This was surf-rock group The Chantay's only charting Billboard Top-40 hit. However, it is considered today one of the staples of the surf-rock genre. It was actually the B-side of a single; the A-side, "Move It," never charted.
The title "Pipeline" refers to a term in surfing jargon, in which a wave closes over your head while you ride it horizontally, so it looks like you're in a rolling pipe made of water (until it collapses, that is!). This maneuver is also sometimes called "shooting the tube."
The unique sound of this track is partly due to its composition, which is inverted from standard practice. The bass and rhythm guitars are at the fore, while the lead guitar, keyboard, and drums are in the background. Also it was recorded in stereo even though it was going to be released in mono as the typical 45-RPM single record of the day.
Covers of this song include artists as diverse as Anthrax, Bad Manners, Agent Orange, Johnny Thunders, The Ventures, and Lawrence Welk. We're still trying to find out what other songs were covered by both Lawrence Welk and Anthrax, but lists of this variety seem to be scarce.
Perhaps you've noticed that surf-rock tends to have a lot of instrumental work? That's because it started out as strictly an instrumental form, where speed and precision playing was highly valued. In a way, it fathered the speed metal genre. We have The Beach Boys to thank for bringing vocal harmonies to surf music.
Dick Dale, who earned the title "King of the Surf Guitar," recorded a new version of "Pipeline" with Stevie Ray Vaughan for the 1987 movie Back To The Beach. The movie reunited Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello 24 years after they starred in one of the first beach movies, Beach Party, which featured Dick Dale's music.