Julius Wechter, leader of the Baja Marimba Band and composer of the hit tune “Spanish Flea,”, died Feb. 1 of lung cancer at his home in Calabasas, Calif. He was 63.
Wechter began his career in the late 1950s playing vibes and percussion for the Martin Denny group. He also wrote songs on many of their albums. In the early 1960s, Wechter played percussion for artists such as Sonny and Cher, the Beach Boys and the Righteous Brothers. His association with Herb Alpert began in 1962, when he played marimba on the Tijuana Brass’ album “The Lonely Bull.”
Wechter wrote the group’s hit single “Spanish Flea,” which was the regular theme of “The Dating Game” and has also been used in numerous movies and other TV shows.
He formed the Baja Marimba Band in the mid 1960s. Songs like “Brasilia” and “Up Cherry Street” in combination with a unique brand of slapstick humor made the band a popular live act in Las Vegas and on TV.
In the 1980s, Wechter wrote music for TV shows and collaborated with his wife Cissy on the musical comedy “Growing Pains.”
In addition to his wife, Wechter is survived by two sons and three grandsons. Family suggests donations in Wechter’s name be made to the Tourette’s Syndrome Association, 42-40 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361-2820.