Surfin'

Album: Surfin' Safari (1961)
Charted: 75
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • 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.
  • Brian Wilson got an F in his high school music class for writing what would be "Surfin'." The grade was later changed to an A in 2018 when Wilson was 75.

Comments: 4

  • Pearson Hamm from Georgia This is a great song it’s funny it came out in 1961 the year Eddie Murphy was born
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 11th 1962, "Surfin'" by the Beach Boys entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #93; five weeks later on March 18th it would peak at #75, and that was its sixth and final week on the Top 100...
    It was the first of their four charted 'surfing' records, the other three were; "Surfin' Safari" {#14 in 1962}, "Surfin' U.S.A." {#3 in 1963}, and "Surfer Girl" {#7 in 1963}...
    R.I.P. Dennis Wilson {1944-1983} and Carl Wilson {1946-1998}.
  • Jb from Hanover, NhDavid is right about "Surfin' USA"
  • David from Flushing, MiThe video is incorrect, it is "Surfin' USA"...not "Surfin'"..which is a simpler song and does not sound like Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Sixteen as Surfin' USA does.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Wolfgang Van Halen

Wolfgang Van HalenSongwriter Interviews

Wolfgang Van Halen breaks down the songs on his debut album, Mammoth WVH, and names the definitive Van Halen songs from the Sammy and Dave eras.

Album Cover Inspirations

Album Cover InspirationsSong Writing

Some album art was at least "inspired" by others. A look at some very similar covers.

16 Songs With a Heartbeat

16 Songs With a HeartbeatSong Writing

We've heard of artists putting their hearts into their music, but some take it literally.

Don Dokken

Don DokkenSongwriter Interviews

Dokken frontman Don Dokken explains what broke up the band at the height of their success in the late '80s, and talks about the botched surgery that paralyzed his right arm.

Maria Muldaur

Maria MuldaurSongwriter Interviews

The "Midnight At The Oasis" singer is an Old Time gal. She talks about her jug band beginnings and shares a Dylan story.

Judas Priest

Judas PriestSongwriter Interviews

Rob Halford, Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton talk twin guitar harmonies and explain how they create songs in Judas Priest.