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The photo below is of the original and founding members of the Rip Chords: Ernie Bringas (left) and Phil Stewart (right).  It was taken during their first concert at the Hollywood Palladium on Dec 9, 1962. The Rip Chords were formed by Ernie and Phil and, at the beginning, they were the only people in the group.

Ernie and Phil singing at the Hollywood Paladium
Founding member of The Rip Chords – Ernie Bringas and Phil Stewart (L-R)

Doris Day

A signed picture of Doris Day (below) was presented to Ernie Bringas in person when he met her!  Doris Day was the mother of Rip Chords Columbia Records producer, Terry Melcher.  The Rip Chords was Terry’s first record producing opportunity at Columbia.  Ernie, in his book, Mexican Roots, American Soil: A Quest for the American Dream, published in 2016, recalls a good memory of driving to Doris’s home to fly to a concert with Terry. Purchase from Amazon.

Signed photo of Doris Day given to Ernie Bringas
Ernie’s signed photo from Doris Day

Christmas Card from Terry Melcher to Ernie

The first Rip Chords song released by Columbia Records was “Here I Stand.” The song featured only the voices of the original Rip Chords, Ernie and Phil. “Here I Stand” rose to be a top 20 hit in many major markets including Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago. Ernie sang the lead and several falsetto parts (produced by Terry using multiple overdubs). Phil sang the base. Ernie received this Christmas card from Terry in 1963. Listen to Ernie’s multiple vocal parts as you view this card (below):

Christmas card given to Ernie, signed by Terry Melcher
Terry Melcher’s Christmas card given to Ernie after they released their first recording – Here I Stand

Listen to the beginning of “Here I Stand“:

Columbia ad in Cashbox magazine showing “Gone” –
The Rip Chords Second Release

On “Gone,” Ernie and Phil were joined vocally by Bruce Johnston, a good friend of Melcher.  Ernie, Phil and Bruce were the only three voices on this recording.

Columbia Cashbox magazine advertisement entitled Tagged For Action - featuring Gone by The Rip Chords
Columbia’s Cashbox magazine ad – Tagged For Action – featuring GONE by The Rip Chords

Johnston’s fantastic Beach Boys-oriented falsetto, complimented Ernie’s Four Seasons type falsetto.  The interjecting falsetto throughout belongs to Johnston (who later became a member of the Beach Boys). Ernie sang the lead on this song, as well as one of the falsetto parts along with Johnson.  Phil carried the low-end parts.

Listen to the beginning of “GONE“:

Newspaper Clipping from The Citizen (Inglewood edition)

This image of a newspaper clipping shows how Ernie and Phil successfully went from an A Capella choir in high school to gaining a contract with Columbia Records. The article talks about their hit single “Here I Stand” and the flip side song “Karen” which was written by Ernie and Phil.

image of newspaper clipping showing how Ernie and Phil got a recording contract
Newspaper clipping from The Citizen

The flip side song of “Here I Stand” is called “Karen.”  You’ll hear Phil singing the lead and Ernie singing harmony to the lead. Listen to the beginning of “Karen“:

Best Of The Rip Chords – Back Cover of Sundazed Release

In 2006 Sundazed released a “best of” CD that corrected much of the information about The Rip Chords. It correctly stated:

NO GROUP EPITOMIZED THE SUN-SOAKED CALIFORNIA SOUND BETTER THAN THE fabulous Rip Chords… Led by legendary producer Terry Melcher along with future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and ace-vocalists Ernie Bringas and Phil Stewart, these long-board big-guns left an indelible mark on the surf’n strip sounds of the ‘60s….

Ernie is on the right side of this CD picture.  Phil is on the left.  The two guys in the middle (Rich Rotkin and Arnie Marcus) toured with group but never recorded with the Rip Chords. This CD re-release was mastered by Bob Irwin of Sundazed Records, with historical annotation by West Coast music gurus Stephen McParland and Jud Cost.

CD insert from Best of The Rip Chords
Courtesy of Columbia – Sundazed Best Of The Rip Chords

Columbia Record Club

Remember these advertisements in your Sunday newspaper for the Columbia Record Club?  See that the two Rip Chords albums were included!  Ernie signed a recording contract with Columbia in 1962, along with Phil Stewart his singing partner, and still receives royalties for recordings of the original Rip Chords! The touring Rip Chords did not receive such royalties because they were the marketing arm of Columbia that toured instead of recording.  The second Rip Chords album is in the top left corner, and the first album is just above the bottom right side.

Columbia Record Club ad
Advertisement of Columbia Record Club

Columbia Records Headquarters – postcard

The RIP CHORDS recorded from 1962-1965 at Columbia Records in Hollywood, California.  This post card (below) is a memory from Ernie of those long-ago recording days.

The back of the post card states:  “Columbia Broadcasting System, Hollywood, California.  Here in the Hollywood headquarters of CBS, the visitor has opportunity to observe modern radio production.  The master control, sound effects, and exhibition rooms may be viewed, as well as rehearsals ad broadcasts by many stars.

Postcard photo of CBS from the '60s
Postcard of CBS from the '60s

Youth Fellowship Banquet

The picture below is entitled “Hamming It Up.” Here, Ernie Bringas kidded around and showed off the rock ‘n’ roll style at a Youth Fellowship banquet.  He was the speaker at this banquet, and was in demand as an original Rip Chord.  That pic was taken in January 1965.

newspaper picture of Ernie speaking at a youth banquet

The website captures the true story of the RIP CHORDS, from one of the two original RIP CHORDS, Ernie Bringas. Please take a moment to visit the main page, and read how the RIP CHORDS started, recorded, and evolved.

Ernie Bringas AuthorHomestead & Wolfe