Rick Dehr and Frank Miller met at a Los Angeles memorial hootenanny for Huddie 'Lead Belly' Ledbetter, who died in December 1949. Dehr was part of Will and Herta Geer's Topanga Canyon community. Miller was Brooklyn-based singer/guitarist who frequented New York's Greenwich Village folk scene during the early '40s. After serving on the USS Saratoga during World War II, Miller relocated to Southern California.
As Miller and Dehr informally played a few traditional songs together, they realized they complemented each other. While Dehr's instrumental skills were modest at best, he was a superior lead vocalist. Miller was an outstanding guitarist who effortlessly sang tenor over Dehr's vocals. As The Easy Riders, they formed a duo that made a few recordings and played in local clubs.
Around 1951 a friend who worked on KGIL in Los Angeles introduced Miller to Terry Gilkyson, who was already known through his Decca recordings and The Cry Of The Wild Goose. Dehr's wife suggested the three men should write together. Established as a soloist, Gilkyson hadn't thought about collaborating with anyone, but agreed to rehearse with Dehr and Miller. His powerful baritone vocals enhanced Dehr and Miller's duets. Although Gilkyson maintained his career as a solo vocalist, the three began writing songs together. Gilkyson recorded their first collaborative effort, Fond Affection, at his April 15, 1952, Decca session. That same year Doris Day recorded their Mister Tap-Toe, which became a No.15 pop hit.
Their biggest song was Memories Are Made Of This. The Easy Riders provided vocal and instrumental support behind Dean Martin's 1955 hit record, which clung to the top of Billboard's pop chart for six weeks. Its success led Columbia Records to sign The Easy Riders. The trio's breakthrough hit was the calypso-flavored Marianne. Strollin' Blues had the same rolling rhythms as Memories Are Made Of This. Released in 1957, the song never dented the charts, but it spawned an effective cover by Les Paul and Mary Ford. Greenfields was a solo composition by Gilkyson. Buried on the trio's second Columbia album, The Brothers Four successfully revived it in 1960; their version climbed to No.2 on the Billboard pop chart.
Gilkyson, Dehr and Miller also provided incidental music for 'Windjammer,' a 1958 widescreen semi-documentary vividly capturing the voyage of the four-masted Norwegian schooner Christian Radich.
Growing tensions between Gilkyson and Miller led to the Easy Riders’ disbanding in early 1959. Dehr remained close to his former partners, later performing and recording with each of them. In 1960 Gilkyson and Dehr formed a short-lived edition of the Easy Riders with Bernie Armstrong and Carson Parks. Two years later Miller recruited Jerry Yester, Elvin Myres and Bert Dodson for a one-shot Epic album using the Easy Riders name. None of these later efforts captured the rolling magic of the original trio.