The voice behind one of Boston’s most iconic songs has died. Dick Dodd, singer and drummer of garage rock legends the Standells, passed away on Friday in California at the age of 68, a result of a long battle with cancer. The band’s 1965 hit “Dirty Water” is celebrated around the city of Boston, most notably as an anthem for our sports teams.
Despite being from the West Coast, Dodd’s popular refrain of “Oh, Boston, you’re my home” has resonated with generations of Bostonians; the song is played after every Red Sox victory at Fenway Park. The song itself is a bit of a piss-take, citing “frustrated women,” curfews, the Strangler, and “lovers, fuggers, and thieves.” But that hasn’t stopped Boston from embracing it.
Dodd was also a member of surf rock pioneers the Bel-Airs and Eddie and the Showmen.
In October, as the Sox were en route to another World Series victory, Dodd was hospitalized with stage four cancer of the esophagus, spleen, liver and spine. At the time, a GoFundMe page was set up to help with his medical costs; it had raised nearly $5,000.
Over the weekend, the page’s curator, Peggi Collins, posted the following note:
It is with a heavy heart…
It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that Dickie lost his battle last night. He had contracted pneumonia and just wasn’t strong enough to fight it. Please remember him in your prayers and consider adding to this fund which his family desperately needs to offset the great expense of his illness.
Of course, Dodd was more than just the voice of “Dirty Water.” The Los Angeles Times published a comprehensive obituary on the famed musician over the weekend; here are some highlights:
Dick Dodd, a Mouseketeer on Disney’s original “Mickey Mouse Club” who went on to become a surf music pioneer and a youth-quaking garage rock showman, died Friday in a Fountain Valley hospital, said his close friend, Tim Ferrill. Dodd was 68.
Born Joseph Richard Dodd Jr. on Oct. 27, 1945, in Hermosa Beach, Dodd cultivated an interest in singing, dancing and performing as a young boy. In 1955, at the age of 9, he was cast on “The Mickey Mouse Club,” the beloved television variety show that came to epitomize post-war America, alongside series regulars such as Annette Funicello and Cubby O’Brien. On the show, he was the Mouseketeer known as Dickie.
In the early 1960s, Dodd was a member of two of the earliest and most influential surf rock bands — the Bel-Airs, which nabbed a hit with the 1961 instrumental “Mr. Moto,” and Eddie and the Showmen, which performed on the same bill as some of the luminaries of the era including the Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher and the Righteous Brothers.
[I]n 1964, Dodd took a musical left turn out of the mainstream to become drummer-vocalist in the garage rock band the Standells, known primarily for their popular single “Dirty Water.” Recorded in 1965, it became the Standells’ first and only hit, peaking at No. 11 on the national singles chart. And with its unforgettable refrain, “Boston, you’re my home,” the song held a special renown in Beantown where it’s still an anthem for its sports teams, including the Red Sox baseball team and hockey-playing Bruins.
The Standells also went on to provide a soundtrack to the clash between counter-culture revelers and the establishment in 1967 with Dodd singing their second best-known song, “Riot on Sunset Strip,” on camera during the opening credits of a low-budget exploitation movie of the same name.