In this classic American song about girls and cars, a rebellious daughter borrows her dad's Ford Thunderbird, claiming she's going to the library to study (yeah, right). Instead, she uses it to show up other drivers. Her dad eventually finds out and takes his T-Bird back, but she retaliates by running off with someone who fell in love with her after watching her drive.
The song was written by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, with some of the lyrics by lead singer Mike Love, as he was much more attuned to teen culture than his cousin Brian. Love told us: "I suggested that we write a song about a girl who borrows her dad's car and goes cruising, rather than to the library, 'like she told her old man, now.' So I came up with the concept and the lyrics, and Brian went in and recorded the track. And I even told him, it's got to start like a Chuck Berry song with a guitar lead intro, which Carl Wilson supplied. And so that's how that came to pass."
Until some legal wrangling sorted out the songwriting credits in the '90s, this song was solely credited to Brian Wilson. As Love tells it, the reason he wasn't credited on this and some other Beach Boys songs he helped write was because Murry Wilson (father of band members Brian, Carl and Dennis), administrated the publishing rights and left him off the credits.
There have been many rumors about the identity of the girl in the song, but when we spoke with Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love, he said: "As far as I knew, there was no particular person that was the inspiration for that song. It was more generic. Because, what kid, when they get their driver's license, doesn't want to borrow the family car and they go cruisin' through the hamburger stand, or they say they need to go to the library, but who knows? [Laughing] Sometimes other thoughts become more attractive."
Here are the most common stories we've heard about who the girl is supposedly about:
A girl Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson was dating. She came from a rich family in Palos Verdes, Los Angeles and used to tell her father she was going to study at the library and needed his Ford Thunderbird to get there. Instead of driving to the library, she would hang out with Dennis at his apartment. Dennis would say, "We'll have fun till her daddy takes the T'bird away," and this became the hook.
Shirley Johnson England, whose father, Howard, owned the Utah radio station KNAK. Shirley claims that she used to borrow her dad's T-Bird, and one day got caught taking it to the drive-in instead of the library. The Beach Boys spent a lot of time at the station for promotional appearances, and when they heard this story, they wrote the song about Shirley.
The Wilsons' father Murray had very conservative values and felt this song was immoral. Murray served as their manager, and by many accounts was very controlling. He didn't get his way on this one, and was removed as manager a few months later.
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
Seems like this song deserved better than #5 on the Hot 100, but if faced stiff competition. The week it peaked, March 21, 1964, the Top 4 were:
"She Loves You" - The Beatles "I Want To Hold Your Hand" - The Beatles "Please Please Me" - The Beatles "Dawn (Go Away)" - The 4 Seasons
The Beach Boys were on tour in Australia when the song was released; when they returned to the States, Beatlemania had come to town, sucking the of air out of "Fun, Fun, Fun" and every other competing single. The Beach Boys song is now regarded as a classic, but at the time it was almost eclipsed by the Mop Tops.
The intro was copied from Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven," which The Beatles covered in 1963. Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys were heavily influenced by Chuck Berry.
In 1996 the British rock band Status Quo did a version of the song with The Beach Boys. Despite peaking at #24 on the UK charts it wasn't played on BBC Radio 1. An angry Status Quo threatened legal proceedings against the national station, claiming they were wrong to not playlist the song in spite of it making the Top 40.
As was common on many early Beach Boys recordings, the group was augmented by some top Los Angeles session musicians. Performing on this one were:
Ray Pohlman – bass Hal Blaine – drums Steve Douglas, Jay Migliori – saxophones
Jerri from Seattle This song was written for my cousin's T-Bird. She lived in Inglewood and went to Morningside High School. She dated the drummer. This story sounds just like the other one about the girl in Inglewood. My uncle was an electrician, and built a house in Palos Verdes and moved there around 1967.
