On this day in 1916, singer-songwriter Terry Gilkyson was born in Pennsylvania. His name may not sound familiar to you - but there's a good chance you've heard his music.
Gilkyson formed a folk group called The Easy Riders with songwriting friends Rick Dehr and Frank Miller in the mid-1950s. Unlike most folk groups, they avoided political controversy and wrote and chose songs with commercial appeal. Their version of the calypso standard "Marianne" went to number 4 on the U.S. charts. One of the group's earliest penned hits was "Memories Are Made of This," made wildly popular in 1956 by Dean Martin (with The Easy Riders providing backup). The group had a few more years of commercial success including scoring the feature film The Windjammer in 1958.
As he preferred to be a songwriter over a performer, Gilkyson left the group and spent the 1960s writing ... mostly for Disney-oriented projects. (The Easy Riders continued through the decade without him.)
Gilkyson composed the song "My Heart Was An Island" for the 1960 Swiss Family Robinson, the theme for The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (first shown on Disney's television series in 1963), "The Moon-Spinners" for the 1964 feature The Moon-Spinners, and "Thomas O'Malley Cat" for the 1970 The Aristocats.
But Gilkyson will always be remembered by Disney fans for his song "The Bare Necessities" from the 1967 classic animated feature The Jungle Book. The only song from the feature not written by the Sherman Brothers, it was nominated for an Academy Award. The song is first sung in the film by Phil Harris as Baloo and Bruce Reitherman as Mowgli, and later by Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera. Supposedly "The Bare Necessities" was originally rejected for the film but later kept ... on the request of the Sherman Brothers!
Since then, many artists have recorded their own version of Gilkyson's "The Bare Necessities," including Louis Armstrong, Julie Andrews, and Bowling for Soup.
By the 1970s, Gilkyson was at a loss with the music of the day and so retired to New Mexico - living on the royalties from over 300 published songs. (His children went on to have success in the music business as well.) Terry Gilkyson passed in October 1999.
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