, in 1956, Capitol Records Producer Voyle Gilmore, heard a tape of a live performance by the Four Preps. Gimore, who had recorded Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and others, instantly signed the Four Preps to a record deal. The contract made the Four Preps the youngest recording artists to sign with a major record label. Variety magazine nicknamed the Four Preps “Capitol’s jolly juveniles”. The group released their first single “Dreamy Eyes” in 1956, which climbed to #75 on the Billboard pop singles chart. In 1957 the Four Preps released four more singles. Non of these were commercially successful. Though, “Moonstruck In Madrid” peaked at #41 on the CKWX chart in Vancouver (BC) in February ’57.
In 1958 the group connected with the record buying public with two Top Ten hits: “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)” and “Big Man”. The first song was co-written by Bruce Belland and Glen Larson. Capitol Records finally allowed them to record the song and put it on the B-side of “It’s You”. While the A-side, which was a tune from the Broadway musical, The Music Man, was expected to be the hit, it was the B-side, “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)” that took off. Though “26 Miles” and “Big Man” would be their only Top Ten hits nationally in the USA, they became the first of five consecutive Top Ten hits in Vancouver (BC). In 1960, “Down By The Station” peaked at #5, “Got A Girl” peaked at #1 and “Sentimental Kid” climbed to #9.
“Sentimental Kid” was written by Four Preps members Bruce Belland and Glen Larson. The song is about a girlfriend who is sentimental, and makes meaning of her pairing with her boyfriend by the little things they experience together. This includes the first song that played when they met, the words her date told her when they first held each other. She recalls climbing to the top of a hill together, and saves matchbooks from restaurants they visited. While the boyfriend isn’t especially sentimental, he finds her sentimental streak adorable.
In an article titled “10 Reasons Why People Who are Sentimental Have Beautiful Lives,” Christian Maciel observes “Sentimental people are highly-conscious people. We sense everything and pay attention to everyone. We are constantly noticing the subtle differences in life, whether it’s the tinge of the blue sky or the hue of the grass in the morning. We also know when you are sad or when you’re happy. And we mention it to you. Our lives are full of experiences because nothing gets past us.” Consequently, Maciel notes that sentimental people give better gifts to friends and family, because they take the time to make the gift-giving count. Sentimental people remember others birthdays, anniversaries, and mark others accomplishments.
Other qualities of sentimental people include the capacity to forgive, to share intimacy, and to treasure memories with loved ones and close friends. Sentimental people are also great listeners. So the guy in the Four Preps song is fortunate to be dating a “Sentimental Kid” who, it turns out, he wants someday to be his “wife”.
“Sentimental Kid” climbed to #8 in Seattle, #9 in Vancouver (BC), and #10 in Salt Lake City. In 1959 The Four Preps appeared as themselves in the film Gidget.
The Four Preps continued to release 21 more singles until 1967. In 1962 they released a novelty record titled “The Big Draft” where they recommend several American pop groups to go drafting themselves by parodying their songs. The song included songs from The Platters’ “I’ll Never Smile Again”, The Four Aces’s “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing”, The Marcels’s “Heartache”, The Highwaymen’s “Michael” and Dion’s “Runaround Sue”. The Four Preps charted four more singles onto the pop charts in Vancouver (BC). Between 1961 and 1967, their most successful record in Vancouver was “A Letter To The Beatles” in March 1964.
When Ed Cobb wasn’t singing with the Four Preps, he was writing songs. He wrote “Brontosaurus Stomp”, “Piltdown Rides Again”, “Goodnight Mrs. Flintstone” and “McDonald’s Cave” for the Piltdown Men. The first single was a #10 hit in Vancouver (BC) and a #75 charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1960. The Piltdown Men’s second single climbed to #13 in Vancouver (BC) and #14 in the UK. Their third release written by Ed Cobb climbed to #18 in on the UK singles chart. “McDonald’s Cave” also made the Top 20 on the UK singles chart. Cobb also wrote “Every Little Bit Hurts” for Brenda Holloway, a #13 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964.
Also in 1964, Ed Cobb composed “Tainted Love” which was recorded the following year by soul singer Gloria Jones, with little success. However, in 1981 synth-pop band Soft Cell covered the song and it became a number one hit in Vancouver (BC) and the #11 hit for the year 1982 on the Billboard Hot 100. Cobb also penned three songs for the Standells, “Dirty Water”, “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” and “Why Pick On Me“.
By 1968 the Four Preps split up. Bruce Belland continued writing songs for other singers, as well as writing television show scripts, eventually becoming a network executive. Belland was a producer on several game shows in the 1970s for Ralph Edwards Productions. At the end of the 60s, Ed Cobb left the music business to become a champion horse breeder. Glen Larson became a TV producer, writer and director. He created Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider and variety television series including The Fall Guy. Marv Ingram became a commodities broker.
Marv Ingram died of a heart attack in 1999 at the age of 60. Ed Cobb died in 1999 at the age of 61 of leukemia. Glen Larson died of cancer at the age of 77 in 2014.
Bruce Belland, now 83, continues to perform with three newer group members of the Four Preps. He is joined by Bob Duncan, who was a former member of the Safaris, a group who had a Top Ten hit in 1960 titled “Image Of A Girl”. Duncan went on to sing on the Lawrence Welk Show, and then as a member of The Diamonds for two decades. He also joined a reformed Crew Cuts for a decade before joining the Four Preps. Michael Redman joined the Four Preps after years as a backing vocalist, as well as singer on the Lawrence Welk show, Donnie and Marie Osmond Show, and as part of a reformed member of the Crew Cuts. The newest member of the Four Preps is Jim Armstrong. He has previously sung as a backing vocalist for Debbie Reynolds, Vicki Carr and others.
According to their website, The Four Preps most recent performance was in December 2018 in Claremont, California.
December 7, 2019
“The Four Preps Bio,” Fourpreps.com.
“Bruce Belland Bio,” Brucebelland.com.
Seth Lorinczi, “They Say It’s Your Birthday: Ed Cobb,” covermesongs.com, February 25, 2018.
Christian Maciel, “10 Reasons Why People Who Are Sentimental Have Beautiful Lives,” lifehack.com.
“The Four Preps Bring 1960s Tunes to Sun City,” Bluffton Today, Bluffton, SC, August 29, 2017.
“C-FUNTASTIC FIFTY,” CFUN 1410 AM, Vancouver, BC, August 27, 1960.
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