Becky from Salt Lake City, UtShirley Johnson England is my neighbor and a very close friend. I have heard this story from her firsthand. She did go to the library, however she didn't take the T-Bird straight back to the radio station like she was supposed to. Her dad, Howard Johnson, the owner of KNAK (a very popular radio station with the teenagers and early 20's crowd) did like the Beach Boys very much, so they came to Salt Lake fairly often and he promoted them a lot. Mr. Johnson was also on the staff at the University of Utah, so he had a very desirable parking pass on the T-Bird. I think he was on the faculty, but I can't remember for sure. That's why Shirley had the T-Bird. After she was finished with her classes she would drive to the radio station and give the T-Bird back, then take her car. She was inside the radio station around the time she got grounded from the T-Bird and the Beach Boys overheard her talking about it with someone. They asked her for the whole story. The lyrics to that song were literally written in the backseat of a car on the way to the Salt Lake Airport. I don't know why Mr. Wilson would find anything about that song inappropriate, but I guess I know Shirley and he didn't. I may not have been born yet, but I know that Shirley wasn't "that kind of girl". She loves to play pranks and have fun, but it's all good, clean fun. If it's true that she fell in love with a guy in 1964, then that would be her husband whom she has been married to for over 50 years. She thinks it's hilarious that her grandchildren think she's famous! I tell her that they are right.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 9th 1964, "Fun, Fun, Fun" by the Beach Boys entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #69; and on March 15th it peaked at #5 (for 1 week) and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 4 of those 11 weeks it was on the Top 10)... The week it was at #5 the Beatles held the top three spots on the Top 100 (#1. "She Loves You", #2. "I Want To Hold Your Hand", and #3. "Please Please Me")... The Beach Boys next release following "Fun, Fun, Fun" became their first #1 record, "I Get Around"... R.I.P. Dennis Wilson (1944-1983), and Carl Wilson (1946-1998).
Dt from Gulf Breeze, FlI saw the BB live a few times in the 70's & early 80's and this would always be the final song in their encore set. The whole audience would all join in with "wooo, awoooo" as the BB continued singing the "Fun, Fun, Fun" chorus. Great live show, lots of fun. Fun. Fun.
Nan from Ho Ho Kus, NjLots of people want to "claim" the subject of this song as someone they're related to or know. The real story is about Marianne, who attended Hollywood High with the Beach Boys. Her dad owned a car dealership and when one of his customer's order of a T-bird came in, in the wrong color (pink), he immediately wanted a refund. Marianne begged her father to give her the car and he relented, hence the song.
Richard from Fountain Green, UtThe real story takes place in Salt Lake City where the girl's dad was the manager of a radio station. The father liked the Beach Boys and promoted them. The Beach Boys happened to be at the station the the day that the daughter was complaining that the T-Bird had been taken away cuz she didn't got to the library the night before, as she had told her dad she was going to do. She and a friend had instead, snuck off to a hamburger joint to hang out, and got caught. Brian and the band were being driven to the airport after overhearing the lamenting, and wrote the song while in route. See: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/the-beach-boys/fun-fun-fun and: http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=886044 and finally: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/635154125/Beach-Boys-are-fun-fun-fun-friends.html
George from Belleville, NjI like this song.It has energy,it's very catchy to listen to.It's about fun as the title suggests,and the music reflects that.Another Beach Boys classic.
Cary from Hawthorne, CaI see many posts here about the infamous girl the song is so written about. Her name is Hesselyn Mcknight. She grew up in modest Inglewood CA, with 2 sisters, Jackelyn and Jerrie, Dad was a plumber and owned a T-Bird. She attended HHS, grad 1962, and dated drummer Dennis Wilson whom wrote the song. These are the true facts. Thanks for your support cousin Paul of Torrance CA. Maybe someday we can help get the recognition to the right person. By the way, she is my Mother.
Maryann from Upland, CaI grew up with the Beach Boys in Hawthorne Ca and remember the nights we would cruise Hawthorne Blvd from the A&w to the Witch Stand in Inglewood. My gf' sister dated Dennis Wilson and she was just middle class. I would take my dad's Chevy out cruising til he took the keys away from me many times. We would sit on the console or the middle of the front seat so we would be almost on top of our guys with teased up hair, until the surfer look became more popular...those were the days..much simpler than now. The Beach Boys wrote most of their songs about growing up in the south bay in those days.
