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Barbara Ann by The Beach Boys

Album: Beach Boys' Party!Released: 1965Charted:
  • Dean Torrence from the group Jan & Dean sang lead on this song of teenage desire. Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys helped write Jan & Dean's 1964 hit "Dead Man's Curve."
  • The Regents first recorded this in 1961. Their version was released after the group broke up, charting at US #13.
  • Fred Fassert wrote this song around 1958, and got the title from the name of this sister. His brother, Charles Fassert, was a member of The Regents, so he gave it to the group. Guy Villari was the falsetto lead for The Regents.
  • Capitol Records released this without telling the band. The Beach Boys were trying to gain credibility as a serious musical act, and didn't want to put out such a simplistic song.
  • This was recorded live for the Beach Boys Party album.
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Comments: 38

Susan, I'm not one but my dad named me a variation as a nickname. my brothers friends though I was one, as you an see I'm not. Never, to the day he died found out why. Loved this tune, it was just a fun song, and the line you hear about The Famous Ashtray was bout Hal Blaine drummer for a lot of their LPS.Jennifur Sun - Ramona
Barry, thanks for the correction on the date -- I was just sure it had come out when I was in 3rd grade, not 4th. Anyway, I remember rocking to this song when our mom drove us to school. (By the way, Barry, I love your informative posts, and I see one or more in virtually every song I open. You are a living, breathing encyclopedia of music.)
Barbara Ann from FL: Don't feel bad about getting this song sung at you a lot -- at least you only have one song with your name in it. There is no shortage of songs with all the variations of my name in them -- Susan, Susie, Sue and even Susannah. I get everything from "Wake Up Little Susie" to "If You Knew Susie" and then some.
Susan - Atlanta, Georgia
On May 8th 1961, the Regents performed "Barbara Ann" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
One week later on May 15th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at #59; and on June 12th it peaked at #13 (for 2 weeks) and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
When the Regents released the original version on Gee Records they had a hyphen between Barbara and Ann; the Beach Boys didn't use it on their Capital Records release...
Note: I made a mistake in my post below; the Beach Boy's "Barbara Ann" entered the Top 100 on December 26th, 1965 not 12-26-1966.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On January 23rd 1966, "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys peaked at #2 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on December 26th, 1966 and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100 (with 4 of those 11 weeks on the Top 10)...
It had jumped from position #15 to #2, with "We Can Work It Out" by the Beatles keeping it out of the top spot...
Because of its big jump up the chart it seemed certain that it would move into the #1 spot, but it was "My Love" by Petula Clark that leaped over it to #1 and the boys stayed at #2 (the following week it slipped to #4)...
R.I.P. Dennis Wilson (1944-1983), and Carl Wilson (1946-1998).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
"But what I wonder about is the young lady whose voice we hear above the general din. I suspect that many men--both young and old--have formed a mental picture of what she looks like. Does anyone know who she is?" -- Mark, Lancaster, OH

It so happens I do. My late wife was a friend of one of the Beach Boys' backing musicians during her high school years, and she was present at a number of their recording sessions, including this one. She described the chaotic scene to me in detail, including the moment someone got fresh with her from behind, prompting her indignant squeal. Her name then was Jan Dowty, or she might have been going by her stepfather's last name, Giuntini. She was a rare beauty and a free spirit who gave me 37 years and two beautiful daughters before succumbing to an infection in 2009.
Paul - Encino, Ca
I love the Beach Boys. But I always hated how they butchered this song , originally done by the Regents.Wayne - Midvale, Ut
My sister's name is Barbara Ann and I always play the song to get on her nerves. It is a fun song.Nancy - Baltimore, Md
There is fun cover done by the one and only Beach Boys.Daniel - Tuscon, Az
The Regents, from The Bronx, also had a 2nd record that did pretty good on the charts in 1961; the song was "Runaround", it peaked at No. 28!!!Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Dean is on the song because he and Jan were involved with a record called "You really know how to hurt a guy" which Dean hated. so Jan told him to leave the studio. so he headed to studio B where the Beach Boys were drinking all night and had no idea what to do next. You can hear that on the Party version which is a minute longer and without the fade out.And in my opinion the better version. I never have understood why stations won't play it now.Wayne - Portland , Or
The singers were just fooling around when they did this song and also quite drunk.Mark - Topeka, Ks
Jan and Dean sang on many of Beach Boys songs and vice versa,not just this.Jan Berry and Dean Torrence also had a song called Gas Money credited to Jan and Arnie.Darren - Jacksdale,
Lefty---yeah, i can hear it too..."Hal and his famous ashtrays" ----pretty cool.Reed - New Ulm, Mn
The Beach Boys are Great- Their music makes you feel good. This Song was used on "Home Improvement" when Wilson and his nephews sing it with Jill over the fence.Grant - Toowoomba,
It was legendary Hal Baine on ash trays, playing at the live jam session.. if you listen carefully youll hear someone say Hal Baine on ash trays..Leftykc - St Joseph, Mo
I have a copy of the original master take, and Mike clearly says "Scratch, Me Carl, Scratch Me, Lower, Down Lower". Also the comment about the ashtrays is this, "Hey, it's Hal and his famous ashtrays!" Hal, refers to Hal Blaine a studio drumer that Brian was currently using on some of his albums! I hope this clears things up!Mario - Esky, Mi
This song brought enjoyment to a late friend of mine named Bob Moran (a disabled amputee Vietnam veteran). He enjoyed introducing himself, or placing a phone call and saying "Hello, this is "Bob-Bob-Bob---Bob-Bob Moran" and sometimes we would call him that back.Bill - Laplata, Md
Actually, the Regents didn't record this in 1961, they recorded it in 1958, but it wasn't a hit until 1961 - same as the Edsel's "Rama Lama Ding Dong" or "There's A Moon Out Tonight" by the Capris.Chris - Beckley, Wv
My name is Barbara Ann and I have been hearing this song since I was born. I used to hate people singing
as I walked the halls in school; however, it's kinda funny now.
Barbara Ann - Grand Ridge, Fl
This song was also used to advertise a car dealership in South Australia owned by a man named Bob Moran.

