Surf Music

"Dennis Wilson was the only Beach Boy that surfed. This is the music he listened to after a long day of Surfing."
Jim Pash, The Surfaris, 1991

A Southern Californian genre of the early Sixties, surf rock celebrated not just catching the perfect wave, but such carefree adolescent phenomena as the sun, beach, parties, girls and hot rods.

The surf music had two strains, vocal and instrumental. Jan and Dean started vocal surf music off in 1959 with their hit "Baby Talk" and followed with such genre classics as "Surf City" and "Deadman's Curve," all featuring their trademark high harmony vocals and bouncy denatured Chuck Berry guitar riffs. The Beach Boys came along soon after, scored a series of mammoth national hits, and soon eclipsed Jan and Dean in both popularity and significance.

Instrumental surf music featured throbbing tribal tom-tom tattoos and trebly, metallic, twanging guitar riffs: the Ventures' "Walk Don't Run," the Duals' "Stick Shift," Dick Dale and the Del-Tones' "Miserlou." Thanks in large part to the prolific Ventures instrumental surf rock has proven to be one of rock's more influential subgenres. Surf rock's influence can be heard in the music of Blondie, the Go-Go's, the Raybeats, the Reverend Horton Heat, the Cramps, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, and many other musicians, including U-2 the edge. It made a splash again on the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction (1994), which included a song by Dick Dale.

Surfing the sport of Hawaiian kings was introduced to California at the turn of the century. In 1959, the sport received a boost from the movie Gidget, a tale of a young girl who spends a summer on the beach and falls in love with two surfers.

The innovations of two surfboard companies, Hobie Surfboards in Dana Point, and Sweet's Surfboards in Santa Monica, further popularized the sport. Hobie Alter and Dave and Roger Sweet replaced the heavy wooden board with a lightweight polyurethane foam strip coated with fiberglass and glossed with a polyester resin that could be handled more easily, an important consideration in the teen market.

Almost immediately, young people in Southern California started to buy the plastic boards and take to the waves. Surfing soon became an established craze in Southern California          

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