Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Surfin' SafariReleased: 1961Charted:
This was The Beach Boys first single. Led by Brian Wilson, the band started out with his brothers Carl and Dennis with friends Al Jardine and David Marks. Brian was influenced by vocal groups like The Four Freshmen, who used jazz arrangements in their songs. Lyrically, they tapped into the burgeoning California surf scene, which was a big part of youth culture thanks to movies like Gidget
and music by the likes of Dick Dale and The Ventures. Brian didn't surf, but his brother did and pushed the idea. With the release of this single, it set the tone for early Beach Boys surf-themed hits like "Surfin' Safari
" and "Surfin' U.S.A.
As explained in the DVD Brian Wilson Songwriter 1962 - 1969
, Brian Wilson was very concerned about the background vocals on this song, as he wanted them to not only be in tune, but sound exciting. The arrangement was sparse: Beach Boys guitarist David Marks said that Brian used his finger to hit the snare drum, Jardine played the upright bass, and Carl Wilson played a hollow-bodied electric guitar, but it was unplugged. That was all the instrumentation.
Released on Candix Records, a minor Los Angeles company, "Surfin'" got its first ever play on December 2, 1961 on KFWB Radio. It was a hit in Los Angeles and sold about 50,000 copies, leading to a record deal for The Beach Boys with Capitol Records.