Stephen from Melbourne, AustraliaI used to use a program called bluewave offline mail reader back in the old BBS days of the 80s and early to mid 1990s, and it had a function called taglines or signatures which you could put at the bottom of your messages. One of the tag lines you could pick from was "Fun, Fun, Fun, til her daddy takes her bluewave away!
Jack from Ridgewood,this song was about my moms aunt she was friends with the beach boys............ and i dont care if u dont belive me
Bob from Brigham City, UtThis song was written when the band was at a radio station in Salt Lake City. The daughter of the station owner borrowed her fathers T-bird saying she was going to the library, but instead she went cruising on State Street. When the dad found out; he took the T-bird away, but then the Beach Boys took her out for a drive, and therfore she had fun once the T-bird was taken away. The amazing part was that the song was written in just a few minutes. The girl has since made many appearances on TV, usualy when the Beach Boys are playing somewhere in the State.
Paul from Torrance, CaFun, Fun, Fun. This is NOT about a Girl from Palos Verdes. She went to Hawthorne High school. She did not come from a rich family. She came from a typical blue collar family who lived in Inglewood, CA. She along with Her 2 sisters went to Hawthorne High with Dennis Wilson. This is the REAL fun fun fun girl despite all the hype you hear. I should know, its my Aunt.
Janet from Los Angeles, CaThe view from the Witch Stand was very impressive. You could see as far away as Catalina Island when you drove in from Los Angeles by way of La Brea Ave. Very romantic.
Janet, Palos Verdes Estates, California
Josh from Torontodon't listen to live...you'll go deaf listening to the fans lol...the girls, rather
Tom from North Attleboro, MaGary, Auckland, New Zealand: "far more dynamic than 'Johnny B Goode' or the Beatles for that matter" THIS IS YOUR OPINION.
Jonathan from Johnstown, PaAwesome song! To me, it sounds like the intro was copied from "Roll Over Beethoven"!
Gary from Auckland, New ZealandThis song isn't about the lyrics at all -- It's just a great recording, musically -- far more dynamic than 'Johnny B Goode' or the Beatles for that matter. The French cover version in 1964 changed the scene of the crime from the hamburger stand to smoking cigarettes -- so it wasn't about T-birds or hamburgers either. It was still the same song, just not nearly as well done. Nationally it came in behind three Beatles and a Four Seasons -- but regionally it usually knocked a few of these off: #1 in Washington DC, Boston and Buffalo, #2 in the Twin Cities, #3 in Chicago, Montreal, Vancouver and Pittsburgh and #4 in Los Angeles.
Fay from Stafford, EnglandI love the version that status quo did of this with the beach boys
Moss from Hawthorne, CaIn those days, the kids from HHS would tell their parents they were going to the Hawthorne city library, which was close to the police station and about a block from Hawthorne Boulevard, a popular cruising strip in Southern California. I can't remember if it was Tuesday or Wednesday nights but it was "study night" at the library. Of course, what most of the kids were doing was just meeting at the library so they could cruise Hawthorne Boulevard together between A&W and the Witch Stand. One of the things that would happen when parents found out their kids were cruising the Blvd and not studying at the library was to take their car keys from them for a while, hence - "...we'll have fun, fun, fun, now that daddy took the T-Bird away..."
Casie from Denver, CoIts like a tipical story. The dad always wants her daughter to stay away from boys like that and that she is too young for guys that she should concentrate on her studies but she totally forgot about going to the library and theres the popular guy at school asking her to join on this reall cool car so he drives her for a spin and has the time of her life with this guy.
Ned from Calgary, CanadaIn the ABC movie "Summer Dreams" The Beach Boys get out of a recording session and Denis hooks up with a girl driving a T-Bird. Mike Love said "she'll have fun till your daddy takes that T-bird away." Then (without Denis) the band went back into the recording studio to write the song.