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Surf & Instrumental Music

Instrumental Rock'n'Roll

Before the British Invasion, instrumental groups owned an immense popularity in the U.S. and throughout the world. Those bands were wild, young and savage and spread the true spirit of Rock'n'Roll music into the worldwide music scene. Most bands acted completely without vocals and added at least one instrument taking over the 'singing' part - mostly hot electric guitars. And Teenagers kept on dancing – who would need lyrics anyhow?! Recent years have seen a huge amount of CD reissues in that field and a great amount on vinyl! Nevertheless, the few adult exponents of that style, Link Wray, Duane Eddy and The Ventures, should not be neglected! 

Woodies, Boards and the Fiberglass Jungle - Roots of the California Surfin' and Hot Rod Scene

At this stage we could just copy the wonderful books about the California music scene written by John Blair (Check 'em out in our mailorder) Well, we're not talking about Surf music sung with nice voices like The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean did, we're talking about the real Surf style and that is? Bingo! Instrumental Surf! A broad trend that dominated grassroots teenage music in America during the years 1961-1965, actually creaks down into four distinct phases. It started as early as 1961-1962, with such transitional records as 'Mr. Moto' by The Belairs (on Felsted label), 'Stick Shift' by The Duals (on Sue label), 'Moon Dawg' by The Gamblers (World-Pacific label), 'Church Key' by The Revels (on Impact), and 'Fiberglass Jungle' by The Crossfires - later to become The Turtles - (on Capco) which had what later would be called a surf sound, but no overt connection with surfing. This was instrumental music, a direct outgrowth of the hard rock, sax-and-guitar instrumentals that were 1959's biggest trend (Duane Eddy & The Rebels, Johnny & The Hurricanes, The Viscounts, The Ventures, The Rock-A-Teens, The Royaltones, The Fendermen etc.), a style taken over by local dance bands everywhere.

Dick Dale - The Guitar Legend

The catalyst that turned these thousands of instrumental bands into surf bands was Dick Dale, whose Eastern-influenced, staccato guitar sound with reverb was designed to simulate the feel of being on a surfboard riding pipelines and tubes. Dale's popularity at Southern California dances became immense in 1961 and 1962, and he was soon imitated by a whole wave of surf bands including The Chantays, The Rumblers, The Tornadoes, The Pyramids, The Marketts, The Surfaris, The Challengers and Dave Myers & The Surftones. This music established the audience for surf-related music, in California at least. Dale perfectionized his instrumental reverb sounds throughout the sixties in creating amplifiers (Fender Showman) and guitars for Leo Fender's company.

California Style

But it took Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys to give it a commercial cast to which the rest of the world could relate. They pioneered surf lyrics in songs that were about going to the beach, surfing, partying, etc. In short, they had built surfing into a universal metaphor for being young and having fun. Their inspiration, however, had come from The Regents - Ba-Ba-Ba-Barbara Ann - and of course Jan & Dean, whose truly pioneering 1959 records such as 'Baby Talk' (on Dore label) had introduced the California style of falsetto and doo-wop-derived nonsense phrases used heavily in the early Beach Boys records. The vocal surf bands who followed made up the golden age of surf music. Even Hollywood followed with easy Teenage Beach Party movies starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon with tremendous commercial success. 

Surf & Instrumental Music Instrumental Rock'n'Roll Before the British Invasion, instrumental groups owned an immense popularity in the U.S. and throughout the world. Those bands were wild,... read more »
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Go Guitar!

Surf & Instrumental Music

Instrumental Rock'n'Roll

Before the British Invasion, instrumental groups owned an immense popularity in the U.S. and throughout the world. Those bands were wild, young and savage and spread the true spirit of Rock'n'Roll music into the worldwide music scene. Most bands acted completely without vocals and added at least one instrument taking over the 'singing' part - mostly hot electric guitars. And Teenagers kept on dancing – who would need lyrics anyhow?! Recent years have seen a huge amount of CD reissues in that field and a great amount on vinyl! Nevertheless, the few adult exponents of that style, Link Wray, Duane Eddy and The Ventures, should not be neglected! 

Woodies, Boards and the Fiberglass Jungle - Roots of the California Surfin' and Hot Rod Scene

At this stage we could just copy the wonderful books about the California music scene written by John Blair (Check 'em out in our mailorder) Well, we're not talking about Surf music sung with nice voices like The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean did, we're talking about the real Surf style and that is? Bingo! Instrumental Surf! A broad trend that dominated grassroots teenage music in America during the years 1961-1965, actually creaks down into four distinct phases. It started as early as 1961-1962, with such transitional records as 'Mr. Moto' by The Belairs (on Felsted label), 'Stick Shift' by The Duals (on Sue label), 'Moon Dawg' by The Gamblers (World-Pacific label), 'Church Key' by The Revels (on Impact), and 'Fiberglass Jungle' by The Crossfires - later to become The Turtles - (on Capco) which had what later would be called a surf sound, but no overt connection with surfing. This was instrumental music, a direct outgrowth of the hard rock, sax-and-guitar instrumentals that were 1959's biggest trend (Duane Eddy & The Rebels, Johnny & The Hurricanes, The Viscounts, The Ventures, The Rock-A-Teens, The Royaltones, The Fendermen etc.), a style taken over by local dance bands everywhere.

Dick Dale - The Guitar Legend

The catalyst that turned these thousands of instrumental bands into surf bands was Dick Dale, whose Eastern-influenced, staccato guitar sound with reverb was designed to simulate the feel of being on a surfboard riding pipelines and tubes. Dale's popularity at Southern California dances became immense in 1961 and 1962, and he was soon imitated by a whole wave of surf bands including The Chantays, The Rumblers, The Tornadoes, The Pyramids, The Marketts, The Surfaris, The Challengers and Dave Myers & The Surftones. This music established the audience for surf-related music, in California at least. Dale perfectionized his instrumental reverb sounds throughout the sixties in creating amplifiers (Fender Showman) and guitars for Leo Fender's company.

California Style

But it took Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys to give it a commercial cast to which the rest of the world could relate. They pioneered surf lyrics in songs that were about going to the beach, surfing, partying, etc. In short, they had built surfing into a universal metaphor for being young and having fun. Their inspiration, however, had come from The Regents - Ba-Ba-Ba-Barbara Ann - and of course Jan & Dean, whose truly pioneering 1959 records such as 'Baby Talk' (on Dore label) had introduced the California style of falsetto and doo-wop-derived nonsense phrases used heavily in the early Beach Boys records. The vocal surf bands who followed made up the golden age of surf music. Even Hollywood followed with easy Teenage Beach Party movies starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon with tremendous commercial success. 

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