In the Pipeline: A fitting garage tribute to beloved musician

They all gathered in a Huntington Beach garage, which was fitting, given that they were honoring a garage band legend.

On a chilly and rain-spattered morning, the men started in the kitchen, sharing stories about an old pal over pizza and beer. Then things moved out to the garage, where they literally began putting together pieces of their friend's life.

Two weeks ago, Dick Dodd passed away in Fountain Valley. Dodd was the drummer and lead vocalist of the legendary American garage band the Standells. Their seminal hit, "Dirty Water," is a rock 'n' roll classic that over the years has been embraced by Boston's professional sports teams since the song is a good and gritty ode to Beantown. But Dick Dodd was full-blooded Southern California.

Tim Ferrill became friendly with Dodd after meeting him at a surf music festival in Huntington Beach. They would hang out a lot, and Ferrill even drove Dodd to what ended up being his last gig — in June at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.

After Dodd passed away, Ferrill helped the family by storing the drummer's gear in his garage. And so on this morning, he had invited a bunch of Dodd's friends and bandmates to reminisce and, most importantly, set Dodd's drum kit up for old times' sake.

Dodd's show business career actually started in 1955 when he was cast as one of the original Mousketeers on "The Mickey Mouse Club" TV show.

One day, he paid fellow Mouseketeer Annette Funicello $20 for a snare drum, and soon after that he became a member of two surf rock bands, the Bel-Airs and Eddie & the Showman. He also performed as a dancer in the 1963 cinematic musical "Bye Bye Birdie" and appeared on other TV shows around that time.

But his heart was in rock 'n' roll, and it was that hit from his next group, the Standells, in 1965 that made Dodd a star. His punkish, sneering and bluesy delivery reminded many of Mick Jagger, and the Standells actually wound up touring with the Rolling Stones in 1966.

Dodd left the band in 1968 and continued to perform over the years in various reunion versions of the Standells, along with many other bands that he put together.

In the garage, the stories flowed easily and with much good spirit. There were tales of Dodd touring with the Stones and working with many showbiz legends, including Jack Benny and Phil Spector.

Keyboard player Kit Potamkin spoke about how thrilling it was to get the call earlier this year inviting him to join Dodd's new band.

"He was a hero of mine when I first heard the Standells in the mid-'60s," Potamkin shared. "I thought it was a practical joke when the voice on the line said this is Dick Dodd. But then he became ill with cancer, and it just wasn't meant to be. Still, getting to know him was something I'll never forget."

Guitarist John Blair, who wrote "The Illustrated Discography of Surf Music," also played with Dodd and had wanted to help write his memoir before he died.

Matt Quilter (whose brother founded Quilter amps) was also there, along with drummer Bruce McCoy, drummer Dusty Watson and sax player Bob Knight, one of the last original members of Eddie & the Showman. And all spoke fondly of Dodd.

The sun finally broke through, and as soon as Tim opened his garage door, Mary Espinosa arrived. She too was an original Mousketeer on "The Mickey Mouse Club," and she recalled her special friendship with Dodd, which started in 1955.

"We were the only two Hispanic kids on the original 1955 show," she said. "So we had a strong bond early on. But after we became friends and left the show, it was always so thrilling to watch what Dick did in his musical career. He was a very special man and of course he is missed by many.

"But when you see all of these friends here in the garage putting his drum kit together, it's kind of like he's still here with us."

Ferrill told me that he and the gang are planning a special memorial show for March. I'll let you know more details as they happen.

Stepping back and listening to this group of friends recount so many incredible musical memories, I realized what a moment this was: decades of surf music and rock 'n' roll history coming together one Saturday morning to remember a friend by setting up the last drum kit he ever played on.

Their stories brought to life not just one lost friend but an entire era of Southern California music, music that was born in the waves, kissed by the sun and scented with summer.

Dick Dodd, may you rest in peace, knowing that your friends will always keep your music playing, your memory alive and your drum kit polished and ready.

CHRIS EPTING is the author of 19 books, including the new "Baseball in Orange County," from Arcadia Publishing. You can chat with him on Twitter @chrisepting or follow his column at

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