He's later been investigated for fraud and filed for bankruptcy, I believe.
Geoff - Adelaide, Australia
Carl Wilson HATED this song. He referred to it as the "bane of my existence". I know what he meant.Bill - Downers Grove, Il
There seem to be any number of mysteries about this work.

One legend, or rumor, or whatever is that the Beach Boys' father insisted on operating the sound console, so he was allowed to--except that it wasn't connected to anything.

Another concerns the fluffing of the lyrics, which of course adds immensely to the charm.

But what I wonder about is the young lady whose voice we hear above the general din. I suspect that many men--both young and old--have formed a mental picture of what she looks like. Does anyone know who she is?
Mark - Lancaster, Oh
The REAL Barbara Ann was Barbara Ann Fassert, little sister of Fred Fassert, writer of the song and member of the song's original singers, The Regents.John - Lansing, Mi
I remember during the Iran Hostage Crisis this song being paradied into "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb bomb Iran"Kevin Witt - Haymarket, Va
Correction to US chart position: It was #1 in two out of the three national charts of the time -- real sales charts -- for two weeks in Record World and one week in 'Cash Box'. Only Billboard ranked it #2 because it took into account airplay -- which was why Petula Clark's 'My Love', played to death by all the Easy Listening stations, beat it in Billboard. It was in the top six selling singles in Germany in 1966 (the next biggest market to the US), #1 in France, Norway, etc.Gary - Auckland, New Zealand
I've never heard that Jan sang on it. In fact, when Dean told Jan that the Beach Boys were going to record it Jan said, "Oh, that'll never be a hit again!" Supposedly the real story is, Brian and Dean sang it together. Brian recently said that Mike Love had miked it (placed the microphone) better for Dean, and Brian took this personally.Gary - Auckland, New Zealand
i loved the Saved by the Bell episode with this song.Rachel - Oxford, Oh
Laura, I saw "The Kids are Alright" in 1979 when it first came out, and I vividly recall the Barbara Ann cover. I too could not stop laughing - for me though it was Pete Townsends feeble efforts to follow along with the verses, squinting at the band as he tries to croon along. "Went to the with Bobby Zoo, Booby Sue..."Tom - Newark, De
1. Barbara Ann and Good Vibrations were number one... and man, there are diferences in produnction, ain't it?

2. Listen closely, there's someone saying BA BA BA BLACK SHEEP, the title of a nursery rhyme. In the PARTY album they sang a little excerpt.
This is the complete song:
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir; yes, sir, three bags full:
One for my master,
One for my dame,
But none for the little boy
Who cries in the lane.

3. In grammar, it refers to a construction with the verb HAVE; "Have you"...?

4. This strange joke, sometimes formed part of the song when they played it live.
Antonio - Brugge, Belgium
As far as I understand, the Beach Boys had a contract obligation to release one more album within a certain time frame. Brian Wilson had already started producing "Pet Sounds" but had to put that aside for a while to meet this obligation. However he didn't want to spend one minute on this more than necessary, hence the "Party" album idea: the Beach Boys simply decided to through a party at the studio (I recall reading about Mike Love going across the street to pick up some beer) and then simply recorded whatever they felt like singing. Jan and Dead happened to stop by (or they were already around) and got invited to join the party. They had previously recorded "Barbara Ann" and Dean suggested they sing that, which they did (hence the presence of Jan and Dean on this record).

If possible, try and find the uncut version of this where the Boys keep repeating the chorus over and over, getting sillier and sillier (maybe the beer had started kicking in), and one can also hear a "Thanks Dean" shout, thanking him for suggesting they sing the song. The record was, rather surprisingly, a big hit, and is still a Beach Boy "gem".
Erik - Lund, Sweden
That's Mike Love saying "Stretch it, Carl, stretch it!" He's referring to Carl's guitar solo (in which he's stretching strings).Al - Amherst, Oh
Has anyone out there seen The Who's documentary "The Kids are Alright"? If you have, I LOVE YOU, and secondly, their cover of Barabara Ann was HYSTERICAL!!!! I laugh so hard every single time I watch it...Gotta love Moonie's falsetto, man...

~Laura~ aka WhoTLES69
Laura - Spencerport, Ny
On one part of the song, you can hear someone say, "Scratch it Carl, Scratch it! Down a little lower." What in the world was Carl supposed to scratch?Annabelle - Eugene, Or
so your saying Jan Torrence from Jan and Dean sang the lead vocals on a Beach Boys song ...

Pete - Nowra, Australia
This song was used to advertise cheese. Babybel, the especially mild soft cheese sold in small chunks covered in wax. They adapted the lyrics to "Babybel, one taste will tell..."Helen - York, England
Covered by The Who in 1966(album "A Quick One").Simon - Brno, Czech Republic
Going with what Ken said; if you listen closer you can almost hear some vocal direction from someone saying..."tried ,saw"..then comes to the mistake where you hear saw and tried at the same time with laughter through the whole part to be sangChet - Saratoga Springs, Ny
If you listen very closely during the break you can hear someone say "Hey, play those ashtrays" and immediately afterward you hear two glass ashtrays being clanked together, somewhat to the beat.Ken - Boise, Id
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