One in a seemingly endless parade of garage bands to gig and record under the Intruders aegis, this particular act formed in Tucson, AZ, in 1963 -- originally comprised of guitarists Tom Walker and Terry Lee, bassist Shep Cooke, and drummer Pete Schuyler, the band started out playing Ventures-inspired instrumental surf covers, but following the onslaught of the British Invasion added a vocalist, Larry Cox. After winning a Tucson battle of the bands contest, the Intruders were awarded a record deal -- the "recording studio" turned out to be gear installed in their benefactor's living room, but nevertheless their debut single, "Every Time It's You," appeared on the Gallant label in 1964.
By this time they rivaled the Grodes for the unofficial title of Tucson's most popular local band, and two more singles -- "Then I'd Know" and "Now She's Gone" -- followed on manager Dan Peters' Moxie label before pressure from a Detroit act also called the Intruders prompted a switch to the Quinstrells. Under this name the group issued a third Moxie single, "I Got a Girl," before local disc jockey Dan Gates of station KTKT influenced another name change, this time to the Dearly Beloved. Gates also convinced them to record his song, "Peep Peep Pop Pop," booking studio time at Phoenix's Audio Sound Recorders studio -- first issued on the New Mexico-based Boyd label in 1966, the label mistakenly credited the Beloved Ones, but the song nevertheless topped Tucson radio play lists throughout the summer months. This regional success resulted in a contract with major label Columbia and a national re-release of "Peep Peep Pop Pop," this time correctly credited to the Dearly Beloved -- the single fell just shy of the Billboard Hot 100, and the group soon traveled to Los Angeles to record their first LP, cutting 20 songs over the course of three days. Only a single, "Wait Till Mornin'," ever saw official release -- Columbia shelved the rest of the tapes, and a frustrated Schuyler soon resigned, with Grodes drummer Rick Mellinger signing on as his replacement.
While on a return trip to L.A. to open for the Leaves, the Dearly Beloved were spotted by representatives from the White Whale label, resulting in a contract offer. However, because Cox's wedding was scheduled to take place in Tucson the following morning, the band was forced to return home immediately following the gig, leaving L.A. at 3:00 a.m. and taking turns behind the wheel. Tragically, the driver fell asleep and the car crashed, killing Cox instantly. His death voided the White Whale contract before the ink was even dry, as terms dictated that the lineup remain intact. Before his passing, Cox wrote "Merry Go Round," a gripping song about death made all the more eerie by his tragic demise -- the single appeared on the Splitsound label in 1967, with singer Jim Perry stepping into the frontman role for the session.
Soon after, Cooke resigned to join Linda Ronstadt in her band the Stone Poneys, and the Dearly Beloved gradually dissolved -- their classic recordings were compiled in 1984 on Rough Diamonds: The History of Garage Band Music, Vol. 6. Cooke additionally recorded a pair of solo LPs for Vanguard.