The Murmaids


The Murmaids are a one-shot group from the early 60's who had one memorable song before some of the members headed off to college and then had no more hits.

The group was comprised of sisters Terry (born in 1946) and Carol (1948) Fischer and their mutual friend and neighbor, Sally Gordon (1946). The sisters are the daughters of Carl Fischer, who was musical director for Frankie Laine for over a decade and the composer of Laine's We'll Be Together Again as well as Billie Holiday's You've Changed. Their mother Terry sang with the big bands, including the Stan Kenton Orchestra.

The girls lived in Los Angeles. Terry's school friend Mike Post arranged for them to sing on some demos, sometimes at Gold Star Studios. Kim Fowley, at the time a record producer at Chattahoochee Records, heard the girls there and offered to have them record for Chattahoochee.

In 1963 David Gates was a twenty-two year old musician, songwriter and producer. Two years earlier he had moved to Los Angeles with his family from Tulsa, Oklahoma where his high school band had once played back-up for rock superstar Chuck Berry. Gates had written a song he called Popsicles And Icicles. It was a simple song with a nice melody, a reflection of early 60's pop music. By this time Terry, Carol and Sally were ready to record with Chattahoochee Records, which was owned by Ruth Conti. They recorded as the Murmaids, later saying that it was probably just a typo or misspelling of mermaids. They showed up and recorded five songs for Fowley, including Popsicles And Icicles, with Terry on lead vocals.

The record was an immediate hit, entering the top 100 in November, 1963 and advancing into the top forty the next month. By January, it was at #3 nationwide, just as the Beatles were about to break onto the scene. The three teenage girls from Los Angeles sang very well, and had a hit on their hands. Their mothers handled their business affairs, and as time went on realized that the girls simply were not paid for their efforts. Popsicles And Icicles was a big hit in Australia, but not in the UK. The Murmaids appeared on a couple of Los Angeles television shows and did some more recording, but their career only lasted for about six months, and they would not have another record that reached the top forty. In the fall of 1964 Terry and Sally headed off to college, Sally to the University of Oregon. Carol continued with her high school studies.

The group did some additional recording sometime later, but nothing that sold many records. Chattahoochee released other records as by the Murmaids, but with different singers. Terry Fischer continued with her singing career as a backup and session singer. After college Sally Gordon-Mark studied in Florence, Italy for a time, returned to singing in the Los Angeles area, then went to Europe in 1987. Sally does research, translation and editing and enjoys dual citizenship in France and the United States. In the late 90's Terry Fischer-Siegel and Carol Fischer Morell reformed the group, with first Cynthia Perry and later Petra Rowell as the third member. As this is written Terry and Carol are performing with Suzi Robertson and have a web site at themurmaids.com. Although they received little in the way of financial compensation for their mega-hit, the Murmaids have received recognition as one of the girl groups in the early days of rock and have expressed surprise at the number of people who tell them they remember the Murmaids and their song. David Gates joined with others to form a group called Bread in 1969, which put a dozen singles in the top forty in the 70's, all of which were written by Gates, among them top ten entries Make It With You, It Don't Matter To Me, If, and Baby I'm-A Want You.

When Popsicles And Icicles became a nationwide hit for the Murmaids in late 1963 the Beatles had not yet had a top forty hit in the USA. By the time it left the top forty, the Beatles had reached number one with I Want To Hold Your Hand. It was as if the Murmaids had ushered out one era of pop music history just as another was getting ready to come in.


Most Recent Update: November 1, 2015

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Send email to the author, Tom Simon tsimon@tsimon.com.