The One And Only Big Year For Surf Music – 1963

Let’s stay in the late 1950s and early 1960s for a brief look and listen to those instrumentals, mainly surf music, but also Duane Eddy, simple rockabilly and western tunes, the mighty Shads, and the novelty of Let there be drums all boomf, bash and base, by the big teenager Sandy Nelson.  These twanging and tinkling instrumental noises nudged my interest in popular music.    Before these instrumentals, the radio provided streets of comedy with the “Button Down Mind” of Bob Newhart – always an amusing thought – and the cool but crazy ramblings of Flavius Maximus, Private Roman Eye in Rinse the Blood off my Toga.  Shakespeare had never sounded better.  Or Allan Sherman – off to summer camp with “Hello Muddah Hello Faddah here I am at Camp Granada!”  Who was listening to the music?  Elvis Who?

But the twang got me. In a brief moment in time, surf music ruled and then came the Beatles.  More on them later.  When the Merseymania hit Australia and we all lost our minds for a while, an older acquaintance (who dressed like someone out of Jailhouse Rock) asked me whether I had heard of The Shadows… know Apache…tomtom intro and big ranch guitar.  Shock Horror!  They had passed me by; it must have been Big Julie who had my attention at the time.  I told him “Don’t go, don’t go!!!…”  Anyway the short of it is that I went down to the local Record Store in High Street Preston and bought Apache and wow could Hank Marvin play guitar (even with those funny glasses), and what a cool and precise drummer in Tony Meehan.

The combination of The Shadows from England, The Ventures in the States and the American surf groups was something else.  And all the vocal groups, singing sensations, crooners and songs could not dent that space.  At least for a little while.

My listing of the intriguing, the exciting, and the crazy instrumental and surf  sounds, in no particular order, is created below:

Who What Where & When Billboard Top 100
Chantays Pipeline Orange County, California 1963 #4
Surfaris Wipeout Glendora, California 1963 #2
The Trashmen Surfer Bird Minneapolis, Minnesota 1963 #4
Sandy Nelson Let there be drums Santa Monica, California 1961 #7
Duane Eddy Peter Gunn, Ballad of Paladin Phoenix, Arizona 1959 & 1962 #27 and #33
The Ventures Walk don’t run Tacoma, Washington, 1960 #2
The Spotnicks Orange Blossom Special Sweden, 1962 #29 (UK)
Link Wray & His Raymen Rumble, The Black Widow North Carolina, 1958 & 1963 #16
The Shadows Apache, Man of Mystery, FBI, The Savage, 36 24 36 United Kingdom, 1960 & 1961 #1 #5 #5 #9 (UK)
Jet Harris& Tony Meehan Diamonds United Kingdom, 1963 #1 (UK)
The Challengers K-39 Los Angeles, California, 1964
Dick Dale Miserlou, The Victor, King of the Surf Guitar, Surf Beat El Segundo, California, 1962
Jack Nitzsche The Lonely Surfer Chicago, Illinois 1963 #37
The Lively Ones Surf Rider Southern California, 1963
The Tornadoes (USA) Bustin’ Surfboards Redlands, California, 1963
The Belairs Mr Moto South Bay Los Angeles 1961
The Marketts Out of Limits #3
The Impacts Blue Surf Featuring Merrell Fankhauser 1962
The Pyramids Penetration Long Beach California #20
Santo & Johnny Sleepwalk NYC, New York 1959 #1
Atlantics Bombora Sydney, Australia #1
Thunderbirds Wild Weekend Melbourne, Australia 1963 #13(1960)#31(1963)
The Denvermen Surfside Sydney, Australia 1963 #1
The Strangers The cry of the wild goose Melbourne, Australia 1963 #12
The Phantoms Stampede Melbourne, Australia 1962 #27

And there were a few surf songs that snuck under the radar.  Here goes:

Beach Boys Surfin’ USA, Fun Fun Fun, Surfin’ Safari, California Girls #3 #5 #14 #5
Jan & Dean Surf City #1
Surfaris Surfer Joe Glendora, California 1963 Flipside to Wipeout
The Rivieras California Sun South Bend, Indiana 1964 #5

Try a few of the tracks for yourself.

TheLonelySurfer The+Chantays+-+Pipeline+-+EX+-+LP+RECORD-544210 rivieras

The Lonely Surfer – Jack Nitzsche

Pipeline – The Chantays

California Sun – The Rivieras

And you can read some more at these cool websites:










Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.