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'Surfin' Safari'

The Beach Boys' first album

By Sean CallaghanPublished 14 days ago Updated 5 days ago 3 min read
The cover shot at Paradise Cove in 1962

The Beach Boy's debut album "Surfin' Safari was released on October 1st 1962 but their origins go back to early November 1961. Wilson parents Murry and Audree went on a business trip to Mexico City leaving their three sons at their home in Hawthorne California with an emergency sum. Oldest Brother, Brian Wilson was a musical prodigy who loved the harmonies of the 50s vocal group The "Four Freshman", Younger Brother, Carl Wilson was an aspiring guitarist who loved practicing to Chuck Berry records. Middle Brother, Dennis was a surfer and suggested to Brian that he write a song about Surfing. Brian convened his brothers, First Cousin Mike Love and Brian's High School Friend Al Jardine and used the emergency money left for them along with an additional 300$ lent by Al's Mother Virginia to rent or buy musical instruments. Brian and Mike composed the tune Surfin'. When Murry and Audree returned home, Murry was initially furious that the boys had "Wasted" their money but was quickly won over by the quality of Brian and Mikes' song. They recorded a version of Surfin' for Hite and Dorinda Morgan of Candix Records. They initially wanted to call their group The "Pendletones" after the popular pendolton shirts many surfers favored. Label promotions man Russ Regan changed their name to the Beach Boys without the groups blessing. Surfin' was released as a single on Candix Records on November 27th 1961 was a local radio hit in the Southern California Market and sold more than 40'000 copies

Sadly, Al Jardine decided to return to college to study dentistry so the Wilson's neighbor and Carl's good friend David Marks took over on rhythm guitar. Dennis was given the drum throne because there was no other instrument he could play at the time.

The group was signed to Capitol Records after A&R man Nick Venet heard their demo. Venet was assigned production duties on the first two Beach Boys Albums. Most of the Surfin' Safari album was recorded at the studios in the Capitol Tower.

The title track begins with a snare hit from Dennis which is then followed by the songs harmony hook, Mike totally owns the song as lead vocalist. Dennis's drums are primitive but get the point across.

"County Fair" was written by Brian with his friend Gary Usher. Producer Nick Venet stars as the carnival barker. primitive, but fun.

"Ten Little Indians" was released as a single charting at number 49. "Chug-A-Lug" written by Brian, Mike and Gary Usher is a song about drinking root beer and is accentuated by an organ solo and fine guitar by Carl and David.

Dennis takes the lead vocal on "Little Girl (you're' my Miss America)" A song written by Herb Alpert and Vincent Catalanto. Dennis would go on to become the teenage heartthrob of the group.

"409" is a minor rocker written by Brian, Mike and Gary. Singing the praises of a Chevrolet 409 engine.

Opening Side Two is the Beach Boy's original hit "Surfin'" The snare drum part is Brian tapping his finger against a snare drum. The chugging standup bass is played by then-departed member Al Jardine. Carl is playing a close mic'd un-plugged in electric guitar.

"Heads You Win, Tails I Lose" is written by Brian with Gary Usher. Mike really shines on the bass vocal parts.

"Summertime Blues" is a cover of an Eddie Cochran song and showed that the Beach Boys still had a ways to go to perfect their harmonies and instrumental chops.

"Cuckoo Clock" is written by Brian and Gary . It tells the story of a cuckoo clock interrupting romantic time between two teenagers.

"Moon Dawg" is an instrumental originally written by Derry Weaver. Carl and David really show off their guitar chops here.

"The Shift" is written by Brian and Mike and features more guitar magic from Carl and David.

While not a spectacular start, Surfin' Safari laid the foundation on which future albums would build on .

60s music

About the Creator

Sean Callaghan

Neurodivergent, Writer, Drummer, Singer, Percussionist, Star Wars and Disney Devotee.

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Comments (1)

  • Mark Graham7 days ago

    Great article and I really like the Beach Boys music. I was a child of the 1970's and would always sing along with them when I heard them on the radio or listening to my big brother cassette tapes or 8-track player. Great memories.

Sean CallaghanWritten by Sean Callaghan

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