THE FLEETWOODS

thefleetwoods

Olympia, Washington high school students Gary Troxel and Gretchen Christopher were waiting for a ride home after classes when Gary started humming “Dum dum, domby doo wha…” Gretchen noticed that that was the same chord progression she had used in writing “Come Softly,” a tune she had just completed. She asked him to slow down the tempo and then sang her song over Troxel’s humming. After Gretchen’s singing partner Barbara Ellis, liked the results, the three formed a trio called Two Girls and a Guy and began singing together around school. Six months later the group recorded their song acapella for local DJ Bob Reisdorff’s Dolphin Records, a label he formed simply to release the trio’s music. The only percussion heard on the track was the sound of Gary shaking his car keys in his closed hand. All the other instrumentation was dubbed in later.

How did Two Girls and a Guy get renamed The Fleetwoods? Reisdorff suggested they go with a more commercial name and as all three shared the “Fleetwood” telephone exchange, the trio’s first single came out with that was their new group name. After “Come Softly To Me” became locally popular,
Dolton Records bought the master and released the single worldwide, turning it into a #1 million-seller.

Far from being a one-hit wonder, The Fleetwoods went on to score ten more times with tracks like “Graduation’s Here,” “Outside My Window,” “Runaround,” “Tragedy,” “(He’s The) Great Impostor,” “Goodnight My Love” and “Lovers By Night, Strangers By Day.” They even scored a second #1 hit even bigger than “Come Softly To Me” with “Mr. Blue” in 1959.

Gary Troxel, who’d joined the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1956, eventually had to bow out of the group in order to fulfill his obligations to go on active duty. Filling in for him on live dates after that point was an up-and-coming young crooner named Vic Dana, who later also filled in for missing members of The Lettermen. Vic himself racked up some 15 hits as a soloist between 1961 and 1970, such as “Shangri-La,” “I Love You Drops” and “Red Roses For a Blue Lady,”