Barry Rillera – The Righteous Brothers
Barry Rillera is the drummer for Redbone, an Orange County surf rock band. In the late 50s he and his older brother played in a band known as Rhythm Rockers which included Richard Berry (author of classic party song “Louie Louie”).
Barry later played with Ray Charles and rock group White Trash; additionally, he has worked as both an instrumental teacher and songwriter.
Early Life and Education
Barry Rillera was raised in Orange County, California. He began his music career singing with local doo-wop groups such as the Penguins, Cadets & Chimes, Crowns & Five Hearts and Dreamers before going on to perform with Rhythm Rockers which launched Bill Medley & Bobby Hatfield’s musical careers.
Medley and Hatfield had both been members of separate bands at the time, but when the Rhythm Rockers disbanded in 1958, Rillera brought them together as a duo. Rillera introduced Medley and Hatfield when Rillera introduced them, and soon thereafter their music helped define midcentury blue-eyed soul. A black Marine at El Torno shouted their name out after watching them perform; one such black Marine even told George Harrison about them! They soon gained many fans including The Beatles themselves who sought out their records.
Barry Rillera performed with Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield when they performed in Orange County-based groups The Paramours and Variations respectively in Orange County, California. In addition, he performed for approximately one year with Jerry LaCroix’s White Trash ensemble.
Barry also performed with the Righteous Brothers as their lead guitarist, bandleader, and tour manager. Known for his skill with electric guitar, Barry enjoyed an extensive career that saw him performing various genres of music with particular affinity towards blues music.
He also played with Ray Charles and Jerry LaCroix & White Trash for approximately one year; teaching George Harrison how to play guitar during that period.
Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield’s legendary partnership defined mid-century blue-eyed soul. Although not related, their songs became classic hits together under their trademark Righteous Brothers moniker. They met while both playing in bands from Orange County, California on the coffee house and high school prom circuit. Barry Rillera, who had worked with both Hatfield’s group the Variations and Medley’s band the Paramours, brought together these singers as lead vocalists of a new group called the Paramours. “The Righteous Brothers” received their name after being recognized by a black marine on US Army TV show Shindig!. When Barry wasn’t touring with his Southern R&B/Rock Group White Trash or recording with Ray Charles among others, his moniker stuck.