EXPERIENCE ROCK HISTORY and ’60s SURF ‘n’ CAR CULTURE!
SURFIN’ SAFARI – the BEACH BOYS – October 1, 1962
Well, it’s the first day of Summer, June 21, 2013; – so, … “Let’s Go Surfin’!
surfin’ is the only life the only way for me,
now come on pretty baby and surf with me,
“Surfin'”, the first single by the Beach Boys, was the very first 45 RPM single I bought, released in November 1961; a few months before my 11th birthday.
As simple as that song was, it began both my single and LP vinyl fetish addiction/mania.
Living in Southern California, the future mecca of the massively influential “Surf Culture”, was ideal for my pre-teen sensibilities. Within the next two years the “Surf and Hot Rod/Car Culture” would become an all encompassing vibe that would include fashion, clothing, hair styles, dances, slang, attitude, beach bunnies, Pacific Islander culture, Tiki Gods, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s custom cars and Rat Finks and really fun cool surf music – and would mark my emergence as an official “teenager”!
This new “craze” would spread across the United States and to a certain extent the world.
Here in SoCal – where Dick Dale, Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys lived, recorded and performed – we were fortunate to “live” the culture in our own modest way and actually go to the beach and surf – even if you didn’t have a board, you would body surf! Gnarley!
Junior High school (and everywhere else) was a place to show your “surfwear”; usually a white t-shirt, Pendleton, faded blue jeans, Blue-tipped Purcells or barefoot and if you were a “Ho-Dad” then your car culture fashion would be a white t-shirt (maybe a white buttoned-down shirt – if you were serious), black leather or dark blue “tanker” jacket, dark jeans and black tapered shoes/boots. I preferred a cross between the two with all the surfwear but with a tanker jacket in place of a Pendleton. I had naturally blonde hair so I never had the need to peroxide my hair like many “Gremmies” did.
All too soon the British Invasion pretty much overtook the surf ‘n’ car culture music; leaving a truly historic time-stamp of a unique culture that emerged as quickly as it submerged. The Surf Culture however, was not music-driven and surfers carved-out and established their part of society with a devoted core of individuals who continue with the “Surf Spirit”, – this applies to the equally-established Car Culture as well.
Eventually the ever-present serious issues of civil rights and the Vietnam War was reflected in our music – and we all grew-up.
But for now we were enjoying truly innocent fun; the sound of the Beach Boys was full of the joy of the beach, surf, cars, girls, guys, summer, sun, freedom and youth.
While not all the tracks on their first LP were winners, “Surfin’ Safari” was a monster, and “409” was arguably the first single to chart that celebrated the Southland’s romance with everything cars.
“409” led to other major hits; “Shut Down”, “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Little Deuce Coupe” and influenced classics by others like; “Drag City”, “Deadman’s Curve” and “the Little Old Lady From Pasadena” by Jan and Dean, “Little G.T.O.” by Ronny and the Daytonas, “Hey Little Cobra” by the Rip Chords and many others.
The Beach Boys deserve all the credit that history provides as they single-handedly created a cultural and musical genre tidal wave. A wave that broke through the harbors of the standard Rock of the ’50s, a wave that burst the dams for the British Invasion and then a wave that morphed into a psychedelic pipeline with Brian Wilson’s epic “Good Vibrations“.
And while Chuck Berry’s riffs were admittedly used as basis or flourish to many of these tunes; cultural credit also has to be given to Dick Dale, “the King of the Surf Guitar” and to the Ventures for their creation of the guitar-driven surf instrumentals that were essential complements to the Beach Boys’ exquisite vocal harmonies that made up the Classic Surf Sound.
Rock History acknowledges the Beach Boys for their creation of a genre and for their incredible influence in music. And also for the inspiration they provided for countless artists and music lovers that continues to this day!
By 1979 I would be renting a nicely-converted horse stable guest house straight up from the bluff in this photo. My immediate neighbors on Point Dume were Goldie Hawn (when Kate and Oliver were infants), Max Gail (Wojo; Barney Miller) and Bob Dylan!
’60s Surf Culture Epilog:
At 18, I was going into the second half of my senior year of high school – (I was a split semester student, I graduated as an A-12 in February 1969) – I needed to attend “summer school” to make up credits to graduate. My incarceration was at Westchester High, near LAX which was a very short ride/hitch to the beach.
That Summer of 1968, every morning after class I’d go straight to the beach and hang for the day. As each day at the beach passed I marked it off on a calendar I had inside my notebook; by the end of the summer I had gone to the beach every day except for seven odd days, that included weekends, for the whole three months!
I had gone full native, my skin was a dark golden brown and I had a “Surfin’ U.S.A.” … bushy, bushy blonde hairdo” – and to make sure that I had really gone native the only showers that I took were in the ocean, that’s right, any “dirt” that I had on me was washed away by the natural wonders of the pristine Pacific Ocean salt water – and I never had so many girlfriends as I did that summer!