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Born in Santa Monica, California, legendary rock drummer Sandy Nelson seemed destined for a career in music--his best friends in high school were future rock stars Jan Berry and Dean Torrence (later to become the singing duo of Jan & Dean ) and Kim Fowley , who became one of the most influential record producers in rock history.

When he was 20 years old his first record, "Geronimo" (recorded with a band called The Renegades), was chosen to be on the soundtrack of American-International Pictures' teen exploitation movie Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959). Nelson's talent propelled him to the front ranks of session musicians. He was the drummer on some of the biggest rock hits of the 1950s and 1960s, such as "To Know Him Is to Love Him" by the Teenage Teddy Bears (written by one of its members, Phil Spector ), "A Thousand Stars" by Kathy Young and "Alley Oop" by The Hollywood Argyles.

In 1959 his song "Teen Beat" hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, selling over 1,000,000 copies, which earned it a gold record. Nelson soon signed with Imperial Records, and for that label he came out with what is probably his best-known hit: the pounding, explosive "Let There Be Drums" (although it wasn't as big a hit as "Teen Beat" was).

In 1963 Nelson was involved in a motorcycle accident and was seriously injured, so seriously that his right foot and part of his right leg were amputated (it is erroneously believed by many that his foot was amputated before he made "Teen Beat" and "Let There Be Drums"). That didn't stop his career, however; he recorded for quite a few years after that, and released an album of new material in 2008.

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