Skip to main content

Passings: Dick Dodd of the Standells (1945 - 2013)

Dick Dodd, who sang of Boston's Dirty Water with the Standells but was actually a native Californian, has died from cancer at the age of 68.

It was announced in October that Dodd was suffering stage four cancer of the esophagus, spleen, liver and spine.  Although he began chemotherapy on November 7, it was not able to set back the disease. He underwent emergency surgery on November 22, after which he tweeted "Survived surgery. I'm still here. No Dirty Water in the operating room."

Not only was Dodd a musician, but also was a child star. Born in Hermosa Beach, CA, he auditioned with hundreds of children for the first cast of the Mickey Mouse Club and was selected as a replacement performer.  While not a full member as was Annette or Cubby O'Brien, he did appear in a number of skits focusing on Disneyland and as a dancer.  He stayed with the show from about July 1955 to January 1956.

It was during that time that he became interested in playing drums, getting initial lessons from O'Brien who went on later in life to play with the Carpenters.

Dodd's next job was as part of the Curfew Kids on NBC's The Gisele McKenzie Show, which lasted a year, followed by two years in McKenzie's Las Vegas act.

Beginning in 1961, Dodd began playing drums in a series of bands including the Casuals, the Bel-Airs and Eddie and the Showmen.  While a member of that band, the Standells formed in Los Angeles with Jody Rich and Larry Tamblyn (brother of actor Russ Tamblyn). After some lineup changes, the band finally signed with Liberty Records; however, drummer Gary Leeds quit to become Gary Walker of the Walker Brothers, leaving an opening for Dodd to fill.

The new lineup with Dodd on lead vocals recorded three singles for Liberty, two singles for Vee Jay and one for MGM, none of which became a hit. Even without national fame, they were hired on a number of occasions for TV shows and movies including The Munsters (they played I Want to Hold Your Hand), Riot on the Sunset Strip and The Bing Crosby Show.

In 1965, the Standells signed with Capitol Records and recorded a song written by their producer, Larry Cobb, called Dirty Water. After the single was recorded, Dodd left the group and was replaced by Dewey Martin but returned as it began to get airplay. The song reached number 11 nationally and has gone on to be a favorite, making the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll and is still used as the victory song for the Boston Red Sox.

The Standells never broke the top 40 again and Dodd left the group in 1968 to pursue a solo career.  That year, he released the single Little Sister/Lonely Weekend, produced by Cobb and Buddy Buie, and released the album The First Evolution of Dick Dodd.

After not putting together a successful solo career, he formed the group The Blitz Brothers with which he played from 1973 to 1979.  The Standells reformed on a number of occasions over the years including a number of shows with the Fleshtones during the 80's and recorded a single together in the later part of the decade. Another reunion in 1999 was followed by numerous appearances at major Boston sporting events between 2004 and 2007 including singing the National Anthem and Dirty Water at the American League Championship Game and World Series.

Dodd also had his own group, Dick Dodd and the Dodd Squad which released the single Tough Like Boston in 2011.